First anniversary farrago

Plus points if you know the word origin of the word, “farrago,” already. It’s feminine, farrago, farraginis. I had to look it up. It’s a word that enjoys much more employment in English than it ever did in Latin, I reckon.

***

As I sit down to write this, Lent is just around the corner. I’m indulging ahead of time in my ritual Lenten looping of J.S. Bach’s Matthew Passion, a habit I picked up from my last SO. (He does it while engaging in a Lenten fast from drinking a glass of wine in the evenings. I do it while engaging in even more intense introspection than usual, so the blogiversary is coming in handy here.) I alternate between John Eliot Gardiner (energetic, but maybe too fast — Gardiner’s dancelike mood is better for the Christmas Oratorios, I think) and Philippe Herreweghe (heavy, contemplative, dramatic) and the recording in the Bach edition from zweitausendeins (very reserved, it’s Cambridge ensembles performing under the direction of Stephen Cleobury — an older, respected recording with excellent soloists) as it’s fairly expensive to buy a whole Matthew passion. What I typically find is that I’d like to mix them up, and probably iTunes would let me do that, although it would be a bit disorienting stylistically.

Anyway, for Servetus’s taste pronouncement of the day: I maintain that you have not lived until you have heard Thomas Quasthoff sing “Mache dich, mein Herze, rein” (“Make thyself pure, my heart”).

If you don’t like Bach, look around on youtube; he sings a lot of other stuff as well with that amazing voice, including some songs in English, and he’s probably at his best with Schubert or Brahms. Talk about extreme courage from a very short person: Quasthoff was exposed to thalidomide in the womb, and denied admission to music studies at the University of Hannover because (with such short arms and so few fingers) he couldn’t learn to play the piano. Now he’s one of the most talented singers of our day, and currently “at the pinnacle of his powers.”

A life like that puts my whining into perspective, as does this week’s earthquake in New Zealand, which remains much on my mind. Theodicy was my largest intellectual problem with Christianity. Some days it feels like emotional pain is all that chains me to earth; it’s hard not to descend into it at those times. And when it’s gone, all I want to do is not to think of it. Until I’m reminded — and then I can’t stop. Because really, I suppose, in the left-brain mode I’ve disciplined myself to inhabit for the last two decades, all I want to do in life is think, and understand. As a teenager, I was a right-brainer. The thoughts I used to have scared the hell out of me. I was happy to exercise the left brain. Relieved.

***

What happens when you realize that what you love’s betrayed you? Lucas North (Richard Armitage) looks at Sarah Caulfield, sleeping, as he realizes she must have killed Samuel Walker, in Spooks 8.5, just as the episode fades to white. Source: Richard Armitage Central Gallery. In series 9, Lucas / John learns that the other things he loved have betrayed him, too. What’s left for the person who no longer has any hold on anything?

***

Writing falls somewhere in between left and right, thus in between pain and pleasure. Sometimes it offers pure humiliation; other times it gives me an incomparable rush. I can’t always predict which it’s going to be. But even the humiliation from writing badly is better than the oblivion from not being able to think. The Servetus I became as an adult never thought her left brain would fail her. Its utter reliability was the reason to take refuge in it in the first place.

***

The first picture of Richard Armitage in any role that I ever posted on this blog: as Guy of Gisborne in Robin Hood 1.7 (“Brothers in Arms”) as he’s about to tear a necklace from the neck of a peasant girl. Armitage’s Gisborne: sexy, tortured, evil, trying too hard, obsessive, pragmatic, damaged, unresigned, impulsive, redeemed — ultimately, a frightening but apt mirror of ourselves. It’s his left eyebrow that makes the picture: calculation or irony? As Guy of Gisborne, Armitage dances on a tightrope so taut that we’re never sure what’s pantomime and what’s life lesson. Source: Richard Armitage Central Gallery.

***

So this is the first thing I wrote, the first admission I made, on the blog.

***

The last six years have been like flying on an airplane in intermittent but severe air turbulence; just when I think the plane has reached a calm flying altitude, suddenly it falls again and my stomach with it. I swallow my gorge and seek to readjust to the new normal and pray that soon I’ll be flying level again. I’ve always reassured myself that nothing that ever happened to me would make me feel as badly as I did in 1985. In my worst nightmares, I couldn’t have imagined feeling that way again. But last January 2010 was without question the nadir of my life up till now.

***

To Richard Armitage: watching your work saved my life.

***

Mr. Thornton (Richard Armitage) realizes that Margaret is not going to look back as her carriage departs the millyard in North & South, episode 4. Source: Richard Armitage Central Gallery

From January 7, 2010 to January 28, I was watching North & South in every free second I had, first in my parents’ living room, then in hotel rooms, then, finally, at home. Pattern: Get up in the morning, feel anxious, watch until I’m calm or else about to be late to class. Get dressed, breathing deeply. Drive to work, park, buy a coffee, walk to office. Work, teach, prepare, counsel students, write, grade, administer, with occasional breaks for food. Talk to mom on the phone. When all the crises are under control, walk to car, drive home, pick up food on the way, enter apartment. Slam door, drop bags, gasp until I sob. Stay in the dark till that stops, because if I can’t see my body I am not real and I don’t have to deal with anything an unreal body might be doing, feeling. Turn on lights, climb into bed with food, put DVD in laptop, snuggle up, watch until I feel I can sleep, usually with lights on. Sleep. Repeat. I went to therapy one morning a week. Dear Friend knew something was wrong but didn’t pester, just kept dropping into the visitor’s chair in my office and inviting me over for dinner with her partner. Twenty-one days.

