Saturday, February 06, 2010

Elephants and Gazelles

I am not blogging 'properly', I'm sure. I have told my daughters that I am too text based. Who wants to read reams of text? I need to include images, but the only images of significance to me at this time are those in my head, or the ones I find in recent family photos and they feel a bit too much like my children's business and not mine alone, so I continue to settle for text.

Besides I've yet to learn the art of all this tagging and including photos and all the other wonderful things I see in other people’s blogs.

Another voice in my head says, forget it. You've too much to do already. Get on with your thesis, your serious writing. Blogging is like television watching. It's addictive.

We got rid of our television fifteen years ago and now I limit myself to watching the occasional DVD on the computer screen, as do we all in this household, of mainly grown up daughters, along with my husband and I, three cats and one dog. But blogging is more than that. It demands an active readership. It demands a response.

I had thought to tell others in the comment sections of their blogs, those that I read regularly that I am so concerned about the unspoken, unwritten rules that I am at times almost too shy to comment. I feel like an elephant who enters a graceful dinner party conducted by gazelles.

So many people write that they want comments and I am sure my comments are not hostile, at least I hope they do not read as hostile, but you never know. And then there’s always the question: what is real, and what’s not.

There’s a company here in Melbourne that for a price will take you or your loved ones for a day, treat you like a movie star, dress up your hair, pile on makeup and turn you into one. You bring along your best clothes from your wardrobe, a sample of day wear, casual and evening wear and the various photos taken will be pitched at creating a certain image of you.

Your best shots, your best foot forward, the you that lies beneath, or an exaggeration of you – a simulacrum. It seems we want to find what lies beneath; but we also want to cover up all the blemishes and see only perfection. We hide our secrets.

I ask myself another question now, this time from my childhood. How could I not have known certain words: bodily words, private words, like penis and vagina?

I knew that a thing called penis existed. I had seen it on Roman statues, fig leaf covered and imagined it from the sight of my baby brother in the bath. There was a photo in our family album. Someone had covered my baby brother’s penis with a slip of paper glued down on one side so you could lift it to look underneath. Written on the slip of paper in grey lead was a large question mark, no different from the question mark placed on a similar strip of paper across my mother’s stomach. The question mark stood alone alongside a row of photographs of each of us as children, one after the other in order of age, biggest to smallest, and in order of height. Photos construct certain versions of reality.

But how could I have not known these words? For my memory is that I did not. Could it be that even then I was selective about what it was that felt safe to know and what needed to be kept hidden?
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