Ross Woodman: The Forsaken Garden (Nancy Ryley)

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ForsakenGarden“Marion and I gave a course together in England. It was very funny because everybody, down to the last person in that room, was there to listen to Marion Woodman. Two hundred people signed up to listen to Marion Woodman — they knew her books. But if they were to going to get Marion Woodman, on this occasion they were also going to have to take her husband. That was the attitude, there was no question about it. They’d never heard of me. And they thought, well, we can put up with him in order to hear her!
But also they were very curious. What kind of man did she marry? And where was he all those years when she was in Zurich training at the Jung Institute? Who was this perfectly conventional, middle-class English professor whom she could so conveniently leave in order to go about her individuation? You could juste taste it — you could just see it in their faces as they looked at me.
We walked into the room filled with people and we sat down. Then, as Marion talked, they watched me to see how I reacted. Is he resentful? Is he competitive? Is he willing to take a back seat to this woman? Who is he?
Marion took about fifteen minutes to introduce me, integrate me into the workshop. I was supposed to talk about William Blake. You can imagine how interested they were in William Blake! ‘Are we going to have to go through all this to hear Marion? Do we have an hour of Ross Woodman talking about William Blake before we can get to the real nitty-gritty?’
So I said: “Blake is not what you’re here for. You want to know about me, and you want to know about our relationship. You want to know how I, as a man and a husband, could endure this woman. And what this did to my ego. And how I survived her being gone on and off for five years”. Of course, there was great laughter.
[…] So I talked to the audience about the process o separation that began when she went to Zurich. By this I meant the process of our differentiating out from each other, and how excruciatingly painful that was. And how comfortable, by contrast, the other relationship had been. I told them that the real beginning of my marriage to Marion was not uniting with her — it was separating from her. ”

— Ross Woodman in conversation with Nancy Ryley in The Forsken Garden
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