***

Mr. Thornton (Richard Armitage) in Margaret’s imagination at the end of North & South, episode 1. Source: Richard Armitage Central Gallery

Is Marlborough Mills hell, or the conflicted site of Mr. Thornton’s redemption?

***

Then came a period, between the end of January and the beginning of this blog, in which I was still watching North & South almost all the time, but only very gingerly putting my toes into the water on other things. I didn’t want to invest money (which is strange, given the $140/hour out-of-pocket payment to the therapist) because at the beginning I thought of it as sick behavior. Evidence that I’d finally cracked under the strain. A further symptom of the disease, never the cure. And then I started to think, maybe this isn’t so bad, maybe it’s “just” escapism, but it’s still better than motionless suffering. Even so, the other stuff listed on imdb made me think that I wasn’t going to find his other projects artistically or intellectually interesting, and that I’d have to grit my teeth to watch them. I never especially loved television and films. But then I started reading articles about Mr. Armitage, and plumbed the riches of Richard Armitage Online, still my go-to for career information, and began to think that I might like him if I knew him, and started to think that I should trust his career choices. So I decided to brave Robin Hood, which necessitated a subscription to Netflix, which allowed me to see Vicar of Dibley as well. then I started looking harder, and discovered an illicit, chunked-up playlist of Spooks 7 on youtube (since gone).

***

What do you do, when suddenly you can believe that you will live, that you will be free of the thing that’s imprisoning you? Freshly unhooded, Lucas North (Richard Armitage) gets a first glance at who’s awaiting him on the other side of the bridge in Spooks 7.1. Source: Richard Armitage Central Gallery.

The expression on his face if you edit the photo so you can see the side of his face in shadow is really an interesting one (my edit). We may hope for freedom, indeed expect it to come to us if we make certain decisions, and yet it’s a unnerving challenge. You don’t smile right away. And even then, perhaps only ironically. Perhaps you’ve stopped believing in joy, or realized what you experienced as joy was itself a fantasy.

***

I watched all this stuff with painful torpor — because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I’d watch something and see some relevance to my experiences that made me wonder whether I was sane. Lucas was in Russian prison for eight years, while I’d been in מצרים for nine. Why was this actor I’d never heard of only weeks ago taking roles that provoked me so (bZirk knew) and then upping the ante with these compelling performances? And then I’d have to stop the disc or the computer and ponder. Sometimes for hours. Was this Providence? Speaking through a television actor? And then I realized: I couldn’t stop thinking. Couldn’t stop THINKING. When I finally noticed that the synapses were firing again — and I was so unaccustomed to it that it took me a good five weeks to notice — no way on G-d’s green earth was I going to spurn the cause as frivolous (despite my ongoing anxieties about it): the feeling was too precious, too long unfelt, too energizing. The point was not the answer: it was the pondering.

***

The eyes of my eyes were opened.

***

Claude Monet (Richard Armitage) tells his fellows that they are never going back to M. Gleyre’s studio in episode 1 of The Impressionists. (A historical fiction, but a useful one, I conclude.) Source: Richard Armitage Central Gallery

***

[My anniversary present, so to speak. I think it’s cool to get something via Royal Mail. Whenever I read that, I expect a Beefeater to deliver the package, though strangely, that never happens. Probably not even in the UK. Apparently Postman Pat now experiences regular difficulties making deliveries.]

Greetings from Amazon.co.uk,

We are writing to let you know that the following item has been sent
to … using  Royal Mail.

Your order #202-1115081-1144347 (received November 03, 2010)
————————————————————————-

1          Spooks Series 9 [DVD]   £21.66               1   £21.66

Dispatched via Royal Mail (estimated arrival date: March 21, 2011).

————————————————————————-
Item Subtotal:     £21.66
Delivery and handling:      £3.08
Pre-order Guarantee:      £0.00

Total:     £24.74

***

Angus (Richard Armitage) looks closely at a map, measures, and makes a plan in the RSC Macbeth. Analysis. Source: Richard Armitage Central Gallery.

The second life-line was regaining my analytical energy. The operative unit in my thinking — the thing that shapes my reactions and my judgments — is often the pregnant detail. So the role Armitage played in all this was unique and never arbitrary — Armitagemania was not originally about Mr. Armitage’s beauty, though of course I realize more clearly now that it could not be denied, and indeed, was impossible to factor out of the effect he has on me (the “morass”). How I experienced it then and understood it at the end of February, 2010, when I decided to start writing: The glance of the woman who thinks most easily with regard to details — whose main component for dealing with the world has been lamed — falls across the work of the “detailed actor,” and revives. As Dear Friend put it in a conversation to me this fall: “Your gaze is back. It was never dead.”

***

I felt dead and blind. But I was never blind, never dead. My mind was never dead, no matter what people said. My soul, starved into silence by the events of the last few years — a process that I aided — was never dead. I only needed to be reminded to really see what was passing in front of my eyes.

