Sunday best: Decadent reader / book report

I do feel like a decadent reader today, blanket and basket, bound for the park!

I've been reading Pessoa this week and feel like I need to juggle him with something else. I'm not able to keep my distance from the darker tone of some of his writing. I love it all a little too much.

So, I'll pick my days and go slowly. I think I'll start The Decadent Reader today. I bought this book immediately after finishing Medical Muses, but it has sat on my shelf until now.


Last weekend, I finished The Hare with Amber Eyes and only realize now that I didn't blog about it yet. Let me right that now by telling you how much I loved it. It wasn't what I expected at the outset. I thought it was going to be what it promised... a biography of handled objects.

And although it veered from its mandate, I didn't mind. It seemed only right that the objects and the lives and times were inextricably interwoven. And, so the story became not only one of the netsuke, but of a family and political history too.

In school, I loved history. I mean, history is on your doorstep in a country like Ireland. You always have the sense of it, even unfolding as you're growing up. But with this omnipresence, I sometimes find it hard to really feel history. It becomes an intellectual thing - narratives and arcs, compartmentalized chapters from medieval to 20th century. But this book made me feel history. It was profoundly moving.

It also made me think differently about something I touched on in a post last week - the idea of objects belonging in certain places, to certain people. I mentioned feeling strange to have granny's china here in Canada. And, I've always had a visceral reaction against museums filled with stuff that doesn't belong in that place - I can't just look without sensing conflict and imagining possession taken greedily, lasciviously.

Sometimes, of course, I believe it's right to question these things... the means of acquisition were not always fair or good. But de Waal's story did make me think differently about my own belongings, about the idea of objects moving into other hands and taking on new lives. Of makers finding joy in the idea of their creations finding happy homes all over the world. Of stories having continuity, causal connections, unguessed at and unfathomable. 


It all made me consider that keeping an object perfectly in one safe place and not letting it breathe and move in the world... that that's a different kind of greediness.

Products: Sharvari quilt from Toast | Becky Long Silk Dress by Rachel Antonoff from Steven Alan | Linen & Cotton Cardigan from Brora | The Chocolate Basket from Fortnum & Mason | The Decadent Reader | See by Chloe Broad Band Flat Sandals from Shopbop
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