my fetish

I must confess of my chief fetish: I cannot resist the impulse to buy books.  The inclination to read them seldom lasts and if it does, I seldom find the time or patience to read them in their entirety, but despite this rational voice in my head, a book with an appealing title will call to me from its crowded space on a book-sale table.  It will lure me with promises to improve my intelligence, make me a better person or at the very least entertain me.  Not to take it home would mean that I was choosing to be less than I could be.  Usually, following a brief struggle with myself, I surrender and before I know it I am leaving the bookstore with a packet in my hand, feeling improved already.

Yesterday, when I spotted a poetry collection by Don Maclennan (“Grahamstown’s gaunt doyen of poetry”), there was no struggle with myself to be had.  The fact that I only had to pay R16 for this rarity is nothing short of ‘sacrilegious’.  His work has managed to keep me fully interested for more than a decade and I can read and re-read the same poem for years.  For me, Don Maclennan is volumes of philosophy neatly packed into the shortest of verse.  Words, mundane details and profound wisdom are crafted together into beautifully succinct melody.             

What was he saying?
 

 ‘People must learn to love
before they die,’ said Freud.
But we’re too scared
to throw away our reticence
like old vegetables, or books
we no longer need to read.
People still ask,
‘So what’s he telling us?’
 

 Sit in your chair
in the winter sun.
You’ll think of something.
 

 

 in Reading the Signs, 2005. Carapace Poetry Magazine. 

 

I did think of something (even though it was not in the winter sun): What if we are largely mistaken about love?  It seems as though we think of love as something that we stumble across, find or even “fall” into.  This might be somewhat true.  But what if the love that Freud is alluding to is one that we have to “learn” to do?  If so, Don seems to be suggesting that learning to love has something to do with discarding of our “reticence”.  Perhaps there are some things we should rather not hold onto if we want to learn how to  really love? 

What idea, dream, identity, fear, habit, expectation, belief…do you have to discard to truly allow yourself to love the ‘someone’ in your life?
 
 

 

 

Published by Jason Ross

Jason Ross is a Counselling Psychologist with a fervent interest in the use of LANGUAGE and TEXT. His areas of practice include: injury and illness psychology, sexual health, relationships and addiction.