***

Layla Thompson (Jodhi May) asks John Porter (Richard Armitage) about the events of the Bratton extraction, in Strike Back 1.4. Source: Richard Armitage Central Gallery.

Just seeing isn’t sufficient, though. Sometimes events are so complicated that you no longer find yourself in a position to believe your own story, the things that you know are true, but which are contradicted by the chorus of voices and institutions that tell you you’re wrong, that you earned what you got through your own failure to follow orders. What you need then is someone to believe what you say, someone who’ll chase the bullet.

***

So the third life-line was writing. Finally having something that felt worth saying, that wouldn’t be silenced. Realizing that I could chase the bullet myself. That it was worth chasing. In excruciating detail. Finding people who were willing — each of you commentators in your unique way: thoughtful, humorous, sexy, critical — to help me look for it in the mounds of prose my suddenly overactive brain generated and poured into Armitageworld.

***

That’s what the last year seems like, in retrospect.

***

A humiliated John Standring (Richard Armitage) struggles with what he thinks rationally about his planned marital arrangement with Carol (Sarah Smart) and what he feels for her, which don’t easily jive, in episode 3 of Sparkhouse. Source: Richard Armitage Central Gallery

I think I’m not done, though. After months and months of wondering, I’ve started to conclude, to feel, that what I’m supposed to get from this is the resolution of the dialectic, the synthesis. I think what Armitage’s art and his concentration and his detail and his performances are supposed to teach me may be the resolution of the conflict I’ve been hiding from since I was sixteen: the place where left and right meet, where the thinker — who sees how the sun falls on a particular object — meets the artist who communicates it. I was always avoiding the morass, where everything stuck to everything else and you couldn’t tell what was what. Being an artist was way too frightening; it had to be hedged off by the thinking, rational Servetus. But maybe not.

Richard Armitage — thinker and feeler? — at the preparation for the Old Vic Gala, November 2010. Source: Richard Armitage Net

It may be that the solution is not standing outside the morass, but falling in. I never thought this was possible. I always thought you had to choose between thinking and feeling. Mr. Armitage has made me think otherwise — by starting to make me feel otherwise. Bach is synthetic like that: a cerebral music that’s nonetheless sublime, as Quasthoff demonstrates. I don’t know, yet, how to write about this, just as the first admission on the blog revealed my mystification with what had brought me to Armitage and my concession that my cognition was failing me with regard to him.

But I’m grateful that I can even think about the resolution, even if only a very little — and feel it, more deeply every day.

~ by Servetus on February 27, 2011.

89 Responses to “First anniversary farrago”

  1. It is a reason for celebration to carry through the Lenten season, that you found Richard Armitage. And have shared the experience with us. Please keep writing. And I hope to hear from you more of the Jewish custom at this season. Agnostic I am, but not atheist…

    The destruction of Christchurch is in my mind, too. As is the Middle East. A friend has in-laws who are Egyptian and in Cairo. They are also Coptic, and being of a minority group is never comfortable in a time of national upheaval. We’re off to see The Black Swan today, so I’ll catch up their situation.

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    • That Algeria suspended its state of emergency. My western civ lectures for the end of term are self-destructing as we speak …

      Lent isn’t a Jewish thing; this is solely a remnant from my Christian days (in which Advent and Lent were my favorite seasons of the year). Jews observe a semi-penitential period (though penance isn’t really a Jewish thing, either) between Passover and Shavuot (Xian Pentecost) in which you can’t marry, for example.

      On the Black Swan see Dear Friend’s blog — we saw it together and I endorse her perceptions of it.

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  2. There was so much in this post to absorb and it is difficult to express the feelings it arouses adaquately. It is very painful to read of how much you have suffered in these past few years. We all have our individual crosses to bear, but yours has been very severe. Dear friend, I’m so glad that you have found the strength to carry on and to be able to give of yourself to others, as family member, friend, teacher and blogger in this difficult time. And I find it marvellous that an actor and his work can help us.

    I have recurring periods of severe homesickness where, even though I lead a rich existence in Norway, I long to be back in England, using my own language on a daily basis, although, consciously, I know that “we can’t go back”, as Margaret Hale puts it. I attribute part of my Armitagmania to this longing as I studied in London, have lived in Leicester for a couple of years and have South-east London as a base whenever I return. But then there is a certain magic about the actor and his performances that these facts cannot explain adn that keeps me hooked.

    Thank you for sharing.

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    • Thanks, MillyMe. I’ve gotten help from friends and family at crucial times — and even from students — and, unexpectedly, from writing this blog. Also, some of the problems involved my parents (illness, e.g.). So I couldn’t ever just stop.

      I don’t think any explanation covers everything, and there are pieces that I gloss over here. What I realized is that I was shying away from listing all the stuff in the background — as if I needed a justification — but it would be too identifying to say that stuff. It was a big liberation just to be able to say this. I also do think everyone’s explanation is different. But there is something about Armitage’s ability to move us that speaks across our separate circumstances, I often think.

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  3. I feel that this U2 video sums up what I wanted to express… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VzdqbpkvUzY

    Thanks for going there, digging deep and sharing your truth.

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  4. Thank you Servetus for sharing your heart and soul with us. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for you, and am glad that you have found some answers and are on the way to a positive change in your life. So very much to think about in your post.

