Monthly Archives: February 2016

Maybe it always comes down to our fathers.  Or our mothers, I don’t know.  My mother, Becca– our mother, properly  — often speaks her praise of me. She’s always had something against Esse, though. She said we fought even while we were in her womb. I guess it was a troubled birthing. Yet we each survived it. As I have never forgotten, he managed to get himself into this world first. Just barely, but first.

Come to think of it, Becca has always gone easier on me, taken my part, over against Esse’s. She was always disciplining him; but it seemed like I could do no wrong. I wonder if he ever hated me for that? Maybe she just saw through his charm.

Izzy, though, always preferred Esse’s company to mine. Always. As soon as he could walk, my brother was hunting. And Izzy loved game meats and stews. I remember when we were just five or six, Esse would trap conies and bring them home to cook. Izzy would take out his long, curved knife – I remember its metal  was yellow like straw and green-tinged, and he would show Esse how to cut up the carcasses and decide which bits were for stew and which were for the roasting.

[Part 4]

‘Easy’– everyone called him that. His name is Esse (it rhymes with ‘Jesse’) but his gift of charm and his easy-going ways were right there to be seen even when we were small. We were born nearly at the same time, yes, twins. But he charmed his way here first. I am frequently reminded of that. I was literally right behind him, they say I had my hand on his foot as we both emerged from our mother’s womb.

Everyone always liked Esse, even when we were kids together. They said I was too thoughtful, always wondering about the whys and the wherefores. Our father preferred him, of course. And as the elder son, Esse was set up from birth to inherit whatever little fortune the old man might be able to amass. The funny thing was, Esse didn’t care—if he had money, he spent it. He was crazy generous, too easy-going to be anyone’s head of household. About as responsible as a he-goat. And hairy like one, if the truth be told.

Strangely, we were never really pals. I know that is unusual in twins. I wanted out, I wanted to learn about the world. I wanted to see the city. Esse wanted nothing more than to wander the fields and date a girl from the next town. Or several.

[Part 3]

Jake’s Testimony


Once upon every time, each family hands down  its stories.  Many are never told, outside of the small circles huddled around the last sleeping mat that old Auntie ever would lay in, or during that mourning time we had to spend together after the passing of Dear Old father. You know.

After long hesitation, I’ve decided to tell you ours. Mine. This one.

My grandfather was a religious nut who went around breaking into other people’s sanctuaries and destroying their statues and holy relics.  It is not surprising that he had to keep moving out of town, and never settled down properly. He had two sons; and abandoned one of them. Probably they had some sisters but I’ve never heard their names mentioned. I could blame my grandmother for the ‘lost’ great-uncle, since she was the jealous type, but I blame him. The patriarch we are all supposed to admire and speak no ill of.

My father, Izzy, now he was a piece of work. God’s gift to everyone, or so he would tell you.  But what did he ever do, when it comes down to it? He found my mother and married her; I’ll give him that. God bless my mother, Becca, she had a lot to put up with. She saved me more than once. Izzy carried on the family line, he was good for that much. He told us about the time his father almost slit his throat, told us about wrecking all the statuary and how they kept losing everything and being forced to move far, far away again and again. Izzy retired early and just grew older and older, being apparently in no hurry to die and leave us something to live on.

But it’s really about my brother. I think this whole story is really about my brother. Damn him.

[Part 2]

I’ve been thinking about it, off and on since I read this book many years ago. And I’ve decided that, where there is no reciprocity, there is no friendship. This is saddening realization.

The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies

By Marcel Mauss (1954)

Add to that, these observations by C. S. Lewis, who himself was the chief connecting force among the Inklings: CSL on ‘friendship’ (philia) from his book, ‘The Four Loves’ (1960)

On the magisterial tone, and why everyone should (mostly) avoid it
TL:DR: (I believe) In conversation, you should verbally only put yourself forward as authority, or as the judge or arbiter of something, when you really, really are competent and expert on the point you are making. Otherwise, it is a unforced rhetorical error. (Generally speaking.) What I call “the magisterial tone” is a well-worn form of expression in English, and in other languages as well (especially German and Latin) which, by using words and phrases, the speaker attempts to imply that they really, really know what they are talking about, that other views on the point are inadequate, and that the matter ought thereafter be closed to discussion. Here come de judge— and the judge has banged the gavel, rendering a decision.
This is something articulate and voluble people, of all ages, do; and I encounter it frequently on Facebook and elsewhere. One easy example: When the writer — or speaker, in conversation — commonly resorts to forms of “to be” verbs in describing some assessment of their own. It sounds like the judgement is rendered from “on high” — “This is That. It is Nothing But That. Shut Up.”
Life — your life and my life — is not overseen by an omniscient narrator, at least, not one that you or I can reliably speak for. Almost everything we post can and possibly should be viewed as carrying a silent, ‘…or so it seems to me.’ Or maybe an explicit one. Now, there are certainly times when the magisterial, or authoritative voice is called for, and the best choice. When you are speaking from actual expertise, for example. For example, “That is not how the PCI bus works” * may be perfectly valid, accurate, and the most economical way to move the discussion along. But adding snark that implies, “But you dumb fucks don’t really get this, do you?” wrecks the otherwise useful point you might have established. It’s verbal bullying, pure and simple, and no one should do it. And it doesn’t work.
Now, the opposite of the magisterial tone is what I will call Namby-Pamby-speak. This sort of talk includes a lot of “Sorry, ….” and “I know, but…” This can also easily be overdone. “Sorry, but I really think that is an explosive combination, would you consider putting that down?” is not what you want to be saying, just then, right?
And, some equal time for opposing views:… “It’s just that…” & “Never” & “Always” and even “Clearly” are traps, but not necessarily tied to one gender or the other. I always will remember Dick Cheney using “Clearly” as his ‘tell’ — what it meant was “I have absolutely no factual basis for the next words coming out of my mouth.” See also: “In fact.” **
*I made that up. I actually don’t have much knowledge of PCI buses, except that some things fit in them and others don’t. Being able to read Wikipedia entries, etc. doesn’t make anyone an expert on anything significant.
**This authoritative ‘tone’ and ‘voice’ thing is related to the nonce-word, ‘mansplaining’ but applies, I think, a broader application of it. Everybody does it, sometimes.