Chapter 19: Trust
There are degrees of trust. I’ve learnt to trust my own instincts and take criticism for what it is: someone’s want to remould me to fit within their own device.
1. Opposing definition
When I browse a bookstore, I don’t go near the self-help section. All their covers are so ugh: big title trying to tell me who I am, no enchantment. I want stuff I can dream about. So, I’ll look at kookville instead, where all the pretty sparkly swirling gradients of colours and shining light are. I do tend to judge a book by its cover. But never people from the way they dress, only from their attitude. That way if they were standing naked before me, I could still say what their cover is.
One of my deeply favourite sections is where all the dics are. I can’t help but wander there every time I visit, just to see what new kind of idea has come out to explain words. The need for pretty covers doesn’t matter to me here. But all the same, they’re better looking to me than the self-help section. Ah big ones small ones, to sit on my lap and have a long hard look at.
These are the real spell books. They have the answers, the protection I need. I can find things in them to deflect, to open up and unblock, as well as inspiring swirls of possibilities. They are intensely thought about, calculated histories of human language. But they are also raw material for which I can weave my own essence of sense and nuance. I’m wanting a twelve volume rhyming dic so I can look up words merely by their sound. Makes so much more sense to me than the short alliteration of the first letter and the tune “ABC”. The really retarded thing is I still find myself sometimes reciting the old rhyme in my head to remember where the letters go. But, hey, the rhyming dics are small so what-have-you, I have to get my information elsewhere.
Slang dics are also of great interest to me. I bought a nice large size one and was walking down the street and met a friend. Rick’s a street artist. He and I have a fondness for the tattoos upon the city’s grey skin.
I ask what he’s up to and he says he’s going to buy some milk. So, thinking about meanings in dictionaries I ask, “What do you mean by that?”
He looks paranoid for a second, “No, it’s not drugs. Just plain milk, you know, for my coffee.”
So, then I tell him that I’ve bought a new dic and pull it out of my bag. I hand it to him and he rifles through the pages, first checking to see if dictionaries are actually called dicks. Then he starts calling out odd words to passers-by like, “Trinkym-trankum”, “Nokes” and “Gloak.”
I’m still puzzling over what milk can mean, so I ask if he can look it up and he lowers his voice and shakes his head, “I’m not going to find milk in your dick!”
I walk home consumed with the possible meanings of milk. And as soon as I get in the door, I have to look it up. Yep. Okay. Oh yeah forgot that that can come out of dicks. Hmm. Not something you’d want to put in your coffee.
I first really learnt how to read dictionaries for pleasure when I lived with Cocky. He wanted to become a games tester for Playstation. That made it difficult for me to concentrate on a book that required a narrative flow, when every few seconds I’d hear in between electronic riffs, “You win,” or “Good one,” or the sound of zombies moaning and eating people’s brains out (which completely disturbed me after my nana died of Alzheimer’s).
Cocky was so serious about his career he even played golf on the machine. I learnt that all kinds of birdies, like an eagle or an albatross, were to do with how far in the right direction you hit the ball with a press of a few buttons. I also learnt drawing and fading was essential. Hmm. “Nice shot.” There was a myriad of games where he hit things, or shot at them or drove as fast as he could around a track trying not to hit things. Then there were porn games where he pressed buttons all night and proudly told me the next morning, “I brought all those women to orgasm.”
He asked me to try, but I was no good, the women on the screen just told me to rack off. Which was fine with me, because then I could get back to my dic. I had a concise Collins1988 I’d bought second-hand at uni. I sat with it on my lap and gazed at its pages and pages. And the dic took me on journeys that were easy to follow because I was going with impulses directed by my sense of intrigue. Sometimes I’d just open up a page to be surprised. Other times it was a long interwoven back and forth flip searching for sense in the chaos of language and sound. With the Collins1988 I dared to mark and write in the pages, even cross out secondary meanings I didn’t want to associate with a word I identified with.
Psychiatrists were giving me derogatory labels, somewhat like kids had in school. I found I had to cross out the entire definition of schizophrenia and write: many voices. A neighbouring word schizocarp interested me more. I have an appetite for fruits and I’d never eaten a schizocarp and I still haven’t. And while staring at this page of sound associations I may’ve gleaned, from schizophyte and schizogenesis, that like protozoans and plants perhaps I was asexual.
On my travels through the pages of this dic I came across words like sex-typed. Collins1988 told me, “Characterised as appropriate for, or of one or more sex rather than the other.”
And I linked this straight-away to acting and cast-typing. Then penned, “Weird. Who appropriates this?”
And I’m still wondering about this. And why a word like poly-gendered is not in my concise Oxford2006. As far as this dic is concerned there are only two sexes, for it defines hermaphrodite as, “Having both male and female sex organs; a person or thing combining opposite qualities and characteristics.”
