Friday, December 26, 2014

Holding Court: Clive James writes about the end of life and CLL (chronic lymphocytic leukemia)

Clive James has CLL and is not well, not well in many ways. 
I want to meet him or at least connect by mail or phone. Any ideas?
While he also has other possibly life shortening medical issues, he needs to know that he is most likely to die with his CLL and not from it.
In his interviews and writings, he poignantly speak to CLL's blanketing fatigue and its tyranny over our consciousness, even when it's been driven back, hiding in the deepest corners of our marrow, even when it is undetectable, but we alway know that it still there, ready to raise its banner again of hegemony over all that is healthy in our blood and body.
Please consider this end of year (and end of life) reflection from Clive James:
HOLDING COURT

Retreating from the world, all I can do
Is build a new world, one demanding less
Acute assessments. Too deaf to keep pace
With conversation, I don’t try to guess
At meanings, or unpack a stroke of wit,
But just send silent signals with my face
That claim I’ve not succumbed to loneliness
And might be ready to come in on cue.
People still turn towards me where I sit.
I used to notice everything, and spoke
A language full of details that I’d seen,
And people were amused; but now I see
Only a little way. What can they mean,
My phrases? They come drifting like the mist
I look through if someone appears to be
Smiling in my direction. Have they been?
This was the time when I most liked to smoke.
My watch-band feels too loose around my wrist.
My body, sensitive in every way
Save one, can still proceed from chair to chair,
But in my mind the fires are dying fast.
Breathe through a scarf. Steer clear of the cold air.
Think less of love and all that you have lost.
You have no future so forget the past.
Let this be no occasion for despair.
Cherish the prison of your waning day.
Remember liberty, and what it cost.
Be pleased that things are simple now, at least,
As certitude succeeds bewilderment.
The storm blew out and this is the dead calm.
The pain is going where the passion went.
Few things will move you now to lose your head
And you can cause, or be caused, little harm.
Tonight you leave your audience content:
You were the ghost they wanted at the feast,
Though none of them recalls a word you said.
CLIVE JAMES
(First published in the Times Literary Supplement)

I promise future posts to be more upbeat.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Heidiypi1 said...

Poignant and beautiful, thank you for sharing!

December 26, 2014 at 8:19 PM  
Blogger Beverley Paine said...

I recognise his despair and fear and sadness, it's how I think when depressed. I hope he is surrounded by people that understand and care and love him. Such a life lived so fully as his would be hard to leave.

December 27, 2014 at 1:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have CLL. Many thoughts of the uncertain future and lots prayers are with me everyday...and then I remembered this!

"Life is not a journey to the grave with the
intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -- WOW-- What a Ride!"

I hope I can uphold this thought.

January 12, 2015 at 1:46 PM  

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