    On to the man in question, Richard Armitage, and how he has helped you in this past year. It’s interesting that he has that effect isn’t it? I think he affects all of us in different ways, but I always think it’s interesting that so many of us, myself included, have turned to him at a difficult time in our lives and find comfort in watching his work. I think the fact that he’s physically beautiful is a bonus from the gods really, but I’m also drawn to him as a person from what little we know.

    It’s also always an amazing experience for me to read all the comments on this blog and find all the wonderful and articulate and thoughtful and humorous fellow fans here.

    Thanks for giving us the opportunity to share our own thoughts and feelings for RA and so much more on your blog, and for always making us think and feel and learn. Happy Anniversary!

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    • Thanks for the comment, Musa. I think I was so deep in despair that I wouldn’t have been brought to see again by someone more ordinary, or even more ordinarily beautiful. The physicality of Armitage was necessary as a sort of flare to grab my attention. That it is a beautiful physicality never hurts, of course 🙂

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  5. I’m having trouble composing my thoughts to your post. I really don’t know you except through your blog yet I’m so relieved and glad for you. I was drawn to your blog because you were an obviously very intelligent who was desperately trying to analyze an aspect of crushes that can’t be analyzed, that irrational compotent which is less about reason and all about gut feeling. We can’t definitely know why we crush on one actor as opposite to another very similar one. Our choices might be affected by our personalities, experiences, environment, even brain chemistry, but in the end, we simply feel a certain way.

    When you sought out my 50th birthday post and asked how I managed to arrive at my current state, I suspected you and I probably have much in common as far as how we’ve dealt with tumultuous times and pain. We were taught pride in our book smarts while pushing down our inconvenient feelings. It’s during these bad times that we need something that will touch deep within ourselves to get to the light at the end of the tunnel. Therapists and friends are wonderful, but if their words don’t viscerally affect us, we need something more to move us forward, another life line.

    You say RA’s personality and skills as a detailed actor viscerally touched that part in you. So, he’s become your lifeline out of the dark and there’s nothing wrong with that. I think the intensity of your feelings is directly proportionate to the intensity of the turmoil in your life. As you become more comfortable embracing your feelings and shake off the emotional shackles other’s have placed on you, you will become more comfortable being a fan. As your life evens out, so will your crush.

    Writing this post and changing the tone from expository to creatve must have been very uncomfortable for you, given your personality as you’ve told us. Because it’s unnerving to bare one’s feelings without feeling naked and vulnerable, I totally commend you for it. Bravo!!! Do keep going with this, it’s absolutely wonderful.

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    • Thanks for the comment, and for writing that post about turning 50. It actually moved me out of the reverie I was in about a lot of this stuff lately. I feel like my writing is getting more honest because of what you wrote.

      I think the hardest part of writing it was my fear that I’d finally be perceived as completely crazy — or ridiculously stereotypical (just another hysterical middle-aged woman in trouble who drools after an actor to replace the missing love in her life. Uch). I’ve got a lot invested in my facade — more than even I realized when I started writing the blog — and it’s been hard to break that down.

      In a way I think that it wasn’t random that it ended up being an actor that spawned all this: there’s the theme of identity, of course, and performance, that runs through a lot of what I think about, but also the question of “how do you take what you know and what you feel and make them into art?” In a way a crush is like that — there’s that bit about “how we feel, the gut,” and then there are all the other things around it. I’ve been wrestling on and off about which is more important, and finally I realized that they are both important, that they balance each other out. My entire training (as you pointed out) had the effect of hiding this fundamental issue from me.

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  6. Wonderful to see how the finding of Mr Armitage’s work helped you through what sounds like a very low and dark period of your life.

    I can certainly say that following his work and sharing it with so many lovely fellow Armitageaholics is blissfully therapeutic;

    and gives a whole lot more pleasure than the anti depressants that I do admittedly need to take for now.

    Lent doesn’t feature in my faith and having looked up Theodicy I realise it doesn’t include that either.

    Paganism recognises that good and evil are two of the balancing opposites that are part of all life.

    If there were no evil how would we know what was good and be able to choose one over the other ?

    I’d love to hear about how you do Lent Servetus * hugs. *

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    • I’ve got nothing against antidepressants at all. They help a lot of people, people I know and love. For various reasons — most of them to do with how they affect cognition — they’re not a good solution for me. In a way, watching and blogging Armitage, the association with others, also fit into a sort of religious pattern for me. I’ve been hesitant to say that in so many words because I don’t want to be accused of worshipping a man or putting an actor in the place of G-d.

      To clarify on theodicy: the problem is not the existence of evil in the world, but that under certain circumstances G-d can be seen to cause it or be responsible for it by not preventing its outcomes. A frequent example is genocide — why would a loving G-d allow that to happen? Christians would agree that awareness of evil allows to know more about the good, as would Jews, even if they do not see evil as something “natural” in the sense that it was willed from eternity by G-d.

      I’m a sucker for liturgy, the more complicated, the better. Lent is one of the seasons when I still occasionally go to church.

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  7. Thanks for the helpful comments. First I was worried this was too personal; then I thought I should post it but close comments. But after all — this is the kind of the post that lies at the core of the purpose of this blog, and I have nothing to fear from you. Thanks for reminding me of that.