Therefore according to Oxford2006, male and females are things apposed that can connect sockets and combine their “qualities” and “characteristics”.
So I ask, “What are the qualities of male, as apposed to female?” as I pick up on this trail…
Oxford2006 says a male is, “The sex that can beget offspring by fertilisation or insemination; containing only fertilising organs; designed to enter or fill the corresponding female part (a male screw).” Associated words are, “Male menopause: crisis of potency, confidence etc; male chauvinist, male fern…” with the word, “malediction,” following.
I connect these things and draw up plots and conspiracies. Then move on to the counterpart… female.
“A sex that can bear off-spring and produce eggs; manufactured hollow to receive a corresponding inserted part.”
Oo! Don’t want that.
The dic includes here, “Female condom, female impersonator”, with the word “feminal” following, then “femininity”.
I’m starting to get a realisation, “Ah, so if being male is all about potency and confidence, what is femininity?”
“Characteristics of a woman,” says Ox.
“But what is a woman?”
“An adult human female.”
“Um, we are starting to go in circles.” (Not so in earlier dics, like Collins1988 and my Nana’s Websters1954, which had women pinned as opposite to confident and potent.)
But there’s more to being a woman, says Oxford2006, “Wife or female sexual partner.”
“Na, not me.”
“Emotions or characteristics associated with women, or a man associated with these characteristics.”
“Ah, so then I don’t even have to have a female socket link to be a woman! And what kinds of associations are there with woman?”
“Domestic help, prostitute, rituals and knowledge open only to women, a place open only to women, and a supporter of women’s liberation from inequalities and subservient status in relation to men.”
Ox reasons that they need temporary refuge from domestic violence. They need rights that promote a position of legal and social equality and there needs to be studies made of their role in society from a feminist perspective. Still, Ox hedges as to the definition of womanhood (it’s as though the dic is afraid to say what it wants to say, and defines simply, “the qualities and characteristics of women”.)
“But given that they’re subject to being womanised and it is derogatory for a man to be womanish, I’m feeling a bit alienated,” I say. That is until we get to womb.
“The organ of conception and gestation in a woman,” Oxford2006 says.
Ah, so that’s what a woman might be about, conception and gestation? I’m beginning format a notion of what might develop into a concept worth burrowing into like a wombat, (which of course is the next word.)
This is how I play with dics. They lead me on little journeys as the current defines, or should I choose a historical dic, then a latent conceptual idea of social definition and role-play.
So what do I want to know now? Ah yes, the word menopause.
Ox puts it simply, “The ceasing of menstruation,” which is, “the process of discharging blood and other materials from the uterus in sexually mature non-pregnant women at intervals of about one lunar month until menopause.”
I say, “I have theories that my irregular periods are linked to the periodic table, but I’m still working on proving it. So, each month has its element. But anyway side-tracking, I tend to do that…”
The word that is a characteristic here, which gets my attention is discharge. This has associations of freedom and release. Then for reasons of tangents my eyes flick down to see first mental and its hyphenated associations, then mentalism.
And I’m thinking ah, yes, I forgot to look up man.
Whoa, this one is big, a whole column, but first up, Oxford2006 says, “A human adult male. Then also human beings in general.”
“Yes, yes, that old brouhaha.”
“A person showing characteristics of males.”
“Ah not derogatory like the characteristics of a woman is defined to be…”
“A worker, an employee.”
“I’m only a bit into this and I’m seriously wondering how any man can feel confused about his identity and have a male menopause. It’s all nice and positive. A man is suitable and appropriate, fulfilling requirements, a husband, a boyfriend or lover. It’s all about being in unison, courageous and not showing fear, being free to act, independent, in full possession of faculties! So, what’s the problem?”
Ox says it’s, “To liberate and free them from their traditional views of character and roles in society.”
“Because who wants to be endowed with being virile and competent?” I say, “Yeah, too much pressure!”
The word following man is mana, which Ox tells me means, “Authority, prestige and supernatural or magical power”. Perhaps people can use this to free men from the manacle that follows and manage to allow them to become brightly coloured manakin birds in the indefinite future.
Ah the adventure stories of the dic! To my mind I’m operating on two main linking levels. There’s the sound-sense alliteration links and then there’s the meaning, or symbol links. The meaning links have direct association to the visual part of my mind. Then there’s another way, when my eye dances about the page, just picking out what it wishes. This dance is a muscle reflex brought on by need and association. It has a lot to do with trajectories and the environment around me, as well as my own eco-system. It adds that little bit of mystery, should I want explore without knowing what it is I want to know. Call it mental or mana, that’s your perception to define.