Sunday, 28 June 2015
Flowers for Algernon
It's been a good weekend, but Peter has all the best photographs of it. He will probably tell you about it if you'll let him. I thought I might take you down an avenue of thoughts through which I wandered while I was out running the other day.
I had a good 7 hills and felt fitter than I have since before 2012 and all my heart malarkey. It's a cheering thing but it casts a shadow too. I recently came across an article in the Cleveland Journal which gave the incidence of recurrence of atrial fibrillation with and without secondary precipitants. Without secondary precipitants is really what I had...which means nobody knows why I got it...the numbers aren't good. After 5 years 59% recurrence, after 10 years 69%, after 15 years 71%. I'm on year 3. And I might beat the odds. But I might not.
It put me in mind of a gloomy short story we had to read for either O grade or Higher English called Flowers for Algernon in which, well you've probably read it...they find a treatment to make a mouse more clever, so they give it to a man, he becomes a genius and then the mouse starts to lose it. The man, from the height of his abilities sees that he must necessarily lose it all again. Of course this is all of our stories as well. Or at least everyone who has realised that the wrinkly people are in fact the same species as us, just after time has passed.
I started to think about the other things that I remember from the curriculum for school English...and I discovered a certain slant to them all. See if you can see a similarity.
Wilfrid Owen, "Futility" about the horrors of war
Sylvia Plath, "Daddy" - on her dead father, bad marriage, depression and suicide attempts.
Death of a Salesman - a washed up salesman weighs his son down with expectations and then kills himself
An Inspector Calls - an apparently nice family are shown to be exploitative and hypocritical
Plus Hamlet and Macbeth.
A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes. Well it's a complex plot, half of which I'd forgotten although I knew it was bleak. Four English children are captured by pirates. One of them dies, two of them are sexually abused and one of them murders a pirate. (Early on the pirates get a monkey drunk and it falls to its death from the crow's nest.) When the three surviving children get to England, two of them act as if nothing has happened and one of them has gone mad. Happy Days.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding. You all remember this one. English boys are lost on an island. Things go wrong quickly, particularly for Piggy. Sucks to your Assmar Piggy.
Oh yeah and The Catcher in the Rye I'm going mad, the world's such a bad place, everyone is phoney. I have a feeling of disappearing...
I'm too depressed to tie this up or make sense of it. Sunday nights. What are they even for?