Baisers volés (1968) - François Truffaut
You could take some trouble to rent some oxygen and dive into an aquarium and surprise your significant other - she observes the marine life and suddenly, there-you-are, masked lover holding a ring with a halo of fishes above you. If you’re the first one to attempt this, you do it free and get some media coverage.
But no no no, I’ve not seen a better scene of proposal than the one above; communion without words.
Thank you, thank you Truffaut, for an antidote - to so much sadness or indifference that can accumulate in a moment. Feeling strangely gloomy and under the weather recently. Nauseous also, for some reason. A strange oscillation of my weight to and fro, and just the very imagining of the bobbing sea during Shackleton induces the whole gag reflex. So I shut my mind from the waves and curled up with some crackers and revisited some films to take the heat off.
I love laughing, and it was only yesterday that I realized that I’ve begun to laugh not only in the same way, but with the same humour as my father. After a while wit becomes tiresome and all curled up, I am ridiculously endeared to the simple funnies. When we watched Truffaut’s Small Change and The 400 Blows, he laughed affectionately at scenes of children behaving with the graveness of adults in their juvenile transactions; the laughter itself cheered me so much I’ve grown to love and laugh gently at this, too. Alone this time, I chuckled also to the casual drama of absurd mix-ups and impulsive though irrepressibly earnest declarations in Stolen Kisses and Bed and Board. Stories fill you up with such delight it’s unbearable sometimes to return to real life - but then again I’ve become more attentive to the funnies in reality too, the humour of which slips us sometimes when we’re busy be-ing. And we depart the films, (or more cruelly the films depart us), also with the reminder that one scene slips into the next into the next, and nothing lasts and therefore Is when it simply is, and that is beauty.
On another totally disparate note, I’ve made a personal conviction not ever to give up on my command of chinese. Nineteen years of foundational work is not going to give way to neglect and in a way, irresponsibility and disrespect. I find it a thorough struggle breaking into the whole psyche of another language and realized that I’ve taken for granted this foundation of affinity to the nuances and symbols of this language. On our last trip to Taiwan my parents got me a customized stamp with my name in chinese in the traditional ‘box’ format of signatures. I dug it up and began stamping all my books with it. I no longer think it is wickedly incongruous, to have these symbols next to Salinger or de Botton, not at all. What a long time this realization had to take to arrive.
All in all this week has been pleasant, though I had a terrible nightmare of a friend passing away. The nausea spilled into my dream and I recall telling my dad, in the dream, that this death is making me feel very sick, and that I always thought deep down I would be quite indifferent to these things in the end and never expected it to hit so badly when it actually concerned somebody I knew. My heart was racing terribly in that nightmare and I woke up feeling exactly the same. Why such exhausting sleep? If I could take anything from / moralize this horror of a night I would say - that call or text or meeting makes the difference. The difference is made now, before the scene moves into the next.
Technically still employed until Friday…then the macbooks and library books will be returned…and soon hello to another phase of life.