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Jeanette Winterson : The Secret Life of Us

I know of a man, a Quaker, who volunteered as an ambulance driver in the second world war. While other men had pictures of their sweethearts in their breast pockets, he carried a photo of a Queen Anne chair. In his despair at where human folly had brought him and millions of others, he needed to remember the glory of the human spirit, as well as its loss. Like Barbara Hepworth, he believed that art affirms and sustains life at its highest level. He became an antique dealer because he wanted to be surrounded by what the Jews call "real presences". A real presence is one where spirit and body, or spirit and object, have never been separated. It doesn't matter whether we are talking a chair, a picture, a book or a human being; what makes us feel alive is the living quality lodged there.

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