I feel like I’m in some sort of a limbo. I don’t know which version of me to commit to. This is ironic since I want my significant other to commit to me, and I feel acutely hurt when they betray me. Even the thought of it hurts. I know that those two, the fact that I can’t commit to one version of myself and the fact that I want others to commit to me, is closely related. I rely on others to define myself. I need constant approval to be some version of me.
Elizabeth Bachner’s blog post on Longreads “Gravity” describes a process of becoming a mother, in a peculiar, and yet not all that common, situation where two men have an equal chance of being the child’s father. Because of the “commitment issue” I described above, I had no doubt that I would hate the article. Dr. Kenichiro Mogi’s criterion for the good literature is whether it hurts you in a beautiful way or not. Maybe that was what I wanted.
Two things in the post left a lasting impression. One was the fact that she “loves both men painfully”. It was a strange feeling. In some part of me was occupied by a strong disapproval. I didn’t and still don’t want that feeling to exist in anyone. That primal feeling that comes from deep inside, I don’t know if it is coming from, whether it is my testaustrome, estrogen, youth, or inexperience, but that feeling I described above, that I want to be the one for someone, is uncomfortably strong. I know that I’m projecting and I’m immature in a way to have an desire, not about the exclusivity, but the desire to have my feeling replicated. Maybe for some people, this is where homophobia comes from. But at the same time, her brutally candid tone made it hard not to swallow and appreciate.
But the thing that made a biggest impression was the opening paragraph. Her description of reading poems for her baby in her womb was beautiful.
“If you hear Paul Celan poems before you have language, maybe you store them in your unconscious, and someday they come out somehow, in a twisting thought that seems to come from nowhere, ten years or twenty years or fifty years later, in a feeling that overwhelms you but you can never describe, even though you have language now, even if you can speak and read in many languages, even when you have decades of practice using your tongue.”
The connection that a mother and her baby make, something that is beyond the reach of human language, and yet something unseparable from human experience, is portrayed here.
I’m now working on my dissertation, and I have little time for literature. It was as if I used the mustle for the first time in months. I haven’t used that part of my brain (heart or soul, if you prefer) for a long while. It was good to find that it is still functioning.
I liked the article. It felt like the prose was coming from the place where the good literature should come from.