I blog gluten-free

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

So much can happen in the blink of an eye...

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, in fact, was written in the blink of an eye---not the fast way that so often describes, but in a slow process, 2 hours a day. The author, Jean-Domininque Bauby, had been laid low by a brain-stem stroke that left him in a coma for 20 days and his wide-awake mind, brimming with life, in a body that couldn't move. The French alphabet "ESA..." was read off to him until he blinked to let the reader know which letter he was looking for, making words, sentences. In his mind, the letters danced for him at night.

He describes talking with the Empress Eugenie, days at the beach, snapshots of life, his speech therapies, he is bitingly sarcastic at times.

The book is thin, its yellow and orange cover has to pop out from among larger, more sedate black and hunter green tomes... only 129 pages, translated from the original French. He died 2 days after the French publication in 1996.

Bauby is an enigma people either love--- for himself, for his wit, for that French charm and humor, or detest, mainly because he was a flawed human. I like him for being human.

While he can't eat anymore, except by tube, he does enjoy being wheeled to the beach to smell french fries. And that is something beautiful to me. He describes everything in stark snapshots, livened up here and there with his butterflies. He gets sad, he gets dark... and yet, he dreams, he smells food, and he prays.

Somewhere along the way, he learns how gossip floats about him. While he gets sad, angry, he doesn't get defeated. Even being called a vegetable doesn't irritate him for too long: "I'll show you I'm smarter than a turnip!"

It's stark, a petite little volume of huge impacts.
Love him or hate him, Bauby will make you think.

No comments:

Post a Comment