medieval art history, navel gazing, horizon scanning
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Welcome Home, Henry Francis
It happened! Two days ago, Henry Francis Ferranda Harris was born - my kith, my kin, the tiniest member of whatever clan we are! It's powerful, the sense of pride and protection for him that I feel. The kids are in daily ecstasy at the thought of a cousin, and I just marvel to hear the love and wonder in my brother's voice. In these first hours (when you're still counting the hours of your child's life) every single everything is seismic, is utterly meaningful. I still can't believe he's there, or here in the world - with no possibility of knowing how already loved he is, just for being here. We spent a lot of time today in "Love and War" talking about consciousness (it's Roman de la Rose season) and its intersection with knowledge and identity. So here will come Henry, emerging into his dear self, and coming to know his mother's laugh as she looks deep deep into his eyes, and the rhythm of his father's breathing for sleeping on his chest. What an infant knows. We dismiss it, forget it, supplant it. But it actually is quite wonderful, isn't it: knowledge (absolute, certain, complete knowledge) without consciousness. It shouldn't frighten us the way it does - now that I breathe on my own, without waiting for my infant's breath, I can see the beauty in it. As I struggled to make sense of it all when Oliver came, Mac opened Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents to the passage on "oceanic feeling" - I still laugh when I think of that moment. But oceanic it is, for Henry, for his parents - adrift in this place without horizons they have made together. I recall looking at markers of the mundane (food, television) with curiosity ("Oh, you're still here?") and finding them quaint in the face of touch, smell, weight - all my new knowledges. Oh dear Gina, dear Steve, every unbelievably unique minute is yours - and we can hardly wait to be in his presence, to feel it and to find it impossible to think of a time when Henry wasn't with us.