Bibelots

a place for the curious

Podlike: ripe with allusions

Mixed emojions

banks of red lights

Lighting a fire under the allusion of words

I dearly love The Allusionist and picking just one great episode verges on the impossible. Helen Zaltzman’s podcast always fills me with joy and while I can’t rightly say this is my very favourite episode, months later it does still makes me laugh. I find I’m still quoting parts of it to other people (my dear, tolerant friends).

I’ll be honest, when I saw the word ’emoji’ in my feed I was tempted to skip it and let the emoji snobbery have its way. This episode delighted and entertained me, and has now utterly corrupted me. I have acute and incurable premature emojulation. I suspect Ms Zaltzman would be proud.

The Allusionist is frequently surprising, subversive and powerful. This episode was an early, shining example.

‘this is a subversive commentary on text, because the text is all about how women are just there to be seduced; they’re just body parts. So she’s saying, “They’re just body parts, are they? I’m going to pick them and put them in a pie.”’

Helen somehow waltzes us around, through and towards a truly serious underlying issue. While the episode is supposedly about emoji, there’s a whole lot more going on.

The episode’s under 17 minutes. Take some time out and sit a while under the penis tree of language, allusion and emoji.


 

Before too long

little girl stares out of a window

stories and words, she sees them everywhere

Okay, so it’s been a while. I don’t normally do blog-absence apology articles, so I won’t. I can’t. Because, damn it, I’m not sorry.

I’m sorry for the sorry state of the world. I’m sorry if you’ve been hanging on an article (but I can’t imagine you have). I’m sorry that this isn’t an eloquent moment to cure what ails us all. But sorry for not having been here? Most certainly not.

See, the thing is, I wrote a book.

It’s not my first foray into long form, but it’s the first time I’ve ever stood up and said, ‘this here? it’s a book’. Said it, felt it, meant.

As of right this second, what I now have is a complete unpublished manuscript. I’ve started pitching and all the hard slog that usually comes at this point. And I’m well into the next book. But, all of that aside, it’s done. My first book. Beginning, middle, end. First draft, second draft, final draft. Darlings killed, darlings slayed. Done.

So. Here I am, feeling exhausted and amazed. Ecstatic and somewhat bewildered. This writing thing is hard. Real hard. You don’t do it because of the potential thrill of getting published. You do it for love. Yes, you want to be heard. To have readers. To be read. What drives me though, what keeps me going, is the desire to tell the story. The love of writing. The love of words.

My writing journey continues. My joy for words is refueled and full of fire. It almost makes me feel guilty. Who knows. Before too long, transmissions might even return to some sort of normal.

The words will be spoken
I know all the action by heart
As the night-time follows day
I’m closing in
Every dog will have his day
Any dog can win

— from Paul Kelly’s “Before Too Long”

What memory is

the view from inside a cave looks out at the ocean

Seeing through

Memory is the touch of the wax on the seal of the envelope. It’s his name, her image, their smell.

Memory is weak, like water. It is strong, like waves.

Memory without touch fades. As scent, it invades.

Memory is a punch in the chest. It will unravel you. It can shore you up and restore you.

Memory is a soft and gentle breath, like oxygen.

It is nothing,  it has substance. It is everything. It is you.

What I recall is you.

The love of words

A firewoman in full gear


  A fiery woman: ‘brandweervrouw’
Image via Nationaal Archief

Funny, isn’t it.

People sometimes say that names don’t hold meaning. That they don’t define you. But they can. And in the age of the internet, usernames are an opportunity to add meaning to who you are. Yes, my name is Rosalie. It’s a name I was given. It’s nice. It’s got rhythm. It’s not too common. Often though, when people call me by it, I wonder who they’re talking about. Rose, I’ll go by sometimes. That’s nice and short. But it’s still pretty floral. Sometimes Rosa, if I’m so inclined. In reality, that’s just playing with form.

Ever since the internet came along, I’ve had usernames that aren’t my actual name. More often than not, they don’t disclose gender. Sometimes they deliberately play with age. Beyond that, there’s barely any thought put into them. I’ve had a tiger, an item of clothing, a waterbird and quite a selection of sentences. They all seemed nice at the time. The ones that lasted are the ones who attracted their own audience. On and off through time, an occasional username has stuck and held its own. I don’t entirely understand why. I do know what a gift it is. That it allows me to play with my sense of self.

I’m not sure that the playfulness comes only from the name out front. Sometimes the label can begin to define the person inside. But these names, they’re honestly about what lies underneath. The strong names. The hard names. The silly names. The lovely and the loving names; they’re all me. Or aspects of me.

In a time when privacy is being eroded and identity is claimed to be about trust, this is when I want most to protect these names. Not just for me, but for every single person that needs to breathe. That needs protection. That should be given a space to play, grow and live.

When I went with the username @theloveofwords some years ago, I was working hard to find a way to spend more time with words. I was playing with them, and writing more during the day and creating more at night. So, on a whim I went with my heart. A heart full of words. I wasn’t hiding who I am. After all, here it is, it’s me. But, as ever, it’s a version of me. It is not the whole of me, but it often becomes a very large part of who I am.

No. These names were never just a name. I would only be fooling myself. It was never nothing. Every time, it was about the little things that I love. This time, it was about the words. All of them, big and small.

I do spend more time walking among the wild, wild words now. It wasn’t an accident. I’ve worked hard. And this latest name has made it fun. It calls to me. The words too; they call to me. They define me. What this is, is love.

Yours

The love of words

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