Thursday, September 02, 2004


Just your average, everyday update...

I went 'n saw Prisoner of Azkaban, cuz it was meine tochter's b-day proper (and not just the day we threw the party...), and much quality time since spent trying to master the bicycle and going to swimming pools, cuz after a verrry rainy and cold spring, the weather in Munich has suddenly turned to mid-summer temps and clear, clear girl's beautiful, beautiful joy in the water...oh my goodness...I just fall in love watching her, to explain, that sense, in what we call love...

Okay, this could get thick, cuz the word 'love' is one that is tough for me. Not to say: I'm not one of those papas that doesn't know how to say 'I love you' on a very regular basis...but because I *think* hard about using any such word...I want to know that I'm telling the truth, and it's important enough to me that when I run across a word like that, like 'love,' one that doesn't really have some physical thing you can point to and say, 'That's what I mean,' I really have to question the word from all angles. And there's been oceans of ink spilled on this word, and a lot of it is directly contradictory to other words written about same. So...a couple of stories in preface:

One: friend Tania, Mauritian, 3rd culture kid, reigning riot grrl of the English poetry slam community in Munich (as measured by one off the wall, out of the way amateur night in a poorly attended, soon to be closing Irish pub...that's soon), talks to me about her early experiences with language, her love for same, and her curiosity and the way it expressed itself at a young age. Multiple language perspective--she speaks several, including English, Arabic, and German. She remembers, her earlier memories, were of latching onto a word and moving the sounds around, that at an early age, it was the sound that intrigued her, and her inner experiments on the matter concentrated on sound. So, for example, she would hear a word like (to pick one at random from the titles on my resource bookshelf) 'complete,' and she would go through permutations in her thoughts, changing the sound of the word, for example, to:


etc... A bit like a song one of my younger sisters used to annoy the fuck out of me with, involving the following sentence:

I eat apples and bananas

which was then shifted in sound to represent five of the basic vowel sounds, thus:

A Ate Apples and Bananas (long A)
E Eet Eepples Eend Beeneenees (long E)
I Ite Iypples Iynd Biyniyniys (long I)
O Oat Oapples Oand Boanoanoas (long O)
U Ute Upples Und Bununus (short U)

And okay, so as not to bore you shitless with lists of vowel permutations, the conversation turned to different approaches to language, i.e., this is not how I first remember fascination with how sounds work. My own experience, and in fact the first I can remember, was much more attuned to questions of meaning. I can quite vividly remember questioning how 'green', the sound, came to mean a particular range on the spectrum...that is, the fascination took the form of how meaning was attached to certain groups of sounds. It was about connecting the word to the thing. Full circle: 'love' is tricky in this respect, cuz you're not pointing to any 'thing' or even, really, a quality of a 'thing.' This means that often, when wandering around, living my everyday life, there will be weeks when there is a single word, or group of words, that is battering around in my head, with me coming at it from every angle of meaning that I can access with my infinitely finite capacity for comprehension (read: small brain). I can remember one particularly tough period of time, in terms of personal development, which happened to roughly correspond with the Sept. 11 attacks, which sent me on a months-long contemplation of the word 'innocence' (and the word was rather being tossed around without any real regard for its meaning at the time...).

So: story two. In my family, there is a raging debate about this particular subject, with both sides citing the infinite wisdom to be gathered in pop culture to back up our positions. It basically goes like this: my wife's position is that 'All you need is love.' Now, with full acknowledgement of the Beatles' much wider appeal, I tend to go for the much more cynical wisdom of the less-well-known (or at least less-well-appreciated) Iggy Pop, who said, in his song, 'Lust for Life,' 'Love is just like hypnotizing chickens.' For the present, my daughter is on my side, though I'm sure she will react strongly against this at a later time. She is on my side because of our exercise of prioritizing the needs of aerobic life forms, namely, 1) air, 2) water, 3) food, and numbers 4, 5, and 6 subject to shifting positions depending on prevailing climatic conditions, 4) clothing, 5) shelter, and 6) lurrve (and in my own view, this would be interpreted on a very basic, biological level, i.e. sex. )

All that said, there are those moments, either watching my daughter, or even in her absence (while riding my bike to various tutoring assignments, for example) when I am overwhelmed by my feelings for this creature. They are not, however, unrelentingly positive feelings, and that is the point I'm centering around, I think. Because the whole package is in there, isn't it? Hope and fear in equal, and equally powerful portions. That sense that she will shine, and that sense of the world around her, and its tendency to dull the shine of even the most bright among is that knot, here represented by the word fear, that potential for real harm within the thing we call love...that having invested so much of one's emotional well-being in the development and continued well-being of another human, there is real risk involved. I'm realistic enough to understand the possibility that this entire complex of emotions is very possibly nothing but a set of bio-chemical reactions centered, largely, on my natural, biological need to perpetuate my own genes...but romantic enough to believe that taking that risk is, yes, necessary to one's own well-being.

So--I don't know if that explains a damned thing, but I was smacked in the head with it yesterday, watching my daughter in the pool, watching as she ventured closer and closer to the deep water, restraining myself from diving in and calling her back (a difficult task for me still)...her beauty, her hands flying in joy at contact with the water, her smile, incredible, in some blissed-out space (she has lost the front two of her upper teeth recently...her smile is still new to me, at present)--the beauty of THAT, and the very real desire, from the point of view of her father, to want to preserve her in that bliss...but again...that knowledge, that attempts to preserve that bliss are ultimately mechanisms of control...that her life, that her being needs relief from that bliss, must experience something other from that.

Okay...this was meant to be a brief update of practical goings on...the many projects (at present, deep editor duties, work toward grad. proposal in Perth--I have a positive reaction from a couple of the profs there, but it's very much on the surface at present...I have to contact refs. and flesh out the proposal, and quick...and a skit proposal with Tania that necessitates finding good 'carpe diem' quotes, either scriptural or poetry...btw--that last is a call for suggestions, so if you've a fave, do send it along...)...instead, it's turned into a rather extensive, and circumnavigatory, exploration of the basic bond between father and child.

Such is the nature of journaling, I spose.

All right...lengthy this...and I have a lot I need to do today, so I will sign off as



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