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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

King Lear and the Cottage: Nothing

I asked my mother recently if I could take some of the furniture from the cottage. Nothing is good or fine, but it is for me imbued with memories and feelings. This is something discussed both by Marcel Proust in his magnum opus and by Marie Kondo in her decluttering masterpiece. These two writers are definitely a pair of incongruous bedfellows. But there they are in the same sentence.

I asked my mother what she wanted from the house.
Answer: "Nothing."

"And your brother doesn't want anything either."

Here we are back in King Lear. After asking his daughters to perform and say which one loves him most, Lear is treated to extravagant declarations of absolute love by the two bad daughters. By the time Cordelia's turn comes, the connection between words and meaning has been so violated that she replies 


"Nothing will come of nothing. Speak again."



tess said...

Amazing how objects become imbued with love, memories, feelings of all sorts. Hope that you and your children will have the opportunity to sort through, hold, and carry away what is meaningful.
Last August, my aunt passed away, we figured out her favorite dress by how often it appeared in photographs over 40 + years. Moved to tears by her typed up list of cute, ungrammatical sayings my younger brothers said when they were tiny. Book of herbs that I sent her marked up in her beautiful, loopy handwriting.

Duchesse said...

What shall Cordelia speak? Love, and be silent.

Shelley said...

I remember finding out my Dad had given away Grandpa's old wooden rocker from the back porch. I was brave enough at 19 to go to those people's house and ask for it back. Of course they said no, having already started re-finishing it. I've never seen another one like it. There was an ugly 1970's style green ashtray on my Mom's coffee table. I hated it with a passion while she lived but after she was gone I couldn't bear to part with it. My ex-husband piled most of her stuff into a skip and took it to the dump one day while I was at work. He was lucky to have lived after that. I've parted with many lovely things because I simply didn't have space to keep them or money for storage (which is generally a foolish thing to do anyhow). I can't tell if this is all more about the things or about your relationship with your mother. I suspect it is the latter. I don't get the impression you are a 'huggy' kind of person, but if you were, I would send you one.

Revanche said...

I remember, not fondly, the period of time when Mom's grasp of reality was little more than tenuous and she would occasionally burst out with examples of how I had hated her over the years - because I refused to learn to cook, because I didn't learn how to sew. She confided in my friend, who I had hired to come treat her, that I hated her. She might have even claimed that I hit her, which is absolutely horrifying because I couldn't even physically raise my voice to her, much less my hand.

I suppose I was lucky it didn't come to asking my brother and I to perform our love for her.