Posted 20 hours ago

On Marriage

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She has been Chair of the Freud Museum London, President of English Pen, and Chair of the Royal Society of Literature. AH: Also, making fun of yourself… At the conference “Contemporary British-Jewish Cultures” at Bangor University this month (March 2018) many speakers described this idea as something inherently Jewish, too.

Just because if you read, for example, Nina Raine’s Tribes, there are the most hilarious jokes in there. And I feel this is the case with all feelings – that they need to be admitted, even if only to yourself. It’s the plot that drives much of western literature and drama; it is presented to successive generations (especially women) as both the highest goal and a yoke of oppression. From Freud to Ferrante, and One Thousand and One Nights to Fleabag , she looks at marriage in all of its forms – from act of love to leap of faith, and asks: what are we really doing when we say ‘I do’?Boundaries, as we know, are vital, and people who have none are not people you normally want to hang around with [laughs], but it depends on the extent to which you understand them as being both provisional and constructed, and as a creative act. I think there’s a tendency, when you use words like ‘resentment’, to adopt a severely moral, judgemental tone. DB: That’s very interesting… The notion that satire has somehow become the only plausible way of getting your news. They feel nobody sees the brilliance that goes into creating comedy, and how deep and wise what they’re saying is in comic form.

Photograph: Sarah Lee/The Guardian View image in fullscreen ‘Marriage is unknowable to anyone outside it’: Devorah Baum and husband Josh Appignanesi with their children in 2016.For if the word ‘Jew’ is not fitting in comfortably with other words, if there’s a kind of pause before the word, a momentary decision about how to utter it exactly, then that tells us something. And yet in saying that, they didn’t realise the awful implication of their words, which was that they took Shylock to be not an anti-Semitic representation of a Jew, but a realistic one. Particularly when it becomes tyrannical, when you really can’t afford not to be witty – then we know something must be up, right? Baum’s methodology is to look at what is missing – a philosophy of marriage, a clear idea of what this dominant structure is and how it influences lives.

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