Bleak House on a rainy day following a sleepless night

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Tuesday, 28 July 2009

(12:26:13 CDT)

Bleak House on a rainy day following a sleepless night

Spent a sliver of the morning watching a part of the 1985 mini-series of Bleak House. The one with Diana Rigg and Denholm Elliot. I am a fan of the more recent one (2005, brought over a year or so later to the States) with Gillian Anderson and Denis Lawson is the same respective roles; but I have to say that this one seems to be more powerfully shot. The contrast between the fog and dimness and dampness and the literal crap filled streets of law versus the cleanliness of the land outside of chancery is well shot, the puns and angry plays on words are kept intact a little better, the Esther excudes that penitent beauty just a little better, and one shot in particular enamored me of the series. When we are first introduced to the Dedlock house we are shown a room almost impossibly well lit by many candles and a fire, but by choice of colors and angles, the walls might as well be black and the room in darkness. For all the glamor of the room, all the brightness, it is just as dark and dreary as the London street where so much evil is brewing. In contrast, the "growlery" of John Jarndyce only has a few lamps, three or four for a fair sized room, and is filled with color and life.

Bleak House is an interesting book but has only been adapted a few times, mostly as a mini-series in the "BBC" style. Apparently there are movies for it, back in the silent era. Short adaptations may have trouble, since it is so chock full of things as to be a bit dizzying. At its core is a lawsuit that has gone on so long that it has ceased to mean anything, but now takes up a fair amount of chancery's time, and eats up the lives of many involved, none of which can let go of their claim. It is likely the most direct inspiration for Kafka's later and even more existential The Trial. Dickens, as he does, goes a little overboard in his attack on chancery and such things, where a simple will and trying to figure out exactly how to pay it out might become a wedge between families and drive at least one man to suicide (and another, in story, to a despair so deep it kills him). I think Dickens was trying a new defintion of the adage "Those who live by the law die by it". What's more, it contrasts a third person telling style with a first person narrative, and switches back and forth. As far as I know, it was the first novel to try such a thing, to offer an external but empty view focusing only on images and sounds; and an internal, personal view that is bound by a single writer's perspective. Toss in a love triangle or two, a missing set of love letters, users and abusers, a dying street sweeper, a couple of evil lawyers, and a good hearted ex-soldier...and it's a very, very full book. So awesome, mind you, and often ranked as Dickens' best by his most dedicated critics.

Enough of that. I am glad to see the rain has come, today. My sinuses felt almost on fire yesterday from some mid-summer pollen. I have Wal-itin, the Claritin knock off, and it helps but I forgot to take it yesterday (and maybe the day before as well) and it surprised me how bad it was by last night. It might have had part to do with my nearly sleepless night. I was tired, and on the brink of sleep all night long, and I must say that I was resting if not in full sleep, but every little thing would bring me back to full wakefullness. A sound in the distance would wake me up. A bit of grit in bed. Sarah turning over. The sudden idea that maybe I should check something on my computer, or read something. The blanket slipping off of my feet. My pillow not quite supporting my head as I needed. I would be right on the edge of sleep, and something would occur and I would come fully awake. That was the annoying thing. Too sleepy to really justify getting out of bed, and I spent most the time mostly conscious. After five or ten minutes, I would start to drift back off and something else would happen. I ended up getting two or three hours of sleep by the end, which helped, but it's going to be a long day.

Well, to read and drink tea for a bit, then to get ready for work. I'm going to sit outside for part of the day, try and get a little grey, hazy sunlight and the sound of rain good and in my ears. That should help. I think I might be a little worried about the restarting semester (I return to school in something like two weeks, maybe three) mixed with the busy week (work an extra day, getting a few things settled, and there's a trip down to Auburn so Sarah can help Alicia, finally, celebrate her now belated 19th birthday). All these things will settle a little, in time, but probably means this week is going to be bad for the wakefulness. Oh, and something between breaking glass and a gunshot happened last night, about the time I was first getting sleepy (say midnight). Nothing came of it, but I think that jolted me awake to start the cycle.

Si Vales, Valeo


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