I watch The Beautiful Lie with interest, mainly because the cinematographer who realized the way we see this film, is a past lover. He taught me about the close up shot. ‘The photo should be taken just a hand strap away from the object you are shooting,’ he said as we practiced taking photographs of coffee cherries of all things. Without the hand strap and using my i phone now, I always go in as close as I can.
I would tell my then husband, ‘get up closer, get up closer,’ whenever he took photographs, but I could never reveal where this advice came from.
In The Beautiful Lie, I see he has stayed true to his advice getting up so close the intimacy overwhelms. This to me is the beauty of this film.
In her critique of The Beautiful Lie (The Saturday Paper 7 November 2015, page 21) a modern remake of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Helen Razor writes, ‘It’s not easy to understand why a writer wouldn’t explore the fact of a celebrity’s waning lure’. There it is, the rationale for Dione and Me, the biography I am working on about Dione Lucas. Why didn’t I read this article last week as I put together a book proposal for Oxford University Press!
This has always been my reason for exploring her life. Why was she forgotten? Why has Julia Child taken the credit for Dione’s work? I remember these being the two main questions I asked when I first found her in a box of cookbooks. With this one line, Helen Razor has made the intent of my biography clear. Each chapter is situated at a place in New York (with the exception of a chapter on her Australian visits) where Dione lived, worked or that she was some-how connected to, and each place has a central story that seeks, not only to restore her and make sense of her past, but also to understand what it was about her that made her so remarkable during her life and forgettable after it ended.
A very young Dione Lucas
For the past few days I have been working on her spirituality and her association with G.I Gurdjieff and I am intrigued to see that so much of what he taught his followers applies to her life. At first I was scared to explore this part of her life – perhaps fearing that it was too hard for me to understand – but I am reading Ouspensky’s account of meeting Gurdjieff in St Petersburg during WWII and how at first he was dismissive then later drawn into the complex system of beliefs. I am avoiding the complicated diagrams but taking note of the things Gurdjieff says about the nature of ‘man’ [sic] and knowledge. Some are profound, for example:
It is a great mistake to think that man is always one and the same. A man is never the same for long he is always continually changing. He seldom remains the same even for half an hour. You know X cannot tell a lie for instance. Then you find he has told a lie and you are surprised he could have done so. X cannot lie; it is y who lied and when the opportunity presents itself y cannot help lying.
Evolution (of man) is the result of a conscious struggle. Evolution only happens when a man realizes his position, realizes the possibility of changing his position, realizes that he has powers that he does not use, riches that he does not see.
I wish I had looked at this earlier! I wonder if Gurdjieff has anything to say about putting off that which must be done. I have 300 more pages to read but they will have to wait as I can no longer put off sealing the deck as summer is fast approaching.