Extract from The Invitation by Barry Lopez as published in the last issue of Granta (n. 133), a thoughtful meditation on language and seeing:
“When I was young, and just beginning to travel with them, I imagined that indigenous people saw more and heard more, that they were overall simply more aware than I was. They were more aware, and did see and hear more than I did. The absence of spoken conversation whenever I was traveling with them, however, should have provided me with a clue about why this might be true; but it didn’t, not for a while. It’s this: when an observer doesn’t immediately turn what his senses convey to him into language, into the vocabulary and syntactical framework we all employ when trying to define our experiences, there’s a much greater opportunity for minor details, which might at first seem unimportant, to remain alive in the foreground of an impression, where, later, they might deepen the meaning of an experience.”
By Sylvia Plath
Since Christmas they have lived with us,
Guileless and clear,
Taking up half the space,
Moving and rubbing on the silk
Invisible air drifts,
Giving a shriek and pop
When attacked, then scooting to rest, barely trembling.
Yellow cathead, blue fish —-
Such queer moons we live with
Instead of dead furniture!
Straw mats, white walls
And these traveling
Globes of thin air, red, green,
The heart like wishes or free
Old ground with a feather
Beaten in starry metals.
Brother is making
His balloon squeak like a cat.
Seeming to see
A funny pink world he might eat on the other side of it,
Back, fat jug
Contemplating a world clear as water.
Shred in his little fist.
The Loss of Virginity relates a young girl’s sexual awakening to the natural landscape. Gauguin referred to the fox – a recurrent motif in his work – as the ‘Indian symbol of perversity’, though Breton folklore also identifies it with sexual power. The crowd of figures in the background may be a wedding party coming to meet the deflowered girl. Although painted in Paris at a time when Gauguin was closely involved with Symbolist writers and critics, the landscape is recognisable from other works that he made in Brittany. The model was Juliette Huet, a seamstress. She was two months pregnant at the time, and gave birth to their daughter Germaine while Gauguin was in Tahiti.
Sounds from my tree house at night (Trinidad). Listen to the sound of “silence”.
Musicians: frogs, crickets, geckos, beetles, etc.