ineffable

Lunch consisted of leftovers from yesterday, check out the visual variation and see if you can spot the theme and subtle difference? For dessert, I had tea and orange jelly (made from, what else, gelatin, tea and orange juice!), with a few slivers of homemade candied orange peel. At dinner, I felt like a lighter meal, so I made cucumber salad – Thai fish sauce, lime juice, seaweed and sesame seed sprinkles – and a steamed egg. I actually steamed two, one for me and the other for Lucy. She loves egg, but I don’t like to give her too much, for fear of runny tummy. As usual, she lay nearby, in that majestic, elegant sphinx position, watching my every move. Her head would turn this way and that, as I chatted with her, sometimes in words, other times just making little noises, and her eyes carried a knowing that echoes beyond what any human eyes could convey to me.

I have a love-hate relationship with speaking. As a young child, language fascinated me. I am told that I didn’t speak much, preferring to play silently on my own, but when I did speak, I was like a bulldozer on speed. I figured out how to read and had almost no problems with spelling, just from identifying visual patterns, relating them to sounds and rhythmic sequences. Vowels and consonants were to me delightful combinations and permutations of moving, closing, pushing, pulling, open, shut, kinetic, percussive-sonic performances. Speaking is all part of ‘making sound’ to me, though it does carry meanings that other people understand more easily than other kinds of sounds that I like to make.

There are days when speaking is difficult – for both physical and mental reasons. The physical reasons are of course the autoimmune mouth ulcers that have plagued me since the age of 5. Humans are so limited in their ability to convey meaning, and it is literal hardship to speak. I remember I had a little notebook in which I would write my communications during severe flares. Humans need words, and I was great at learning words. Yet, words do tire me. That is when the mental word-fatigue sets in. I just don’t feel like making sentences from words. Poetry is better during these episodes. The problem with poetry is that humans don’t grasp the fragments well at all, in fact, I would prefer to speak in poetic language most of the time, but I remember the results, way back when I was a child, when I tried this experiment. I was variously mocked for being weird, met with puzzled looks, and just basically didn’t have much luck being understood.

I remember long discussions over drinks and too salty chorizo sausages with a brilliant composer friend of mine, about music being a language – I also witnessed a quite animated argument between him and an ethnomusicologist about the same subject. I have always seen two different views, not just one, but try telling that to either of them. It makes me smile even now. Actually, my friend who insists that music is indeed a language, is approaching his ideas from a very much autistic perspective. I do suspect he too is Aspie, looking at his other habits and quirks. To me, music is a language, but it exists and functions in a different realm. Much like the sonic paintings that I make in my head when I am unable or reluctant to speak. I wonder what kind of world it would be if music were the lingua franca?

Lucy, however, understands my sonic-rhythmic expressions beyond mere words. That is why she is my best companion. On days when the physical pain or the mental exhaustion just renders me speechless, I communicate with her using sounds, much like musical sounds, with tonalities, melismatic undulations and rhythmic-percussion guttural elements, combined with proprioceptive interjections. She has no trouble at all understanding me, and the level of intimacy is in so many ways much deeper and richer than I have ever shared with any other human. It is different, of course, never for a moment do I take her for a human being, but in this different dimension, there exists a profundity that cannot be explained in human words. It’s hard for people to understand that although Lucy is my most beloved, and I do call her my baby girl, I never for a moment imagine she is a human. In fact, it is because she is not human that she is so beautiful, and more penetratingly resonant. In and with her, I find an ineffable connection.

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