I am mourning. Had long been looking forward to an art-outing with a friend, to visit Louise Bourgeois: The Return of the Repressed at the Freud Museum. She is one of my favourite artists and the idea of her work presented in the rooms where Sigmund Freud lived with his family and analysed patients is tantalizingly interesting to me. In this environment her work will be charged anew.
In her last decade (she died at 98) she seemed a little husk of a woman, but was still fiercely at work. Memory was her draw-well. Night after sleepless night that cyclop eye roved back in time. Greedy for their stir, their prick, the quickening of her, she probed old wounds, laid fault-lines bare, right ‘till the end.
Well, I can’t go. Body says no. Another ‘if only’ on the scrapheap. Am a tiny bit better, and with some help should manage this week’s medical appointment, but that’s it. Thought this morning (you see, I’m finding it hard to let this go) – if I went, maybe I could rest on Freud’s couch for a few days and then slowly have a look around. Quite like the idea: during the day I’d be part of the exhibit (I won’t move much, promise!), and at night, when all is still, I’d hear the ghosts of Freud and Bourgeois arguing in German and French-tinted whispers about the place of woman in psychoanalytic theory.
M.E. can seem like a thief. Its booty is your energy, half a sackful of cognitive functions and whatever else it can find. Out goes your profession, your social life, the way you were in the world.
The strange thing with M.E. is, that outwardly you’re hardly changed at all. I’m a bit paler, a bit thinner, and not so much in the vertical, but without obvious marks on my body: no operation scars, no open wounds, no bits missing or growing where they shouldn’t… But to myself I am changed, physically, mentally. Looking at this drawing earlier, made in a different context some years ago, I thought: this is a bit what it feels like, as if one moment I’m looking down at my feet and all is well, and when I look next there’s an extra one and I have no idea how or why. And then that becomes normal too and has its own beauty and you make art from it.
Untitled pencil drawing (2001)