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October 24, 2010

What of the Objects?

You know, the things to which you apply Meaning simply by owning them for a while?

That’s another issue. You have to realize that the meaning changes when you no long own them, which is a kind way of saying “it’s wiped clean when you die, mate.” There are some things whose previous meaning I can infer; my Grandma had a little metal container for pins, with 1893 Columbian Exposition engraved on the cover. It was regarded as junk, I guess, but my mom kept it, and then it passed to me. It’s possible my great-grandfather went. He got out of town from time to time. The fact that it sat on her dresser for seven decades was enough to infuse it with meaning, but that’ll be lost after me; daughter didn’t know her, never saw the farm, never saw the sleek 30s Sears bedroom-set dresser on which it sat. Daughter may see a corner of that dresser in an old photo, because I inherited it. But that’s the end of the chain – after that, it’s a series of facts, not a sequence of memories and emotions. -- The Burden of Things – The Bleat.

Posted by Vanderleun at October 24, 2010 12:55 PM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

Your Say

Heh, at three score & 7, I can identify. My grand-sprouts would never
wear my luvly Ralph Lauren leather hipster, "Cuz it's not BLACK, grand-dood!"

They'll keep the old ID bracelet though, acquired in the Crash of '87...
it's solid 18K gold. That kind of tradition they can appreciate.

Posted by: Robert at October 24, 2010 4:40 PM

I often wonder about the loss of language and meaning. There is a little cemetery not too far south from here, next to a little Welsh chapel. All the headstones are in Welsh, and they still have services in Welsh in the chapel. The old people greet me in Welsh, and I can understand a little of it. Bore da and Noswaith dda (good morning and good night) and Yr ar weli! (go to bed.) No one outside of Wales would be able to understand it, or why they bother speaking it.

Comfort language must be like comfort food.

We have words we use in our families that stay in our families, and no one outside the family can understand them. Our older children's names became something entirely different from what we gave them at birth in the mouth of their baby sister. And we added her words like milk and yellow. (Mook and lellow) and banklet for blanket to theirs: The Big Noise - ambulance or police sirens. Hepticopper - helicopter. The Rudder Baby - the other baby. Mickey - Mary's security blanket which morphed from Blanket into bickey and then into mickey.

A new person is on the way in December, and he will give us a new trove of words to treasure, and will get many more from us.

Posted by: Jewel at October 24, 2010 10:42 PM

With forethought and care and practice, you can tell a story to a youngster, about an ancestor they never knew, and you can link fragments of the ancestor's personality and experiences to an object they owned in a way that will stick with the younger ones forever. Then if you rear that child to have those storytelling gifts themselves, they will pass along the story and the object from their unknown ancestors. Furthermore, they will create those stories about you, and link them to your objects.

The entire edifice falls, however, if you fail in your duty to teach oncoming generations. It falls also if you choose the objects unwisely, or choose too many of them.

Life is experience, emotion, achievement, learning. The more objects you allow to get in the way, the less real life you will have. Americans in general have too much by several orders of magnitude. Unburden yourself. Throw off the tyranny of things and invest instead in the journey - and the companions.

Posted by: raincityjazz at October 25, 2010 10:19 PM

Wonderful sentiments, Jewel, and thanks for sharing. Anyone who has visited Britain and not walked around in Wales has missed a unique culture, not to mention a warmth and openness unavailable anywhere else that I've been blessed to experience.

You can feel it in Charlotte Church's performance in London (by royal command) for the Prince of Wales' 50th birthday. The male chorus behind her are all Welsh veterans of many wars. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hz9_ELpil9w
The very last, truly incredible note says it all. She was 14 at the time.

Posted by: Robert at October 26, 2010 3:40 PM

Bendigedig, Robert!

Posted by: Jewel at October 27, 2010 11:46 PM

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