A Solitude of SolitudesTuesday, June 12, 2012
|English Rose Rosa 'Abraham Darby'|
Having lived within Filipino communities in Argentina, Mexico and Vancouver I know of the problems involved in this singular/plural thing. Filipinos of a certain age, and particularly those of the patrician kind, speak a beautiful archaic Spanish, Tagalog and an English that is on its way to become a language all of its own. Young Filipinos who do not understand Spanish but speak fluent Tagalog or perhaps Visayo and even Pampango, share with the patricians the Filipino penchant for a delightful mangling of the English language. My favourite is, “Alex you have nice furnitures in your house.” Because in Spanish furniture is usually translated into a plural Spanish form, muebles, these Filipinos back track us with furnitures. It may sound funny to some but is makes sense to me. What makes less sense is that my 14 year-old granddaughter, when aged 4, named one of her stuffed animals Furniture. Obviously the Filipino connection that came to us via my Manila-born mother, Filomena, has dissipated and left no trace.
This brings me to the heart of today’s blog which is the obvious difference (to me at least if I stubbornly stick to my humpties) between solitude and solitudes.
My first awareness of its existence (solitude, that is) came sometime in the middle of a frigid and damp Buenos Aires winter in 1966 when my girlfriend Susana called me to tell me to never see or talk to her again. I fell into a lapse of extreme melancholy which I exacerbated with repeated listening of Miles Davis’s Sketches of Spain with a persistence insistence in a cut called Solea. It is only of late that I have noted the only flaw in that perfect recipe for instant melancholy. That is, that solea is missing an accent. The proper Andaluzan word is soleá which probably (my guess) is a garbling of letters from the beautiful word for solitude in Spanish soledad.
My Spanish Wikipedia defines a soleá:
La soleá es una combinación métrica propia de la lírica popular andaluza, compuesta por tres versos de arte menor octosílabos con asonancia en el primer y el tercer verso y sin rima de ninguna especie el segundo (8a, 8-, 8a). Se la conoce también con el nombre de "terceto gallego" o "terceto celta". Entendida como composición poética, suele versar sobre el tema de la soledad y el desengaño.
I will not attempt to translate that but will place here the more compact and efficient definition from my on-line Spanish dictionary the RAE (Real Academia Española) which states that:
4. f. Tonada andaluza de carácter melancólico, en compás de tres por ocho.
Or an Andaluzan tune of melancholic character in a three by eight time signature.
Repeated listening of Miles Davis in Solea (composed and arranged for an orchestra directed by Gil Evens) seemed to make my melancholy dip into a state that only now I can identify and define as an example of solitudes. The exquisite pleasure of something so beautiful, that I could not possibly share with anybody, made that melancholy sweeter in the pain that I felt.
All this came to me today when I cut a very large bloom of the very English Rose Rosa ‘Abraham Darby’. Its scent is a fruity distillation that I cannot describe except that its complexity somehow lingers from year to year in my memory and I am able to anticipate it as I bring the rose to my nose. It was at this point that I was overcome with a terrible sense of being alone because I could not share the moment. My wife rarely reacts to scent and my eldest granddaughter has yet to call me (they will soon be in irreversible decline) to help her prune and fertilize her own roses. It would seem she has lost interest. If the roses do die (and what a tragedy this would be) it might serve as a lesson. Perhaps not.
|Lauren Elizabeth Stewart age 9|
Here is a list (most incomplete) of my solitudes:
1. I am reading Andrea Camilleri’s The Potter’s Field.
2. I just finished Arturo Perez-Reverte’s latest Capitán Alatriste El Puente de los Asesinos.
3. I watched Les Girls and Confession on TCM.
4. My hostas have grown many inches per night and are pristine. It was about now that my friend (he passed away a couple of years ago) Donald Hodgson would call and ask, “How are your hostas? Isn’t it incredible how fresh and perfect they look at the end of May and early June? There is no better time in the garden.”
5. The once blooming Gallica Roses are about to bloom. Every day I can spot and almost opening here and there. What is Cardinal Richelieu going to do this year? Will he be as deep purple as last year?
6. Rosemary’s cat, Casi-Casi is impervious to everything. He is our living walking Sphinx. Will anybody listen to me with interest?
7. Plata, my female cat, hops on the tub and demands I cup some water (before I use soap or shampoo) and to put it on the tub’s lip. She drinks this. It keeps her coat smooth with no trace of the kidney problem she must have at her age, 16.
8. I take a photograph; one I think is one of the best I have ever taken (the one here of Lauren), just a few days ago. I know it is good because I have seen enough photographs to ascertain that. And yet I know that if I post it in that social media network someone might click on an “I like”or, if adventurous, that someone might type out “nice pic”.
9. In last Sunday’s NY Times Sunday Review in Thomas L. Friedman’s column Facebook Meets Brick-and-Mortar Politics I read:
To be sure Facebook, Twitter and blogging are truly revolutionary tools of communication and expression that have brought so many new and compelling voices to light. At their best, they’re changing the nature of political communication and news. But, at their worst, they can become addictive substitutes for real action. How often have you heard lately: “Oh, I tweeted about that.” Or, “I posted that on my Facebook page.” Really? In most cases, that is about as impactful as firing a mortar into the Milky Way galaxy. Unless you get out of Facebook into someone’s face, you really have not acted [Friedman’s italics]. And as Syria’s vicious regime is also reminding us: “bang-bang” beats “tweet-tweet” every day of the week.
Brilliant turns of phrase, lovely scents, wonderful books. They are all solitudes.
Miles Davis's Solea