Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Few Digressions

I might as well say it: I agonized over what to title this great piece of wit and originality. I thought maybe, "A few digressions: an autobiography." Or, "A few digressions, a few daddy long-leg spiders, and a king tossed in for flavor." Or, "An Autobiography: daddy long-legs, a poet, and a king." All of which were charming and very interesting but, much, much too long. So. "A Few Digressions" it is.

Some people write endlessly of themselves like great men who carefully recount their memoirs in meticulous detail for the reading pleasure of all the world and all history. A life in black ink on white paper apparently holds more intrinsic value as each occasion is duly noted and documented, than a simple life, unrecorded, un-remarked upon, and never read, much less written could possibly possess. There is, I must acknowledge, something in the telling of them, that renders each moment more momentous and enchanting than before. A moment lived and a moment expressed are two entirely different experiences that, like port and chocolate, are better had together. Having said as much, I hereby both criticize and utilize the practice of autobiography, assuring myself of the world’s indulgence, un-warranted as it may be and distressing as it may prove. Amen.

When at college and laboring over Latin, Milton wrote this rebellious interjection:

“Hail, Native Language, that by sinews weak,
Didst move my first-endeavoring tongue to speak,
And madest imperfect word, with childish trips,
Half unpronounced, slide through my infant lips,
Driving dumb silence from the portal door,
Where he had mutely sat two years before:
Here I salute thee in my latter task…”

Lest any random, innocent reader should think me a well-read intellectual of sorts, let me confess immediately that I never read Milton till yesterday—when I discovered another book on my shelf, borrowed and unread for nearly a year. The subsequent guilt pangs prompted me to peruse a few pages at least. But I digress.

My intellectual ambition is at best sporadic, and as far as wit is concerned, I am generally know to be somewhat charming at times of rare enlightenment. Enlightenment for me is most generally and quite certainly always accompanied by tea. Not any tea bag tossed in a mug you understand, but real, sensible, sit down and pour-it-from-a-pot tea. Accompanied nicely of course by sweet bread and jam of some kind. There is nothing—absolutely nothing that can produce equal clarity of mind and sensitivity of judgment as a good tea. Except of course the work of the Spirit Himself. But then I have often wondered whether He doesn’t work through tea in the majority of cases. But I digress.

I will spare you the entire quote, and simply get to the point—something I am famed for. Oh, I thought of something else that the Spirit undoubtedly works through: Chopin’s nocturnes. Actually, through Maria Joao Pires who plays them and whose name I will never remember how to pronounce. Although I suppose the argument could be made that the Spirit works through the Bose Wave Radio from which the scintillating music forthwith comes—but that may be, like Mary Poppins in the country, going a bit too far. “Doshus ali expi, listic, fragi cali rupus.” Or something like that. But again, I digress.

Milton and I both feel the need to pay our respects to our native English. Goodness knows we neither of us have had much success with any other language. At least I haven’t. I don’t know what my pal Milt would say, but if he’s an honest bloke I bet he’d tell you he failed Latin. I bet. Why else would he write such a poem write in the middle of a Latin assignment? At least I got a B in Spanish—not much to write home about, but still passing. In Milton’s case, his devotion to English served him well in the end—he is after all rather famous. I have yet to see but a smattering of the success I have asked of my language. Language is fitful I believe. Rather like temperamental Greek deities. And as you know, I am merely a rather ordinary, but hopeful mortal who sometimes tries her clumsy hand at the King’s English. Although, we don’t have a king, and that may have some bearing on the matter. A king to possess a language and press his seal of approval on a language, and give decrees in a language, and order books to be written in a language and torture school children with the learning of a language must of course lend credence and respectability to any common citizen, however lowly who employs said language’s use. There is a queen of course, but I’m not sure if that can have quite the same effect. People don’t say “the Queen’s English” any more than they say “the President’s English” (but then, that is understandable for in our case it would be “the President’s American”). It simply isn’t done. And so the collective writers of the English speaking nations of the world must suffer for it. No king, no respect, no love. Pardon me for a moment, its time for my daily “cry in a dark, dirty corner” session.

Okay, that’s better. Actually, I don’t really have such a thing as a daily “cry in a dark dirty, daddy long-leg infested corner” session. I just made that up. Just like I just added “daddy long-leg infested” to “dark, dirty corner.” It sounded better. And more dreadful. Daddy long-leg spiders in corners would make me cry. But yet again, I digress. Except this time, I’m not sure I can even remember what I was digressing from. I mean, “I’m not sure I can even remember from what I was digressing.” My apologies your majesty.

Till next time.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Of COURSE I remember you. :) My apologies for the length of time that has passsed since your remark on my own little blog. I thoroughly enjoyed reading every word of your digressions, and it reminded me very much of my blogs in olden times. Now that I am an old married woman (old- HA! not even quarter of a century...) I wish I made time for such meanderings but find that my blog is generally much too functional, even for my taste, these days. Alas, at least it keeps me cooking daily and is an outlet for creativity of the gourmet-sort, if not pondering the scholarly works I (no longer) peruse.