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  8. We can all become a bit personal at this site. Perhaps less reticent than in RL. There have been a few times when I’ve thought “blast that send key” after sending. However, it’s also provided a venue for us to express thoughts. Thanks to the collegial atmosphere, to exchange ideas and experiences. And lots of learning!

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  9. Thank you, Servetus, for this open revelation and sum up of your 1 year of blogging.
    I came to fandom in a difficult time for me as well and this time is not over yet, still it is by far not so disturbing or severe, as your experiences seem to have been.
    RA is a lifeline for me, helping me to get through this difficult time and seeing beauty in otherwise not so beautiful circumstances.
    So I feel with you and am very glad you started this wonderful, clever and always thought-provoking blog with your friendly and attentive comments for everyone!

    Thank you for letting us share your difficult experiences and in the process find support, friends, likeminded and wonderfully creative co-addicts.
    I am always looking forward to your articles and the day is settled, when there is a new post by you. You are not just a great inspiration, but get to topics which really concern me, for which I feel deeply and am emotionally connected to. You just did it again with today’s article mentioning Thomas Quasthoff, a singer which I greatly admire for his courage and his deeply felt way of singing. Interweaving his experiences against adverse circumstances in your post gives so much courage and lets me see my own problems in relation to the really important things in life.

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    • Thanks for the kind words. Quasthoff is a tremendously inspiring person to me (apart from his huge talent), an example of the sort of obstacles one has to be willing to climb. It’s a hard rhetorical position — first to admit that one has problems without letting them completely take over, but then also to see them in perspective. One can’t compare sorrow and I do believe it has to be acknowledged, but then put into context.

      I hope your load lightens soon, CDoart — I have found that blogging helps a great deal.

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  10. This post gave me much food for thought.
    And so I think that our lives are changed under the influence, often seem to be small (unimportant) things. This could be a conversation with someone close to you, read poem, hear a song on the radio, or viewed the movie. So it was with me after watching N & S and I wonder how it was under the influence of Mrs. Gaskell, and how much under the influence of Mr. Armitage. What seems to me that I know is, how RA works changing me as a person. I wonder the same why. Perhaps this is because, as MillyMe once wrote about RA: “His inner beauty illuminates his outer beauty and shines through all his roles”
    And I would not be seen as a crazy fan, because I am not. However, RA was for me a turning point in my perception male and for that I am grateful to him.

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    • Thanks for the comment. I think you get to the heart of the issue — it’s one thing to write people off as crazy fans, or even to look at oneself in that light, but it’s self-damaging. Taking oneself seriously as a fan involves saying “whatever the reasons for this, whether I can explain them or not, I am going to accept that this fascination says something about me on a deep level that I need to be aware of — accept, ask about, think about.

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  11. I have not read this yet, but I will tonight when I can savor it. 😀

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  12. First, I would like to apologize for my wording since english is not my native language, …
    Since January 2011, I have been following your blog, and most of your entries are just striking. Because they talk to me in such a personal level, and resonate so clearly to how I feel about Mr Armitage.
    After much turmoil, apuzzeled astonishment, deep thinking and after going back and forth between his characters and his person, after searching through the feelings he (or his characters) was able to ignate in me, I believe that my recent and total dependence on Mr Armitage is coming from the fact that he forces me to get connected to my deepest-self, with whom I had not been connected for years. Making me feel like when I was 15 years old, connecting with my true physical appearance, remembering my true love for classical music and Mozart’s Requiem, ….
    All of this coming just from the glance of his eye on some picture, the stenght emaning from his shoulders when playing Thornton, the move of his fingers during interview, the inflection of his voice when reading Ted’s song.

    It has been only 2 months since I discovered him and his work. And so many questions are still raising, not answered, but so worth asked, …
    Your blog and articulated comments help me go through this weird and yet tentalizing path.
    Thank you!

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    • Thanks for the kind words, Zibeline, and welcome to the blog. I think a lot of people have this experience — a sort of shock in watching him that reminds us we have deeper pieces of ourselves that we block off. I’d basically stopped listening to most classical music since I was 22; too painful. Now I’m reimmersed in it, and so grateful.

      I hope you continue to enjoy the journey.

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  13. The other night I started to read “The Convenient Marriage” which I bought after having loved the audiobook. Not long into the book I came across the word “farrago” so it was great to also find it here! Had to look up the meaning of course but I love to read books where I find new words. I have found that when reading any of P.D. James’ books, for example, I usually require at least a few perusals of either Webster’s or Oxford dictionaries!!

    A special thank you, Servetus, for the YT clip from the St. Matthew Passion and for the fact that it is sung by the incomparable Thomas Quasthoff. I have seen him sing more than once – sadly not live but on a local Public TV Station here and on YT. When I was in my early teens a very musical cousin took me to a performance of the St. Matthew Passion and one of my teachers was part of the choir. When I told her next day she was quite astonished not only that I had been there but because I had sat through the WHOLE performance and loved every minute!

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    • Yeah, a whole Matthew Passion can be a real marathon — I can imagine your teacher was astounded! Thanks for the kind words.

