Recorded: 14 Jun 2005
He was different from anyone that I had ever met. I’ve met so many people living in California all those years, mixing with all sorts of people from Mexican peasants to I don’t know, sort of university people. To me anyway, there was something different in him and it wasn’t that he was—oh, I knew right away he so brilliantly clever, because I still don’t know how brilliantly clever he is because I don’t understand half of the work that he does. So I don’t appreciate how clever he is in his work. I can’t tell you how he was different. I know that he is such a mixture. When somebody came to paint his portrait and they had a funny slightly hunched—because he does put his head forward, slightly hunched man with a no-expression face. I said, take that away, take it out of my house, don’t see it, let me tell you about this man. Let me tell you—this was an Englishman. I said let me tell you about where he comes from. I’m not sure whether to start back with Moses and the crossing of the sea and the parting of the waves or whether I can start a little later than that. _______from Middle East. Eastwoods into Westwoods, finally into what was recently Russia and is now probably other things like the Ukraine where my mother comes from.
If you don’t understand where he comes from and the laughter and the dancing and the singing and the pain and the fear. If you don’t take that into yourself and put it into the picture, don’t try and do a portrait of Sydney because he is all of that. Besides which he is a clown and besides which, he is the saddest man I ever knew and besides which, he is anything and everything that is contradictory.
I’m not talking about egos and ids or I am perhaps. And I’m not talking about human archetypes or totally different, the good, the bad or perhaps I am. It feels much more primitive, much more grounded. I still haven’t met anyone like Sydney. Not that I’ve been looking for fifty-three years, I haven’t.
May Brenner was married to Sydney Brenner from December 1952 until her death in January 2010. She was engaged in doing a Ph.D. in Psychology in London.