Claire et moi

In the sad film Claire et moi, after a sweet meeting with his father about relationship choices, the moi of the story is in a train and reads passages from a book he was just given by his dad. It is the famous passage from Rilke’s Letter to a young poet about what goes into enabling the first line of a verse. Long experience of the world, depths of observation, of scientific inquiry, and complete immersion in the world of others. My take on the story is that passion love, something that was finally considered within the grasp of multitudes with industrialization and fragmentation of traditional kinship and social networks, at least by the mid-twentieth century, comes to be regarded as an insufficient basis for proper relationships. Both characters are passionately drawn to each other and even abandon some of their selfishness by the end of the story. Will they learn to live their whimsical, inventive, physical passion in caring for a gravely ill person (she is HIV positive) and accepting other demanding tasks? A little opening is left at the end, or so it seems to me. I thought that the most important moment in the film was this reading of Rilke’s enduring wisdom in the train. Though I cannot make a grandiose appeal to science, world-traveling experience, life with others, yet his words give expression to something I feel—daily I dare think—, and that is the trust put into the grace of a world lived in all its dimensions, and especially the trust that the articulation of air, gestures, thoughts, will, is part of this adequate world, that it will occur and be communed.