Thursday, March 21, 2013

'YOU CAN NEVER HOLD BACK THE SPRING" & Skidding on Butterflies

"winter dreams the same dream every time"
           Tom Waits, Orphans

It's true, "you can never hold back the spring."  You can listen to that "gruff lullaby" (thanks Kim) by Waits, on You Tube.  I like the version sent to me by friend Jeanne in southern CA.-- the one with the spring scenes.

To celebrate the first day of spring as well as the one year anniversary of the Abracadabra Blog, I saddled up my trusty bike and headed out to the usual haunts in the quartier. Spring's arrival came like a sly cat on stealthy paws, mostly fur and whiskers, a few claws. 

The White Orchard - Vincent Van Gogh

For me, spring is kind of a happy/sad time.  Happy to put away the black sweaters, the big boots, the layers of inner and outer wear.  Happy to see the first blooms, bulbs shooting up, jonquils waving their heads, the new growth in the garden.  Happy to see the baby lambs and foals, the skies all puffed up with Magritte clouds sans bowler hat.

Clouds over Charras
Magritte Cloud Collage - Allyson Winter's Class

Sad because? ne sais pas exactly.  I feel a bit like Ophelia in John Everett Millais' famous Pre-Raphaelite painting, surrounded by beauty, floating on a river of tears.

Ophelia - John Everett Millais -1851-52

French sociologist Emile Durkheim's research (along with others) showed that more suicides take place in spring and summer than winter or fall...seems counter intuitive, but rather than emphasizing the role of nature he interpreted the phenomenon in sociological terms writing that, "most suicides took place in the spring because  'everything begins to awaken; activity is resumed, relations spring up, interchanges increase. In other words, it is the density of human interactions, and not the environment that caused the higher incidence of suicide in spring and summer'."

I think Durkheim got it right.  I made the link between increased human interactions and interchanges and my own sad/suicidal feelings based on the upcoming Annual Co-propriete meeting here at the Chateau.  This won't mean much to those who don't live in France, New York or any other place where converted brownstones or old piles of European stones are joined together to form co-op apartments overseen by an elected Board, Syndic and varying numbers of squabbling owners.

We were warned by everyone we knew, including french friends, to not buy into such a situation, but we did.  Not regretting our decision, since 90% of the owners are good eggs, but there's always a rotten one who can make everyone else's life miserable.

As I was peddling along the lyrical french roads, I asked myself why this wicked, mean-spirited, bitter person, who subverts the working process at every turn, is in our lives???  The words "bi-polar stalker" danced before my eyes like midges in August on Mt. Algonquin, upstate New York.  And if you've ever been unlucky enough to have a stalker turn up in your reality you'll know what I mean.  I had one once before; ex-boyfriend when I was in my twenties, who knocked me around more than a few times (he was a California Junior Golden Gloves Champion).  I decided my only alternative was to move to New York to get away from him, but he continued to stalk me for the next ten years, even after I was married.  I don't think he was bi-polar, just your garden variety narcissist. If you are out there Thomas "P" (pretended his middle name was Patrick, but it was Paul) Quady, look out, I'm gonna out you on Oprah!

It's not just the stalking, but the creepy knowledge that someone is out to destroy you as part of their power mongering.  I feel like I am in Shakespeare's play Othello, dealing with Iago.  "Iago claims a reputation for honesty and plain speaking, yet invents elaborate lies in order to exploit and manipulate other people. Treats others as fools and has no time for tender emotion, yet is a married man and presumably once loved his wife. He cares for no one, yet devotes his whole life to revenge rather than walk away in disdain. He believes in cheating and lying for gain." CHECK

Alladin Jafar and Iago

"Iago is surrounded with bitter irony: he is not as he seems, his good is bad for others, people repeatedly rely on him, and he betrays them. He likes to have others unwittingly working to serve his purposes."  Cliff's Notes

William Hazlitt wrote: "Iago is an extreme instance . . . of diseased intellectual activity, with the most perfect indifference to moral good or evil, or rather with a decided preference of the latter, because it falls more readily in with his favorite propensity, gives greater zest to his thoughts and scope to his actions. He is quite or nearly indifferent to his own fate as to that of others; he runs all risks for a trifling and doubtful advantage, and is himself the dupe and victim of ruling passion — an insatiable craving after action of the most difficult and dangerous kind." CHECK

 Really much more interesting than a "bi-polar stalker"!

"Who Breaks a Butterfly Upon a Wheel" - Alexandar Pope
Dealing with these kinds of people is a ripe form of torture that brings to mind the 18th c. poet, Alexander Pope's line, "Who Breaks a Butterfly Upon a Wheel?" alluding to "breaking on the wheel", a form of torture in which victims had their long bones broken by an iron bar while tied to a Catherine wheel. In his epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot, Pope wrote:
Let Sporus tremble –"What? that thing of silk,
Sporus, that mere white curd of ass's milk?
Satire or sense, alas! can Sporus feel?
Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?"
Yet let me flap this bug with gilded wings,
This painted child of dirt that stinks and stings;
Whose buzz the witty and the fair annoys,
Yet wit ne'er tastes, and beauty ne'er enjoys,

Alexandar Pope, 1727 - Michael Dahl

Ah, but let us speak no more of villains, torture, or worst yet MEETINGS!

Today is Abracadabra's birthday and the first day of Printemps, & you can't hold back the spring!  It's been a rich, rewarding year, and I want to thank all my faithful followers & readers of this quirky blog, from all over the world.  I know some of you are "spammers"-- maybe the ones from the Ukraine.  I'm not naming any names.  YOU know who you are,

Instead let us paint a picture of METAMORPHOSIS, TRANSFORMATION and TATTOOS
Drew Barrymore's Tattoo

Harry Brown at the launch of the Natural History Museum's sensational butterfly exhibition

For those of you in the Dordogne or Charente, on Sunday March 24th, I will be reading Tarot at an Open Day at Under the Lime Tree, a retreat/gite center in Cellefrouin.  Hectares and hectares of organic gardens, fruit trees, set along a river with hammocks and jacuzzi, hot stone massages and the great sense of peace and revitalization that comes from being at a spiritual power center.  Maybe we'll do some smudging and rituals to minimize Iago's dark forces, but mostly we'll be connecting with the beauty of the tarot images and the divine forces that make the world a joyful place.  All suicidal thoughts shall be banished!  You can see the stars there.

Under the Lime Tree - Nikki Emmerton and Sean Williams

It's rare to find these kinds of places in France; it's like stepping back into northern California.

And for those of you in Paris, I will be in the 5th arr. for a friend's wedding from April 3-7, and also booking tarot readings. Several spaces left on April 4th and 6th.  To contact me to set up a reading, please email:

 Bisous mes amies, I promise to be in a better mood next time!

"What I remembered most clearly about this Jinja road was that on portions of it, for reasons no one could explain, butterflies settled in long fluffy tracts.  There might be eighty feet of road carpeted by white butterflies, so many of them that if you drove too fast your tires lost their grip, and some people lost their lives, skidding on butterflies."

from Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town - Paul Theroux

It almost looked like it was snowing butterflies

1 comment:

  1. Hey, that was great stuff. Seems that your work is moving more toward the visual with less text. Great photos.

    Love your posts,