Monday, November 2, 2009

Possession: A Romance

by A. S. Byatt

I have been reading it for English 380: Modern British and International Literature and to quote a classmates "It's an English Majors dream!". Which it is in a way though I find myself convinced that I would be swept away by the language and the story more fully were I sprawled on a couch in front of a fireplace somewhere in England with a storm raging outside.

Anyway-Possession. Knowledge is possession. As one comes to understand something, and truly understand something down to the minute details a sense of ownership develops. I have written countless papers, poems, and incoherent scrawlings throughout my life. And through this process of writing I have developed what some refer to as "their babies". It's the literary analysis paper that thrilled your mind or the poem that seems to be your pulse, the poem you spent hours mulling over what word to choose, how to space the lines, what to title it because the feeling behind that poem was so purely you. It was knowledge. An excitement and understand of scholarly topics and then a deeper, self reflective knowledge.

The word possession usually brings to mind objects, things that one claims. And reflecting on my life the things that I have claimed seriously, and not simply as a "My money bought that' are the things that I know, the things that have been apart of my life, that hold meaning. That if they could talk they could tell my story better than I ever could. I don't claim much. I wouldn't be upset to lose many things- Even now I struggle to come up with something that I would cry over were I to have it ripped away from me. Maybe Sniffy-yes, my stuffed dog. And not in a childish-baby-like-way but because Sniffy is mine. I woke up in the most physical pain I have even been in in my life only to have him slipped into my arms where he stayed for days. And then, when days would get hard he would find his way back there, his fur absorbing tears. He has been there with his ears being played with, his softness slowly soothing everything else away. And this knowledge-the knowledge that a brown sack of stuffing brings me comfort is what makes him mine. Other things that I claim: -My Scriptures -My Writings -Certain Letters.

There is more though. I think it applies to people as well and to people the most beautifully. When you know someone and not just know them but truly know them. It makes me think of when John Mayer sings "I'm learning you...". When you come to know someone and know them intimately a sense of possession develops. And I do not mean in a controlling sense. But in a loving, charitable sense. Knowledge fosters love which fosters a sense of claim. They are yours because you have laughed with them for countless hours over the hysterical and the tragic. They are yours because you know what their facial expressions mean despite the words they may be saying. They are yours because no matter what, you forgive them and you forgive them instantly. And they are yours because somehow, your life wouldn't be complete without them. You could live and you could live well but with them in it-you live beautifully. There are very few people I would and will ever claim as mine. And I believe that is how it is supposed to be.

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