Monday 6 May 2013

Think before you speak. Read before you think – Fran Lebowitz

I spent part of last week staying with some very good friends. Visiting other good friends. Eating lots. Laughing some more. It's been a while since I felt that good. That relaxed. Surrounded by goodness and love and support.

And their two very delightful children. Two energetic, polite, fun creatures. I forget what good company little people are. They remind you of the goodness of life. Which we can so easily forget as adults...

During the journey there and back, I finally finished Heinrich Boll’s The Clown. And really enjoyed it. As previously mentioned.
The account allows us to share a few hours in the life of the clown in question, Hans Schnier. A few hours sharing his thoughts, his emotions, his frustrations.
Schnier has lost the woman he loves to a man he despises and a belief system he has tolerated but never accepted. His career as a clown has lost its way. And he's losing himself to alcohol.
True tears of a clown. Forgive the obvious. But if ever that phrase was needed, it's here. There is certainly self-pity in abundance. And in his post-war rage, the tears of youthful Schnier lead to a vitriolic against society.  Against disappointment. Shame. Hypocrisy.
His view of life is simplistic to an extreme. Perhaps as a result of the confusion and hysteria of growing up during the war. But too simplistic to survive a society doomed by its own submission to the dictates of opinion and conformity. Where reality and truth are not addressed. Where issues are side-stepped. Where straight-talking is frowned upon.
It cannot be coincidental that Böll chose to question the basic ethics of his society through the rantings of a man dressed up, made up and performing. Indeed, Schnier is at his most relaxed at the end of the book, painted and ready to perform. Hiding behind the mask that he refutes in others. Concluding: “there is no better hiding place for a professional than among amateurs”.

Böll's writing is certainly forthright, stimulating and emotive. Stirring up so many thoughts, so many reactions. Conflicts. Questions.
Here The Clown shows how much damage human relations can do. Thankfully we have the little people to remind us of the goodness of life. The fun and the delights that human relations can bring us. Inspite of all the rest...

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