Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense

Sunday, 22 November 2015


A Familiar Pain

We were broken but found each other.
Our cuts healed over and
our bones knitted together.
I thought we were one.

But it seems I was wrong:
you need your freedom back
and in trying to pull away
old wounds are re-opened
and memories re-kindled.

27 April 1986

AttractionThe laws of attraction. Not quite sure what they are. And no one can seem to agree what they are. There are laws of affinity and if you look up the Wikipedia entry you’ll even find formulas but the laws of attraction are a bit murkier. Does, for example, like attract like (as Plato proposed in his first law of affinity) or, as sociologist Robert F. Winch proposed in the fifties, do opposites attract? It’s pretty much a moot point. Quantum physics has seen to that. We now have something called field particle exchange which, as with most things quantum physicy, doesn’t listen to reason if it doesn’t feel like it.

I never took science at school except when it was compulsory. Once we got to pick our own subjects I dropped all that and never looked back. What is odd is how often science crops up in my new novel and not just any ol’ science but cutting edge stuff. I don’t watch many science programmes on TV but I can enjoy the odd one. I especially love the ones that tell us time doesn’t exist or reality is only real when we look at it.

In 1 Samuel 18:1 we get the phrase “the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David” and the metaphor of a body being made up of more than one individual is a common biblical one: “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Ephesians 4:16). We two are one. You don’t have to be religious to think that—it’s sweet on one level—but what if we were an alien race where marriage involved physical conjoinment? That would make divorce another thing completely, wouldn’t it? There’s a scene in my new novel where I describe a disjoined twin standing next to a full length mirror so he can feel whole again. There’s also one where Chang hands Eng a fiver and tells him to sod off to the pub.


Kass said...

I like the 'healing' mirror idea for the twin. Science crops up for me too when I write, and yet it was one of my poorest subjects in school.

Your poem reminds me of this one:

For What Binds Us
By Jane Hirshfield

There are names for what binds us:
strong forces, weak forces.
Look around, you can see them:
the skin that forms in a half-empty cup,
nails rusting into the places they join,
joints dovetailed on their own weight.
The way things stay so solidly
wherever they've been set down—
and gravity, scientists say, is weak.

And see how the flesh grows back
across a wound, with a great vehemence,
more strong
than the simple, untested surface before.
There's a name for it on horses,
when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh,

as all flesh,
is proud of its wounds, wears them
as honors given out after battle,
small triumphs pinned to the chest—

And when two people have loved each other
see how it is like a
scar between their bodies,
stronger, darker, and proud;
how the black cord makes of them a single fabric
that nothing can tear or mend.

Jim Murdoch said...

I enjoyed the poem, Kass. Thank you for sharing. Scars crop up a bit in the poems from this time: ‘Scars’ (#613), ‘The Lady Doctor’ (#620) and ‘William’s Jigsaw’ (#627). There’s then a twenty-one year gap before I mention them again. When I went to America to see Carrie’s family I bought a book for the flight home with a great title, Scars Make Your Body More Interesting by Sherril Jaffe. Don’t recall much about it other than the title. And one my favourite Leonard Cohen quotes (from The Favorite Game) concerns scars: “It is easy to display a wound, the proud scars of combat. It is hard to show a pimple”

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