samedi 1 mars 2008

the imagistic and sentimental lives of humans

To be taken seriously is a difficult thing--people see you as fat, skinny, with curly hair, with thin hair so that your scalp comes through, with an accent from "deep" in the South as if your very language was something vaginal, meaning to be hidden, behind layers of undergarments that you invariably clothe yourself when speaking to outsiders. You are a person whose aspirations, fears, humiliations, nostalgias, sentimental attachment to objects, scraps of paper, ticket stubs, old pictures with captions scribbled in blue ink on the back, and other bits of emotional marginalia are voided, unwarranted, moot, and perhaps meant to be ridiculed by others, especially the Other.

This of course has significance relating to ethnic literature. I choose not to use a messy orthography to capture the phonetic behavior of Cajun speech. I choose not to write about the nature of the French language in Louisiana. I choose not to marginalize myself any more than I do by breathing.

But beyond this, to be taken seriously is what all humans want from a relationship, any relationship. You don't want to be the fool, but more you want your feelings justified. The problem is that others are not willing to justify them for you--unless it means justifying their own private lives.

I recently had lunch with the major living poet of the Acadian canon, Herménégilde Chiasson. Generous in conversation and approachable, he suffered through my French for several hours as we discussed many things--poetics, aesthetics, art history, socio-cultural linguistics, Acadian and Cajun identity, etc. But the best part of meeting with him was the undeniable feeling I got that he was a human and that he recognized and catered to others as such.

This confirmed my suspicion from reading his most recent collection, Béatitudes, which following a rough formula of the beatitudes of Jesus, makes a litany of "those who.." (ceux qui...) and sometimes follows the result and sometimes doesn't, which is always into beatification. Although this beatification is not necessarily the one of spiritual salvation (although it can be read that way), and in a few occasions the text uses a critical tone against organized faith and traditional concepts of heaven. The salvation that can be culled is the salvation of being human, of knowing that everyone has little fears, anxieties, hopes, joys, and ritual actions that seem meaningless, trite, etc to others but define the borders of life. I wish I had the work in front of me, but I jetted it off to Linda as soon as I finished it.

This is the success of contemporary phenomena like Post Secret, reality television, and blogs. People want to see the glimmers of the human they can relate to, hold sacred, feel connected. This is too the success of literature, of music, of art, of poetry. To take humans seriously.

Aucun commentaire: