Sunday, September 27, 2015

On the Passing of Charles Henri Ford, Thirteen Years On

On the Passing of Charles Henri Ford, Thirteen Years On

 Young Charles Henry Ford in 1933, when he first arrived in Paris.
Photo Credit: Studio Piaz Paris 
While thinking about the 13th anniversary of Charles’s death, I looked into the pages of an old journal he kept in Tangier in 1932. I read entries about some of the things he was doing—lunching with Claude McKay, meeting Wilfredo Lam and describing the artist’s long brown fingers and gold bracelet, swimming, eating delicious meals, enjoying the company of his exotic friend Carmita, to whom he dedicated the journal, and getting letters from Paul Bowles in which Bowles talked about Algiers being magnificent and more savage and lovely than Morocco—all the kinds of unexpected pleasures and adventures Charles loved most. In short, he was having the time of his life in 1932, and marking down in his journal countless little observations, like these:

“Gertrude Stein, like Schnitzler, drinks no wine with her meals.”

“Anna Karenina is so great, so true and all told with such calm or passionate insight.”

“Of course we are all full of fleas and there seems no avoiding them.”

“The milk woman is about six feet tall and has been found out to have been charging for eight days in a week instead of seven.”

“People are born with everything important they will discover as the years fall: character, or lack of it, genius if any, strength or weakness, a beautiful nose or misshapen mouth, even an early death or a long lifetime…Man is delivered from the womb complete as a seed; everything else is accident.”

In 1932, Charles still had 70 glorious, accidental years ahead of him. And he lived every day of those years to the fullest, right up until he passed away on this day in 2002. I know because I spent many of his later years watching him do it, taking part in his exciting life, and having experiences for which I’ll be forever grateful. 

Charles, wherever you are, your work and influence down here still live on, as strong as ever, and you will be forever remembered and missed.

Charles Henri Ford
10th February 1908 – 27th September 2002

Indra Tamang

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