Posted tagged ‘language’

Why do some have a mission to piss on those who nurture and love them?

August 15, 2011

This post was first drafted on June 14, 2011. Seems I forgot to publish it. But it is waking up today because it is an essential part of the backstory to today’s story.

Today, on Aug 15, 2011 I opened my blog to record a life lesson that Dene Hager, a former student and new influence on my current burning question (in this sixtieth year of personal evolution):  What do I want to be when I grow up? (Dene has blessed me with one of my deepest felt-needs and I must must must language it here on Kitty’s Kitty Blog: Picturing Cats and Languaging Life  —  but I see that journal wants to wait a few days.

This old draft  is revealing not only in what it says about my state of being in June, but in what has happened since then. Namely, the revelations that are, to me, a JOURNEY OF A LIFETIME.

Our beloved orange cat Ralph has developed an inexplicable need to piss on the clothes, computer, cables, and desk of his beloved human, Kevin. But it is passive aggressive because when Ralph is around Kevin, he snuggles up as usual. Yet Kevin’s office carpet was so destroyed that after every possible salvage attempt was made, we had to give in and tear out the carpet and pad.

Why would anyone choose to hurt the ones who feed and support and spend money and labor on their behalf? It is a grief that this adored being in our home is pushing us as far as this. Two vet visits later, kitty prozac aside, and with broken hearts, I feel disconsolate.

But the bigger grief in my life right now is an analogous tragedy happening to humans whose lives will be forever damaged by incidents and decisions of that which can only be called injustice. Perpetrated by those who should have supported them.

What do you do when you have no control over a pissing contest that you can’t win?


Picturing life when languaging fails

February 3, 2008


 In my English 301 class, I’ve been teaching about blogging as a social action, and we read a cool piece of scholarship that theorizes why bloggers blog. What do they get out of it? How is the whacked-out genre of personal diary expressed to the world functioning in the lives of the millions of people who read and write weblogs? The scholars talk about what blogs do: they use new technology and the urgency of the cultural moment to work on an age-old human need. They say blogs make space for the dual project of self-expression and participation in community. So blogs attend to the age of project of defining the self. That makes sense to me.

I’ve been using pictures of my cats to language my life. And sometimes words fail. As I said below.

Emma’s blog says it for me.

Surviving grief

January 23, 2008

I wrote yesterday that images (or crying) work better than words to express grief. During the aftermath of learning of the death, it was interesting to see how pictures helped (well, “help” is not accurate–“spend the time” is closer to it).

I found myself organizing and refining images of the cats, knowing that my blog was themed around the cats. “Picturing cats and languaging life” is the subtitle of my blog. Why do pictures, sounds, or hugs work more than words?


Dealing with death

January 21, 2008

A young and vibrant member of our family died on Saturday. Those words feel like lies, and it cannot be true that Bjorn Nielsen is not alive. I cannot understand, and writing about it does not help.

Writing seems to be a cathartic, but at the moment, only screaming or crying feel real. Which points to the fact that words alone are woefully inadequate to express one’s life. I say that we “language” in order to do life. And while that is partially true, the part for which it is untrue is a huge gap in communication. Images, maybe, might also be better than words. Here’s one, for instance, that a friend of BJ’s cross-stitched (how delicious that a man cross-stitched a motto for another man). Hmmmm…on the other hand, it DOES use language to express itself. Ah-ha! And there we see the wonderful value of “taboo” words to say what normative and conventional words cannot.


I wrote a scholarly paper once, arguing that the language level of the word “fuck” had changed from obsenity to slang.


Love it and hate it

January 10, 2008

Okay, if you are a cat fancier, you know about icanhascheezburger. Love it. Hate it. Do I read the images and enjoy? Or read the words and get ticked?

The pictures are, of course, dazzling. The words are IM speak. To me, it’s a classic demonstration of discourse. Language is a sign system shared by members of a community who understand not only the meaning of the words, but how to use them in nuanced ways. Language has identity, culture, and belief systems invisibly embedded in it. I don’t understand IM dialect, I’m not in that community. So when I have to read it, I feel frustrated (can’t understand the meaning),  left out (communities privilege insiders and exclude outsiders–and nothing shows who’s in and who’s out as much as language use), and ticked–“Why don’t those people just talk right?” (anger is, of course, a common reaction to being excluded).

Language is about power!