Tag Archives: daptones

Daptones, Hannah Arendt and learning to read in different languages

Much has transpired and nothing since I last blogged. The earth is still turning, moon cycles wax and wan, people are being born and people are dying. Birds have been falling out of the sky, and bushes burning and as they have since Moses and before, they are being explained away as natural phenomena by some and interpreted as God by others. I have not gained or lost anything appreciably significant; still work as a nurse, still a Mom to men, still have friends, and still have those who find the discussion of all that is wrong with me incredibly entertaining. I still owe more than I make and yet have so much material abundance it would boggle me if I had been told even 25 years ago I would have this much in my lifetime. So nothing has changed, and everything. I feel like the little baby "thing" I dreamed of last night that I almost killed before deciding it was a recently hatched turtle and setting into water where it began to recover and swim. I dreamed the birth of the turtle who held the world on his back.

So while nothing and everything has been changing around and inside me, I have not blogged. I have been journaling in the interim, on paper, in private because counter to current cultural trends I believe somethings are better dealt with privately. Although Ego and its no-holds-barred, Look-at-me, look-at-me Western Cultural worship and re-inforcement would have me believe that privacy and silence are counterproductive to growth and happiness, I find the opposite to be true. Some realities are best dealt with silently and in private.  Nurturing what good would grow within us, the seeds of true greatness in their tiny shoot infancy, require shelter and softly spoken words and limited traffic. Also, there are parts of every life that are just better dealt with unannounced,  sequestered. As a nurse and as a human I know the power of isolation. Secrets have there place in daily life.

I close the door to my bathroom when it is in use, use deodorant and launder stains out of clothing, and keep displays of affection between myself and my lovers between them and I. I privatize large portions of who I am, not because I believe any facet of me is inherently shameful. All facts of existence are equally necessary for balance. A cloistered life is as much about keeping things in as it is about keeping things out of the walled and secret places. My invisibility and silence is a greenhouse for my soul.

Today, however is a Daptone day, an out loud flowering, getting my Soul on, hanging with people and singing what I gotta say at the top of my lungs day. I am currently blogging to "Daptone Gold" (from Hoodlum’s, of course). Daptone Records, a post-modern Brooklyn haven of horn blowing toe-tapping and riffing, or more specifically the music they produce is the reason I need (not just want) a great stereo system with a turntable. I am listening to a CD of music that is meant to be heard as an LP or a 45. I need a record player for the same reason I once needed to learn french for Hugo.

My  postmodern period started in fourth grade when I read translations of Les Miserable and the Hunchback of Notre Dame.  Hugo’s wretched ones redeemed me, hitting me upside my self-absorbed child’s head with philosophical sticks of grace and justice and while I preferred the Hugo opera’s happy ending (later used by Disney for their movie version) I knew love to be more like the betrayal and dust of the book’s Quasimodo. I could not get enough of Victor Hugo and his work. I read and reread them, excavating between the lines, believing somehow the works I was enthralled with were meant to be more than I found in the translations.  Perhaps it was the words themselves, so I vowed to read the words as Victor wrote them.

So five years later when I finally read them in their French original, my obsessive pursuit of their flavor was satisfied by an experience that was as transformative as I had expected, but not for the reasons I expected. I thought I would learn more of Hugo’s seminal meaning by learning his language, instead I experienced in much fewer syllables what Jacque Derrida was simultaneously verbosely describing in the academic world as "seeing through the metaphysics of presence".  I read what Hugo said, as he first said it and knew the words had beauty and worth and also knew for certain I could never really grasp what Hugo meant because I was not Hugo, that meaning and shared experience is more than words.

And with that insight I left my childhood and my brief brush with postmodernism behind before I had even heard of Hannah Arendt or Foucalt, let alone read them. 

There are a few words and a few lessons I regret in my life. I have never regretted learning French, nor have I ever regretted keeping silent.

 But today is an out loud day. Today is a Daptone soul singing day and I now want a record player for the same reason I once was driven to learn French. I want a record player because Victor Hugo transformed me not just by his words but because my desire to read his own words as he spoke them taught me that All things, all things, have their own language.

Hugo spoke French. The Daptones speak turntable. Enlightenment usually speaks with silence.

Parables, and koans, and yes, sometimes blogs are just attempts to translate a  transformational experience into everyday language. I am not at all who I was yesterday, and a stranger to myself a month ago and I cannot, cannot tell you how that is as I stumble over this new language.

I am not a virtual-life loving post modernist even now in my silver digital age but still (as in my minimalist and radical adolescence) a devotee of Hannah Arendt and so will dance a bit today and play and perhaps blog,

Then return again tonite behind my cloister walls to grow a bit I hope and to listen and delight in the quiet.

" Dedicate yourself to the good you deserve and desire for yourself. Give yourself peace of mind. You deserve to be happy. You deserve delight. " Hannah Arendt