My father would have been 130 years old today.
Born February 2nd 1880, he lived till March 20th 1967. He gave and gives me a psychic link to the nineteenth century. He was in the first motorised vehicle, a Benz motorcar, which drove to Stonehenge, in 1895, year of The Importance of Being Earnest and then the Oscar Wilde trial. He and his first wife were ‘turned down’ by the Bloomsbury set, having been ‘interviewed’ by Clive and Vanessa Bell (my father’s mother was from the Bell family, and Clive Bell was my father’s cousin – the name Heward was introduced as a first name by the Bells -
on the grounds that they were too sporty, too interested in tennis, cricket, and suchlike things!
So the natural 19th century part of me – drawn to the great creative minds who grew up in the 19th century and who flourished in their heyday in the 30s, 40s, and 50s, who I encountered in their twilight, Leavis, Klemperer, John Wisdom, Donald McKinnon, CD Broad, HH Price, and my much loved supervisor, Brian Lake – comes in the end from my father. I recognise an element of this in my friendship with James Grotstein, as indicated in my paper on his book, and again, further developed, in my book:
In many ways, as Proust understood so well, I ‘become’ my father as I grow older. For instance, his greatest musical love was Brahms, and whilst I do not regard Brahms as the greatest of all composers, he is of the great ones for me, and there are times when I hardly play anything but Brahms. My religious agnosticism, tinged with an openness to reverence for spirituality which comes from my mother, perhaps in the end comes from my father. I feel it in my body. Do we ever adopt any beliefs on rational grounds I wonder? How can we know in any case? Nietzschean questions!
I am probably in many ways essentially more ’50s’ than ’60s’, therefore. Much hangs on that in relation to my views in philosophy and psychotherapy – but I shall leave that for another time.