I have a bee in my bonnet about chair heights these days (a remnant of last summer's Marie Curie project1), just ask The Boy, who can replay my lecture/rant/francl pitch perfect. I'm short, and when I get on this topic, I probably sound short and ungratefully so. Which makes me wonder what sort of composite picture you might draw of me given only what I write?3,4 Grey hair, or a dignified auburn? Tweedy skirts or linen tunics and pants? Do I squint up at you nearsightedly, or bend down to listen? Do I stroll or you can hear the staccato beat of my pumps on the floor below?
There is more to even our physical image than meets the eye, than can be captured in a photograph, or even in a video, and it can change moment to moment. We draw our shape not only from within, but from without, from where we are, from who we are close to, from what we share with each other. Crash is noted at the parish for his ability to move silently and serenely, even in a space that is acoustically lively. At home? I can feel the vibrations in my attic study when he pounds down to the basement.
There are no known contemporary portraits of St. Ignatius of Loyola and certainly no videos, what we know of his face comes from a death mask, and a few portraits painted soon after his death. But what of the rest of the details? I have to say that when I discovered, not so long ago, that St. Ignatius was shorter then I am (4' 11" to my 5' 1" on a stretchy day), I was surprised, and even with that datum in mind, have trouble seeing him as anything under 6 feet.
In Call Me López Margaret Silf offers us not one, but many portraits of Ignatius, pulling from primary sources. We meet the wry Ignatius, leaving his armor at the door of Rachel's apartment, or tying his horse up outside. There is Ignatius in agony of body and spirit, collapsed in tears on Rachel's sofa. Ignatius, bringing dinner and a bottle of wine and watching YouTube. I felt like each time I started a chapter, Ignatius pulled himself off the pages of his journals and letters, drawing flesh from his conversation with Rachel, only to fold himself neatly back into the book when I had to stop.
I would love to see the book done as a play...
Reminder - on Tuesday I'll draw a winner for a copy of Margaret Silf's Call Me López. If you want to be included in the drawing, leave me a comment here! Double your chances of winning and enter at Metanoia as well.
1. The short2 version of the rant is that the average chair height in the US is about 16 1/2" from from the ground. This is the appropriate height for 73% of men and 10% of women.
2. I didn't intend the pun, but I didn't edit it out either.
3. Hazel Motes from Flannery O'Connors Wise Blood
4. The Gender Genie purports to determine the sex of the author by analyzing text. Use with caution, it's says I'm male.