Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

If there is anything to know about me, it is that I like for things to be circular, to start somewhere and end somewhere in a roundish sort of way. I think of many things that way and have devised a philosophy regarding the circular nature of things all my own (or maybe I learned it somewhere.) I had been thinking of posting more Winterson this holiday season as I had done last holiday season, to bring it back full circle I think, but had nothing in mind really to post, with the exception of that which I'd already posted. So this morning while riding the train when the introduction to Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit came into my mind, I thought automatically that I wanted to post it and how it related rather directly to my current state of mind.

Another of my favorite things if you knew anything about me you'd know, is to share things that I love with others and this introduction is one of my favorite introductions of all the introductions that I've read. Not that there is much to it, there isn't, just that there is a certain truthfulness that I've found to the words.

Oranges are not the only fruit was written during the winter of 1983 and the spring of 1984. I was 24. At that time I was sharing two rooms and a hip bath with the actress Vicky Licorish. She had no money, I had no money, we could not afford the luxury of seperate whites wash and so were thankful of the fashion for coloured knickers which allowed those garments most closely associated with our self esteem, not to be grey. Dinginess is death to a writer. Filth discomfort, hunger, cold trauma and drama, don't matter a bit. I have had plenty of each they have only encouraged me, but dinginess, the damp small confines of the mediocre and the gradual corrosion of beauty and light, the compromising and the settling; these things make good work impossible. When Keats was depressed he put no a clean shirt. When Radclyffe Hall was oppressed she ordered new sets of silk underwear from Jermyn Street. Byron, as we all know allowed only the softest, purest whitest next to his heroic skin, and I am a great admirer of Byron. So it seemed to me in those days of no money, no job, no prospects and a determined dinginess creeping up from the lower floors of our rooming house that there had to be a centre, a talisman, a fetish even, that secured order where there seemed to be none; dressing for dinner every night in the jungle, or the men who polished their boots to a hard shine before wading the waters of Gallipoli. To do something large and to do it well demands such observances, personal and peculiar, laughable as they often, are because they stave off that dinginess of the soul that says taht everything is small and grubby and nothing is really worth the effort.

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