Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Late Night Freudian Slips

Today I gave a two hour lecture on literature and Oxford to the loveliest group of Japanese mature-students. Their kindness overwhelmed me, especially considering all that their country has recently been through. Then, later today at work, postcards for the relief effort, with the phrase 'I Heart Japan' in Japanese characters (all except the heart, that is, which had a little map of the islands instead).

Carrying around all this information in my head for the past 48 hours, I'm now spent and seriously tired, and yet I've been staring at this picture for the last ten minutes on my bed, utterly mesmerized, in a sleepy haze. It's a photo by Clifford Coffin, showing a very young Lucian Freud in his studio. It's in the placement of his hands, his eyes, that shadow falling softly on his face: something startling and wild and yet very very serene. Dark and gentle as a moonlit night. It is easily, without a doubt, one of the most impressive portraits I've ever seen...

I may use it in a book one day, probably soon.

This is a detail from Freud's Girl with a Cat taken by me on my last visit to the Tate. The girl who was standing beside me as I took it, afterwards lifted her hand, as in the picture, and smiled at me. I didn't know her.

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