Sunday, January 15, 2006

Oh, my totemistic life

I live with a preliterate. There are totems and meaningful arrangements of things all over the place. Sometimes I expect to find a little, feathered clump with a small hatchet next to it. Say, under the dining room table. We did this on purpose, of course. We have raised my 5.5 year old child on stories (mom and dad tell them - Simon now helps), and we have given him wierd-ass toys. Oh yes, and we haven't let the commercial nasties take up residence inside of his mind. We don't lock him up in the closet or anything. I just let him watch "dragon tales" the other day for the first time. It corresponds with a video game I got him for Christmas (darn it). He loves it and unfortunately knows the song already. He loves Jimmy Neutron and Toy Story. But his brain is not dominated by them. Today I went into the kitchen to see two children's chairs. One was upended on the other to provide a table. On the table was a little manniken next to a small paintbrush. On the table, next to them, was a wooden model of Apollo 11, on its side so that the door could open. Neatly arranged underneath it was a card ("magic 2" as it turns out. Who knew?). Neatly aligned with the spaceship were about 8 crayons, stacked so they looked like a pathway. Lord knows what the whole thing represented, although I will report that when the creator showed up, he began flying the manniken around on the paintbrush. Obvious, n'est pas? Yesterday, I heard "h'-aaaaaah!" repeated about 15 times coming from Simon's bedroom. I walked in to see Simon, holding one of his knights (we bought him knights in Paris - that started all sorts of things!). The knight yelled the battle cry and attacked the round glass orb that we gave Simon for Christmas. Why did we give our son a round glass orb? Well, it's cool, of course. It has bubbles in it and looks magical. At any rate, the knight was attacking the round orb and pushing it across the carpet. At the end of the carpet, the orb rolled onto the hardwood floor and the knight did a jubilant dance. Then they started over. We have played with as much "garbage" as we have new stuff. I have a hard time throwing away old toys because (I hate to admit this) but ... I have always *liked* those cars with the barbie dolls and toys glued all over them. They look like great fun! Perhaps when Simon's a bit older, we can buy a golf cart or something and give it a real "decorating job." In the meantime, I watch him and wish that we had a professional photographer living in the guest room for a few weeks. The arrangements that I find all over my house -- and their attendant totemistic powers and meaning -- are really, amazingly neat. I'll start taking photos, but in my mind's eye I see them up on the wall in an art gallery. If you think about it, and if you think about the more textural modern artists, what they seem to be able to do is to study and understand every aspect, every rule of art itself. Then, like Joyce, they throw away the rules and reach way down deep in themselves for an essence, a feeling. Perhaps it's what was going through their heads at 5, before they could read? The amazing connections to things, the magic attached to almost every item. The story? At any rate, I have seen arrangements like my son does, but they've been done by professionals. What a lovely thing to watch!


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