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Thursday, March 06, 2014

Words of Love (Reading Jill Rapaport)

(Ruth E. Hendricks - Greenwich Village)
no copyright infringement intended

It is in the book of Jill Rapaport (Duchamp et Moi and Other Stories) a very special story. It is talking about love. About longing for a passed love, never fulfilled.  The story has a weird title, Sic Mundi Transit Gloria (page 114): the wording order is changed, maybe to express the revolt against fate, maybe to suggest that once love is becoming a memory, it's not world's glory that's passing, rather world as a whole.

It's a delicate story, like a Japanese elegy. The tone is dignified, the sadness is superbly contained within words. The father has passed away, too early and too sudden, leaving the relationship with his daughter unresolved. There were words expected by both of them, gestures, never said, never made, always postponed. There had been a tension between the two, not visible, somehow implicit. The daughter felt not understood. The same for the father. Each one was expecting the other to make the first step. Each one didn't know how to do it. It was too late now.

And the daughter was now looking for the places of meaning for his father. Streets he had enjoyed to walk by, a restaurant he had frequented, a store where he had always gone to buy his pipe tobacco. He was coming home showing her the  new tobacco box he had bought. After emptying it, the box was taken by the daughter to play with. That had been long time ago, now she was in her early twenties.

So she was walking now on the same streets, visiting the same restaurants and stores, looking at the houses and the people. For the daughter each of those places was having a special charge. The father had met there people who, one way or another, had a significance for him. Talking now with these people meant somehow trying to find his persona. It was not only about people. There was also a spirit of the place that the father had sensed there. A collective spirit, now charged also with his memory.

The young man at the counter in the tobacco store hadn't known the father. She tried anyway to force a connection, thinking for one moment at a mysterious step-brother, whom she had never met (as he was living in a faraway country). No, the young man in front of her was a Korean.  He was nice and the daughter felt attracted by him. Also he seemed to enjoy her companion. A story of love could start now. For her it would have been a continuation and fulfillment. It  never went further. Maybe he was too timid, maybe it was another thing making their relation impossible.

(Jill Rapaport)



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