I write to find out what I am thinking.
I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed.
I take photographs to see how I see.
Above are two quotes and another that keep me going these dark days I am living in grief at my Rosemary’s death on December 9, 2020.
I write every day while thinking about Rosemary and somehow I feel a small amount of solace and a purpose for my continuous existence. Since I took statistics in university I understand that time is short.
Because I like to photograph people, my opportunity to take photographs to see how I see people, has been curtailed. I will not go out and shoot sunsets or night time city scapes. If I were in Mexico I would go to Mexican cemeteries. Here in Vancouver nothing really appeals to me except for the people. I have no desire to document (a terrible word) telephone poles.
I have time in my hands (a curious impossibility) so I go back and forth between my Spanish and English looking for differences and in some cases impossible equivalents in one language compared to the other. Such is the case for oblivion (the title of a wonderful Ástor Pizzolla composition). There is no equivalent and the closest is “olvido” which translates to forgotten.
Only today I noticed a word between quotes on the on-line Argentine newspaper, El Clarín. It was about the rising automobile accidents caused by “pisacolas”. It directly translates as stepping on your butt. It seems a crafty Argentine editor finally found a translation for tailgating.
All the above brings me to a fourth quote which obviously someone must have come up with. My version is:
Language and its grammar is what directs us how to think.
There is the Mexican joke of the general asking a soldier how many of the enemy he has seen above the trenches. The soldier answers “Como mil y uno.” This is equivalent to “about a thousand and one more”.
I have pondered for years how the subjunctive mood affects the people where it is an important part of their language. In English one of the last remnants of the subjunctive is “I wish I were in Dixie” which is most often “corrected” to “I wish I was in Dixie.” The subjunctive is important in the romance languages of Spanish, French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. I propose that the uncertainty of the subjunctive makes the countries where this language is spoken (with a slight, very small exception of the French who ultimately suffered their Dien Bien Phu) to be not too savvy in military campaigns. In war you have to consider certainties.
It is for this that I am aware that how I think is dictated by the underlying influence of my language and its grammar. To speak both English and Spanish puts me in a confusing state of affairs.
The most complicated feature of Spanish for people who speak a different language and especially English is the convoluted problem with to be and the double equivalent in Spanish of ser and estar. Ser is about being. This is that. I am a man, etc. Estar is about location. Estoy aquí is I am here. There is confusion when in Spanish we say, “Soy un enfermo,”or “I am a sick man,” and “Estoy enfermo,” “I am sick.”
So in my constant night-time process when I turn off the lights, I am instantly aware of what I call the vacant (is empty a betterword?) presence of my Rosemary. I notice her because she is not there.
If I think, “No es,” that means "she is not,” as in not existing or being alive. If I think “No está,” that translates to “she is not here”.
This makes me shift completely to another philosophic term about a pizza without anchovies (I don’t like them). I believe that to ask for a pizza without anchovies is better said, “a pizza not with anchovies.”
Why? I am not with Rosemary at night, seems more elegant but crucially more saddening.