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  14. Bravo

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  15. Servetus-
    First time commenter and heterosexual married man here (is this a first?). I come to your blog occassionally to enjoy the self-analysis so interestingly framed by your fascination with Armitage. I don’t know if it’s a comfort to all you astute ladies who may feel a bit abashed about your fixation on RA, but watching Armitage in n&s also had a strange and quite profound effect on me which is not explainable by recourse to his physical attractiveness. I’m an Anglophile, and love BBC costume drama as much as your average hyper literate tea bibbing middle aged English woman (ha), but something about the Thornton character and the unfolding of the romance in n&s triggered a change in my awareness, particularly as it relates to my marriage. I was away on business when I watched it, and when I came home, something like a second honeymoon began with my wife. I wanted to appreciate her like I did when we were newly married. Suddenly I was kissing her at stoplights and grabbing her for little moments of passion in the kitchen. She was wondering if our 4 year old would think something strange was afoot. So I don’t really know why it was, but Armitage was some kind of catalyst for some kind of awakening

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    • Just now catching up on the comments.

      Wow. Haven’t read all of the comments, but I’m assuming my wow is shared by most of the women here. For me the wow is not so much that you love period drama or that you can be moved enough by a drama to manifest certain behaviors. I have a significant other who is actually more prone to like period drama and be moved by it than I am. So it’s certainly not that but rather that you’re willing to share it here.

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  16. Sorry- hit send prematurely. So Armitage was a catalyst for some kind of awakening relating to my concept of myself as a man and my relationship with my wife. So, I guess what I’m saying in a way is, I get it. There is something different about the guy that is not just the product of his really wonderfully gauged acting.
    I guess what made me decide to say hi though was that I wanted to commend your taste in Lenten music. I have loved the Gardiner Matthew passion for many years. A. Rolfe Johnson is a peerless evangelist, and the opening chorus alone is worth the price of the box set. I have wanted to try Herreweghe’s reading and I feel that your recommendation would likely not go amiss. And “mache dich” is definitely a desert island excerpt. Enjoy!

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    • I never cease to be amazed by the comments here. I do believe this is a first. Servetus? Where are you?

      (Oh, and hello Charles. You comment was thought-provoking. I wonder how many other guys lurking out there have had similar experiences.)

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    • I was teaching a class 🙂 Indeed, I am pretty sure this is the first time a man has ever commented on this blog — and I’m so flabbergasted that I’m tempted to create a main post that points back here, except I think he’d be scared away 🙂

      charles, thanks so much and welcome, for all kinds of reasons. I am really interested in your comment that seeing N&S and Armitage affected your thinking on your self-concept. As a professor I am of course compelled to say, can you be more specific, but that would be rude. Thanks so much for adding this information to our picture of Mr. Armitage.

      re: Matthew passions — do you have the recording of the Rilling? I was thinking of buying it this year. I loved the Gardiner Christmas Oratorios which moved me to buy the Passion, but I feel like he loses steam in the second part. As for Herreweghe, this was the first one I owned so I am partial — but I think it’s his second record of it. I do feel confident that money spent on that is not wasted.

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      • I figure once I leave a comment on someone’s blog, they can do whatever they like with it. So don’t worry, I am not easily scared.
        As far as the deeper mechanism at work behind n&s being a catalyst for change, I haven’t really come to any conclusions. On a broad level, I believe that good art has the power to be transformative. Specifically, I would say that Armitage’s portrayal of Thornton struck me as a depiction of manhood worthy of emulation (sans the tendency to violence, perhaps). Thornton’s strength, determination and ability to self-define do not preclude depth of feeling, tenderness, and perhaps most importantly, capacity for change. Maybe I’ll have think more about it.

        It’s always impossible to gauge the effect that the ‘first recording’ has on your perception of a piece forever. Gardiner’s was my first Matthew passion, and also inoduced me to the revelation of Bach on period instruments. There are so many details I adore, but I can say that some tempi do seem a little flippant at times.

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  17. I thought I had a reasonable vocabulary, but it continues to be enhanced here. So much for hubris. Farrago was fine, but I did have to check on theodicy. The concept is familiar, but the term wss not. I prided myself on not requiring a dictionary. Now the ancient battered copy of the OED is nearby. Never too old to modify one’s modus operandi. Or is that operandus?

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    • I love being forced to have a dictionary nearby as I’ve had some hubris myself about my vocabulary. I’ve learned quite a few words from this blog, but I actually knew theodicy and farrago. LOL! The latter is not due to my background in Latin but that I live in cattle country!

      And it’s operandi because it’s a gerund and would not be in nominative singular. I think. Not sure yet; need more coffee. 😉

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    • Heh, I’ve never had to google so much in my life since reading this blog. There’s a browser tab here just for that purpose. She’s conditioned me to the point where I’m almost disappointed if she doesn’t spring on on me. 😉

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  18. March hares and rabbits, everyone!

    @RAFrenzy, Yup, my Latin is so many decades back! Thanks! (I did like Catullus though; hmnn, Catullus and Mr. Armitage?)

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    • @fitzg, If I had not been teaching Latin off and on for the last decade, I would have remembered almost nothing except maybe a few legal terms, and those I would like to forget. LOL!

