Together in Spirit

An online reading group ('TIS a reading group!) to bring together friends, and friends of friends, who aren't able to be in a conventional reading group due to constraints of time or geography.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Diving and drowning

As it was difficult to hear at lunch yesterday, I’ll blog some of what I said about The diving bell, and hope others will too. I’d also be pleased to read Jill and Helen’s comments on The earth hums, so that I can compile a response for Mari.

I found The diving bell fascinating for what it tells us about ‘life’ with locked-in-syndrome and I think he may yet be responsible for fundamental changes to the lives of others similarly afflicted. There are some good passages – I particularly enjoyed the The Alphabet with his insights into how different characters respond differently to the challenge of communicating with Bauby – and the impact that had on him. There are also some good sentences: ‘I can weep discretely. People think my eye is watering’ reminded me of Stevie Smith’s poem ‘Not waving but drowning’ which I think we agreed to look at as a group, and which I’ll send in a separate blog.

But, without this unique context, I don’t think it stands up as a book, at least not one for me. Other people’s musings on life, the universe and everything, especially when they do it through dream sequences, leave me irritated and unengaged. My problem maybe, not Bauby’s. I will say, however, that given the exquisite labour of producing this text, he has pared his writing to the bone, and none the worse for that. Others are tempted to ramble on, but at least his disability spares us that.