a girl named george

March 8, 2012

The tweets are piling up, fast. Apparently it’s International Woman’s Day. This is fantastic news for me. I love women. That sounds odd, I know. But I’ll let it stand like Dostoevsky’s Underground Man whose joke drops, too, with a thud. I especially love women who are pseudonymously named George. Nothing blunts desire (intellectual! spiritual!) more rapidly than a 90-MPH curve ball. I’m reading Middlemarch, you see. And although I’m only four chapters deep—I’ve just dappled the surface of this 800-page ocean—I’m already benefiting greatly from her insight. Self-knowledge isn’t an easy injunction to fulfill. “Everyone’s skin is so particular and we are so largely unimaginable to one another,” says J. Harrison in Legends of the Fall. I agree and Eliot does, too, but with this very important addition: We are largely unimaginable to one another the more richly imaginative we are. Take a peek at Dorothea. Her head is aflame with all kinds of ideas, drawn from poetry, philosophy, history, theology and so on. But despite this generous light, she steps in all the wrong places, all the shadows, preferring, for instance, Mr. Casaubon, the gray-haired Lockean lookalike, over Sir James Chettam, the blooming, red-whiskered Englishman. Dorothea even fails to see that the latter is courting her in earnest. As her sister remarks, “You always see what nobody else sees … yet you never see what is quite plain.” Because I love women named George and know that stepping in shadows is easy to do, I won’t enthuse about Middlemarch until I’m done. “For there is no knowing how anything may turn out.”