      @Servetus, I had a really cool Latin teacher in high school. She became a friend to several of us students, and some of us hung out at her house regularly. I knew all about Catalus then, which was when you were probably, well, never mind. LOL!
      Of four years of Latin, the last two were spent translating quite a few works including Catallus. I also remember discussing this stuff with my parents, and my dad saying, “Yeah, translate that sh*t, but don’t forget to come up for air.”

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      • I had no Latin till grad school — and I think it didn’t include Catullus. I think we read him in undergrad, maybe, in an ancient civilizations class? Memories becoming dusty. No way we’d have been allowed to read that in the high school I went to. Then again, my high school didn’t have foreign languages 🙂

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  19. Just did some remedial research on Catullus. It appears that I might not have picked up, in high school Latin, on some aspects of critical etc. views of the poet’s work applied to what said critics deduce of his life.

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  20. Seriously, folks, you never cease to amaze.

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  21. Relating to Charles comment: discovering Mr Thornton while my husband was gone for a vacation trip during winter holiday with the kids brought exactly the same reaction to me….
    His performance in North and South made me become again the wife and lover I had been once to my dear husband…. Whom noticed it with astonishment, and delight (hum, hum!) on his return…
    Mr Armitage did not induce any kind of sexual phantasm to me. Still wondering why, though, and maybe a bit upset with the fact that I might enjoy some … Working on it!

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    • So RA’s performance rekiindled the passion, but not the man himself? That’s not a bad recommendation, it speaks volumes on his acting. Should you wish to stick around, even this lot here can’t covert you, nobody can! 😉

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      • Thank you for the invitation. I believe I will stay around for good if I may.

        Referring to your kind answer, there are multiple facets to RA as a whole; and “no sexual fantasy” does not mean no fantasy at all. So far, I have been able to sort the reactions triggered by those facets as follow:

        Mr Armitage the performer, igniting the passion back in my life.

        Mr Armitage, the sexual fantasy, either personification of his characters or himself, (fantasy which would include myself been put in any “given” interaction with him) – totally absent for the moment and still wondering why. But as I said, wouldn’t hurt to get some.

        Mr Armitage, the intellectual fantasy, the professional self, reflecting on his “art”(his work as an artist and actor), (fantasy which definitely includes me as the received) -. Hugely present at the moment. Scenarios about long, intense and unleashed conversations about his choices, way of performing, musical preferences when playing cello or listening to others interpretations, etc…

        Mr Armitage, the emotional fantasy, the personal self, (fantasy which definitely includes me as the provider and receiver of any kind of casual interaction, emotional support, etc…) – So completely overwhelming at the moment, at very odd times and places like when caring for the kids or preparing meals, …

        Mr Armitage, the physical trigger, the body self, either from characters or himself, from interviews, promotional pictures, etc …any physical clues (visual or audible, the only two senses I can actually indulge and fuel due to the screen barrier – not that I would try to get any of my other senses to be fuelled as well, since it would mean that Mr A. would loose his pedestal position in this equation). Inflicting randomly (and without prior notice) any of the following to my poor body: tears, upset stomach, ovarian implosion, wet palms, shivering, name it …

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  22. Dear Servetus

    Your comment on Mr Armitage picture while watching the violinist at the Old Vic theatre: Feeler and Thinker.
    Would it be possible for him to be the artist we know he is, if he was not one and the other? Would his performances be so profoundly shaking (or deeply touching) if he had not carefully analyze and articulate the feelings he chose to perform, and then not just play those feelings but really embrace them?
    Would you mind analyzing for us his body language at that very moment?
    (sorry for the poor vocabulary, so frustrating not to find the right nuances in english)

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  23. “As Guy of Gisborne, Armitage dances on a tightrope so taut that we’re never sure what’s pantomime and what’s life lesson.” You don´t know how much that is true….

    Can you put up a link to your post with the Guy picture?

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  24. @Zibeline,I found that a wonderful analysis of the effect of Mr. Armitage.

    servetus

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  25. @Zibeline,I found that a wonderful analysis of the effect of Mr. Armitage.

    servetus inspires her readers to anaytical expression.

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  26. Now if she could work miracles on my proof-reading, that would be good.
    Analytical…

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    • One miracle at the time…

      @ Analytical view (did check twice for this one;-) Servetus was able already to give us some sanity back by allowing our thoughts to get straightened. THANKS for that!

      @ “roof preading” keyboard and screen don’t help, I think….

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  27. […] wrong. All in all, blogging Armitage has been beyond good, as I expressed in my anniversary post; it’s been a lifesaver and I think it’s also been beneficial to me in other ways that I haven’t had time to […]

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  28. […] in my search for an explanation of what’s happened to me, and what my new identity should be, as I’ve said before. Armitagemania saved me. I plan to continue to blog here, and have taken some steps toward doing […]

    Like

  29. […] and though it’s been creatively productive, and thus one I wouldn’t want to miss, it’s not the cause. Sorting out this problem with regard to the beard confounded me for weeks. Yes, Servetus the woman […]

    Like

  30. […] occasion when I’d have to accomplish them. Paralysis and anhedonia were the linked results. Armitagemania offered the cure for both of those: I felt true pleasure again for the first time in years, and I was able to face the tasks I needed […]

    Like

  31. […] — not only expressing myself involuntarily, as when I began writing here, or voluntarily, as it developed over the course of the first year, but now enthusiastically. I think the big symptom of this is the fanfic. I just write down […]

