A List

by Yule Heibel on September 16, 2003

A list of curiosities and texts and events that I will fail to write about at this time: for example, Monster/Beauty by Joanna Frueh, perhaps in relation to this Women on the Edge story. Or how about this review of Marina Warner’s Fantastic Metamorphoses, Other Worlds: Ways of Telling the Self (remember No Go the Bogeyman?), in relation to what’s all over the French and German press: Madonna’s flogging the children’s book she published yesterday. (Le Monde quotes the vedette thus: “J’aime les petits enfants plus que les grands. Il n’ont pas encore de mauvaises habitudes ou au moins elles ne sont pas d


Joel September 17, 2003 at 4:34 am

Regarding children: I prefer the little ones myself, especially when they are fascinated by the whole world around them — when a butterfly is actually a new experience, when bird song is sung expressly for them. I love them when they weigh out matters like “can a rhino blow his horn and if no, why not?”

Teenagers are just too adult for me. They think they know a lot. And they stop asking questions — any kind of interesting question, as far as I am concerned. Just like their teachers and their parents.

Giuse September 17, 2003 at 2:06 pm

Little kids are sweet, for sure. Its in their biology: big eyes, high forehead, snuggy round forms, receptive, strong reflex to smiles and hugs… its easy to catch up with them.

I think it’s kind of sick, to prefer one age to the other, meaning, it’s about oneself being quite superficial or far from daily contact reality, where the kids have a history by themselves.

.. I use to exagerate.

Yule Heibel September 17, 2003 at 4:30 pm

Who said anything about teenagers, or about children of any specific age for that matter? I’m talking about the adults, about the parents in particular, and about the mothers specifically (Madonna’s a mom, remember?). When I walked around Harvard Square with my baby in the spring of 1991, I could tell from the looks this beautiful child and I got that I had just acquired what the approving yuppies (still childless, but it was the early 90s, the decade of “have-it-all”) considered the perfect accessory. I could have lost myself in that wonderful feeling of successful accessorization-slash-completion: the gazes of others were unmistakeable. They told me that the symbolic phallus can be acquired, if not at the mall in the shape of the perfect handbag, then in the shape of a baby. That’s what’s scary. A kid is not an accessory, another item you acquired, and it’s not your narcissistic completion kit. It’s a human being, at every age. Many mothers prefer babies and toddlers because it’s easier to keep them at the level of accessory. When they get older, it gets more difficult to refunctionalize them in that way. Teenagers are perhaps dickheadish because they’re in revolt against a decade or more of being refunctionalized into accessories by their parents, and talked at by their teachers. (I like many teenagers and find them very interesting. They have lots of questions, if you ask them. And I fully agree with John Taylor Gatto that one of the problems of our education system is that the kids don’t get enough practice speaking because the teacher monopolizes the discussion. And they’re not going to do much talking at home, because they resent their parents, who don’t have any time for them anyway. No wonder some of them stop asking questions: their lives are FUBAR.)

Joel September 18, 2003 at 2:46 am

Hmmmm. Interesting theory and perhaps worthy of applying as a law of social behavior.

Joel September 18, 2003 at 2:51 am

Sick to have a preference, Giuse? Why? It’s not like saying that they should not exist. It’s just declaring a personal thing.

It’s not the eyes that get me, but the minds — the imagination. Yule has a point: teenagers have been living under authoritarian school rules for more than a decade. It’s like expecting a lot from domestic sheep (where the wild ones are quite lively). You can’t really blame it on them.

I spent the early part of this evening with several adults (the youngest was 21) trying to get them to write in detail, to not just say “the room had furniture in it” but to tell us that it had four roughhewn chairs, a metal cot, a bidet, and a bird cage. Four and five year olds will give you the list. The rest of us have been brainwashed into shortcuts.

Giuse September 18, 2003 at 12:09 pm

I mentioned, love to exagerate..

Maybe it is not sick to have a preference, but to manifest it.. I think, it is the kid before it got ‘stamped’ by society, that we talk about. As I understood your comment, their minds are surprising, expressive, free from inscrutable afterthoughts (iconografy of ingenuity).

To this I make two notes. To prefere an iridescent appearence of temporal limit to social commitment is natural. Nature has planned it that way. Kids have to survive and in this age, they have to be loved, to do so. To make a preferance out of it (and not taking it, as life throws it in) seems innatural to me. From advertising we are trained to make links.. if you are a baby, you are lovable. Ingenuity gets a brand, a trade mark, that you can get by having, making or overcompensating.. to accelerate spontaneous sympathy.

I understood, that it is different for you, who loves kids as inspiration.. and I’m not sure, if you really do prefer, or if you do so pronouncedly, because of your subjective circumstances.

To talk is the first thing, we can do, to realize. Shortcuts, remembers me of twins’ secret language.

Sorry Yule, I’ll have to introduce myself and send you a mail.

Yule Heibel September 18, 2003 at 4:30 pm

Thanks for the email, Giuse, keep visiting & commenting, please.

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