Sunday, 4 November 2012

Sweet and Lowdown

Sweet and Lowdown is a Woody Allen (one of my step-son's favourite film-makers, such a smart kid) boipic of one of the jazz guitar greats, Emmet Ray. Personally, I had never heard of Emmet Ray until last night when I watched the movie with my aippakuluk, but I was blown away by his music. I was also intrigued by Sean Penn's portrayal of Ray, who was a socially awkward, extremely talented, hopelessly honest, guileless artiste with a slight hint of kleptomania and a strong but awkward imperative to compensate. He was completely self-absorbed (but not malicious): he took his dates and friends out to the local dump to shoot rats, or to watch trains - which were his idea of a 'good time'.

In many ways, I immediately identified with Emmet Ray. Not so much the outward person but the personality type. Like Ray, I tend not to relate to people at the personal level and have a hard time appreciating the social rituals of relating at the emotional level, telling personal stories because I know these are particular, dynamic aspects of our personhood. Besides people can be cruel and stereo-type other people using these things. I take comfort at the spiritual level, in partaking in structured stories (movies, music, books, etc.).

There is also an obsessiveness, the need to systemize human experience. My particular thing is I love mathematical structures: of numbers, of music, of language, of philosophical and scientific principles. The human story is ultimately judged (not in a judgemental fashion) by how much or how little it deviates from principles (in far as the limits of these principles are tested and proven). I'm obsessive about politics for two reasons: I love the notions of social justice and personal dignity; I seek order and reason for the political process. I'm not at all impressed by power, fame or money. I'm impressed by how these means are used to noble ends. I get taken up by stories and the narrative this way.

My children also have this trait: my oldest watches all her tv and movies with the subtitles on (the better to read dialogues and partake in the plots, it's a literate thing for her); my son is a great gamer and figures things out not by the written rules but by doing and trying out all possibilities; my youngest and I used to talk ad naseum about the stories she heard and movies she saw. Though I haven't seen nor heard from my youngest in years, I have every faith that she will never lose her spirit.

Already by the age of three and four she was a talented artist. I mean 'artist' in the real sense. I still have her water colour which she entitled "flowers and butterflies" (in my biased opinion it is gorgeous), and her multi-media mural which she called "Snow White and the wicked witch". It is a dynamic retelling of the classic beginning from the bottom right corner with meeting of Snow White and the seven dwarves and culminating with the death of the evil stepmother (a black blob) on the left top corner (she dies on a mountain struck by lightening). In presenting it to me she told me the whole story using the blobs and spots on the mural, and it touched me deeply. She will always be Franklin to my Bear.

My life with my aippakuluk is likewise my humanization story. I love her deeply. Our life together is not perfect - who ever had a perfect life? - but there is something organic, lyrical, real and beautiful about our love. Having gone through both good and bad, I know in my heart I need her spiritually, physically, psychologically, personally. The lichen on the rock - that's how I see our love, our lives together. She brings out the poet in me. Love has no rhyme or reason: it just is. And I've found it in her.


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