    Like

  32. […] I have to prevent my senses from closing down. I think that was part of what was happening during the bad time — I had shut down certain sensory receptors for a long time because the input was so painful, […]

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  33. ياااالبيييه يارتشرد
    احبك قسم

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  34. […] to get over. I’ve said before that I read Armitage’s performance in Robin Hood as expertly treading a very fine line between pantomime and life lesson, and I want to explore that more, and I fear sometimes that The Hobbit will make that impossible. […]

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  35. […] In contrast, as I’ve mentioned before, I watched it not because it calmed me down, but because it woke me up. In the end, my fascination with the series had to do with the confluence of its content and what […]

    Like

  36. […] the solution to this problem and it’s the same answer that appeared all those months ago. Open yourself to the sensation that Armitage and his performances provoke; let your senses take over your […]

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  37. […] Armitagemania opened up my senses, and helped me confront some troublesome questions, and raised others, and compelled me to start blogging. Blogging found me people to come along on the journey with me, and let me have a place where what I think is important is what is dealt with in the way best suited to my own creative capacities. It let me see that what I desire is legitimate — not something shameful in need of discipline — and that writing is the way to harness to desire for my own ends. […]

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  38. […] Hood, Richard Armitage found ways to transcend this central structural problem of the show. As I’ve written before, one of the strengths of Armitage’s performance throughout the series was his ability to […]

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  39. […] the beginning — I was in this for the way watching Richard Armitage made me feel. And the way that, in turn, my feelings opened up my own understanding of my […]

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  40. […] mechanism that I used for a long time, and one that’s dangerous when it persists because I stop feeling. (So, yeah, those “Armitage leads with the feelings” posts were not immaterial to me […]

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  41. […] She had the feeling of losing G-d. She had the feeling of losing the ideas. Her emotions turned off….. […]

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  42. […] blogiversaries: one and thoughts on one and […]

    Like

  43. […] attracted me, and then made me think about my own life. Because that work made me write again, woke me up. Gave me things back that I had forgotten about. Kept me writing, kept me thinking, got my life going […]

    Like

  44. […] why can I not stop myself? (I described that experience, from the vantage point of a year later, here.) Should I not be trying to stop myself? What would my friends think if they knew? Should I not be […]

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  45. […] the world not just differently, but in a transformative way. The tidal wave of emotion that hit me in January of 2010 and wouldn’t let go and opened my senses again and let the words pou…. That onslaught of reactions I don’t immediately understand but that leave me so full of […]

    Like

  46. […] really knocked me over, as I’ve written before, to the extent that all I did in free time for several weeks was watch North & […]

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  47. […] else matters, at this early point, but at some point around Thursday it will hit me in a dream: The fascination with Armitage comes from the way it re-induced flow in me, and short of being able to attend a rehearsal, this is the closest connection to that process I […]

    Like

  48. […] now, that there is a different mode of being a superfan than the one I’d been living through. Encountering Richard Armitage in North & South saved me, and my conviction about that has grown stronger rather than weaker as the dozens of months have […]

    Like

  49. […] & South was that something you did suddenly made it okay for me to ask again who I was and to allow in the sensory data and emotional responses that would help me answer that question. I don’t know why that night. I don’t know why you. I don’t know anything. Why […]

    Like

  50. […] Three or four people reminded me this week that it was my Armitagemania onset anniversary and I found myself reflecting, off and on, about how that storm hit and the feeling the first weeks afterward. It was a little bit like the World Cup of Armitagewatching — it’s just instead of watching soccer in every spare second I was watching  North & South, living for the moment when I could go home and turn on that VCR. Quoting myself: […]

    Like

  51. […] the effect that Richard Armitage had on me in North & South made me wonder about my sanity. I could not get the television show or the actor or the man out of my thoughts for about six weeks. I added North & South to a syllabus at the last second in January 2010 so I could justify the […]

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  52. […] got conversion experiences. We’ve got a theology and rules about behavior, and we’ve got traditions about the […]

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  53. […] but never in any other sense (which explains, probably, why it was so annoying). As I wrote well after it happened, but long before I had even begun to understand the process, Armitage became the focus for all of […]

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  54. […] initial story that founded this blog — that Richard Armitage made my life in January and February of 2010 possible, by taking it over — is just as true now. I just cannot stop looking at him and […]

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  55. […] withering away of the creative impulse altogether) was so personally and emotionally damaging that when my first encounters with Armitage’s work gave those impulses back to me, it felt like a final chance to figure out how to resolve this conflict and continue working […]

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  56. […] it, when I heard that Armitage would be on stage again, I had that visceral feeling that I had on the first night of Armitagemania, and at the first time I saw Armitage on stage in London. It doesn’t happen all that often […]

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  57. […] him. The reasons for it lay in a deep career crisis that was about to get worse. The effects were total immobilization and a gradual reawakening of my perceptive capacities and an increased willingn… feel. His beauty was there to catch my attention and the story of Mr. Thornton was there to address […]

    Like

  58. […] Thornton caused Armitagemania onset, and I devoted a lot of attention to figuring that out and describing it. Thorin Oakenshield has meant a lot to me, too, although I’ve spent the […]

    Like

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