|Rosemary & Niña December5 2020
Living suddenly alone during a raging pandemic brings me long nights where I lie awake. I ponder stuff that I would have never considered when my Rosemary was around and when both of us had jobs. There were obligations to fulfill and schedules to meet. When we retired, just knowing she was next to me on the bed, was enough to cure any rampaging insomnia.
With that gone, last night I combined a few ideas, going in many directions.
It occurred to me that if language is what allows us to think and, that without language we would not be able to think, then when God instructed Adam to name the animals, that would have been the moment in which language was born. Adam may have named the tiger and then seeing a cat and naming the cat, a cat, he would have used some primitive thought process that would have helped him compare and contrast the appearance of one as opposed to the other.
Because Adam was a pre-Narcissus gentleman, and mirrors had yet to be invented, he had no method to name what he was or see who he was. So God gave him a partner, and only then were Adam and Eve able to compare notes. Later, apples and fig leaves where then identified.
My mentor and friend, Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C. was a pragmatic
religious man who in 1959 told us that the Catholic Church and Darwin were not
in any kind of conflict. He told us that at any point God intervened and gave a
couple of simians the ability to think. An image similar to the one in the biginning of 2002: A Space Odyssey.
Much of that I found later in a 1965 reading of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s The Phenomenon of Man.
It was Eric Fromm, who in his 1956 The Art of Loving, pointed out that when Adam and Eve ate the prohibited fruit, because they wanted to be like God, that, marked when humanity was able to reason.
In these late night musings I like to compare words from Spanish with their counterparts in English. I think that in speaking more than one language, if one is to believe that thought results from language (or is it the other way?), I may be at an advantage. And I wonder about the ability that polyglots have for thought. Would Albert Einstein have added to his German and English the language of mathematics?
In the last few months, as I remember my 52 years of life with Rosemary, I know that Jorge Luís Borges said that to remember one must forget. He also wrote that when you remember an event in your life you do not remember the event when it happened but the previous to the last time you remembered it. It seems convoluted.
But it all brings to mind that in 1965 I went to Pigmalion Books on Calle Corrientes in Buenos Aires and I purchased (besides that Phenomenon of Man) The Philosophy of Hegel by Carl J. Friederick. I forced myself to read it during a week-long arrest and nights in an Argentine Navy brig.
The book and previous exposure to Hegel in 1962 at the University of the Americans in the philosophy classes of Ramón Xirau prepared me to the idea of having a thought, going to the opposite of it and then getting the opposing thoughts together in a Hegelian synthesis. It seems that life is a long thesis/antithesis/synthesis progression.
So back I go to the word memory and its connection to remember. In Spanish the link is more direct. Acordar, to remember in Spanish has the synonym rememoriar. The latter term is much more romantic and it is a favourite of Borges. It involves going back and forth within that memory. To record a song or voice in Spanish is not to recordar (remember) but to grabar. A grabado is not only a recording but an etching, too.
Acuerdo, or agreement is not connected to recordar or to remember but I like the connection anyway.
In Spanish you can have both recuerdos or memorias. They both mean memory. But recuerdo is more intimate. “Recuerdo cuando me casé con Rosemary,” (I remember when I married Rosemary.) is far more intimate (because the word is a single word that can stand alone?) than “Me acuerdo cuando me casé con Rosemary.”
Perhaps the verb recordar involves a back and forth Hegelian exercise in determining when the memory remembered is the more-or-less accurate one.
So it was yesterday, September 28, 2021 when walking with Niño, that I stared at him and the concept “living memory” came to me.
If I look at a portrait that I may have taken of Rosemary it gives me memories. But when I look at my two daughters, two granddaughter and two cats, they are living links (living memories) of Rosemary. Between the cats and my daughters are Rosemary’s plants in our garden. She planted them, she touched them, and she fussed over them. I could see her sit on the deck (she was very flexible). Are these plants also a living memory? I see my cats are being almost human. What of Rosemary’s plants?
When my mother inhaled her last breath in 1972, I was there with Rosemary. Rosemary until December 9, 2020 was a living memory (a link) to my mother. My eldest daughter Alexandra who is 52 has vague memories of my mother. But a majority of the people that my mother knew are all dead. I am a walking, living memory to her.
My friend Curtis Daily (Rosemary adored him) who visited us and stayed with us when he came to Vancouver to play his bass with Early Music Vancouver is another living memory. But it goes further. Curtis and I are planning to fly to Buenos Aires (when we can) and we will present an Argentine musical/dance program to my wealthy relatives. There will be a tango couple (this one) and a pair of musicians who play the harmonica and the guitar, and Curtis will play on a piano Ginastera’s La Danza de la Moza Donosa. He has already spent 200 hours practicing it. Today he told me that his favourite version is Martha Argerich’s live performance some many years ago. She is in her 80s now. But, and for me this is important, she studied physics under my mother in the American School in the Buenos Aires neighbourhood of Belgrano R in the early 50s.
So Martha Argerich, whom I never met and is alive right now, is another living memory.
All kinds of people are constantly telling me that I have the refuge now of the memories I lived with Rosemary. I wonder if they know about living memory?