Thursday, February 9, 2012


... today. Or, as we crossword puzzlers like to say, an olio.

Yesterday was my sister's birthday. Out of courtesy, I won't mention the number. Suffice it to say that it's respectable. Through the wonders of contemporary communications technology, I was able to speak to her at her home in the Cotswolds (England) "as though in the next room." (If you're ancient enough, you'll remember the days when transatlantic calls were made with great patience and many delays with the assistance of international operators; and then, if and when you did manage to "get through," the voice at the other end sounded as though it came from another planet.)

Anyway, Flora told me that she had received a birthday card from Jean, the woman who had been our nanny, over seventy years ago! Jean is now in her nineties, and still remembers us as babies. This, coincidentally, on the very day that baby Luka spent with us while his mom went off to work; we are fortunate to have the help of the very sweet and capable Xiomara--we likely would not last the day without her! All of which led me to wonder whether Luka will still be receiving birthday cards from Xiomara when he reaches our age... I hope so.

On another topic entirely, I found it unsettling, to say the least, to watch that news clip with the interview of Mimi Alford, the woman who is just now revealing her affair with President Kennedy many years ago. "Affair" is perhaps the wrong word for the relationship. We have all been aware for years now that Kennedy was a flagrant womanizer. But what Alford describes would unquestionably, these days, be understood as rape: a forty-five year old man in a position of supreme authority, a nineteen year old intern, no preparation, no courtship, no pretense of love, just sexual exploitation--if not forced, then at least forcefully imposed.

Sexual mores change. Thank goodness. It seems to me that Kennedy was exercising something akin to the (perhaps mythical) medieval droit du seigneur, by which the lord of the manor was entitled to first dibs on the virginity of his vassals' daughters. With lordly (presidential?) arrogance, he simply assumed it to be his unquestionable right to take his pleasure wherever his whim led him. That his staff and the national media agreed with him and happily covered for his cavalierly sexual appetites seems, in retrospect, almost quaint. But not quite. I do find it, as I say, disturbing, to see an old hero in a new light: not just as a womanizer, but a rapist.

And finally, it's a pleasure to report that my "One Hour/One Painting" session went well. I had a full complement of twenty participants--more than that creates a problem with sight lines, when you're spending a full hour with a single painting. We sat for the full designated time, and I was happy when many of the participants agreed that it had seemed like a "short hour." It has been a while since I offered this experience in a public venue, and I'm thinking now of offering more sessions. It's a good opportunity to share the experience of Mind Work. (If you don't have a copy yet, I hope you'll consider buying one...)

1 comment:

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I agree that JFK behaved unconscionably toward this young woman, just as Clinton did toward Ms. Lewinsky. When the most powerful man in the world takes such egregious advantage of a young, naive girl who feels incredibly privileged to be an intern in the White House, she really has no chance at all to decline his advances, whether or not force was used.

I didn't know about the rape aspects until I read your post, and it disgusts me. But there have been numerous instances of Kennedy nephews raping and getting away with it. Rank has its privilege indeed. We should all be ashamed of allowing this kind of feudal mentality to endure.