Wednesday, February 15, 2012

alienation of affection

It's a rather poetic term, isn't it?

Alienation of affection?

Did you know it dates to at least the 1800s and is a legal term associated with tort cases involving adultery?

I didn't know that, did you?

Who is doing the alienating?

Who the affecting?

Who is alienated from whom?

From whose affection?

What would "alienation of affectation" mean?

Does alienation of affection therefore result in bonding of disaffection?

Who doesn't feel alienated from affection now and then?

Know what I mean?

How would one insource such outsourcing of affection?

Do you think this is all just fun and games, merely wordplay?

How do you measure alienation?

How do you assess affection?

When do you know you've reached the state of "alienation of affection"?

What's the cure for alienation of affection?

What is this, twenty questions or something?

Are we done here?

Monday, February 06, 2012

It Is written, Or Is It?

Two weeks ago last Saturday -- oh, who cares when it was. Does it matter? So, I'm standing by the doorway inside Chipotle (which nearly everyone pronounces as if it were spelled Chipoltee), on Marshall Street, in Syracuse. I'm observing people accessible and visible on the sidewalk, easily seen through the big plate-glass window comprising the store's facade as they busily stream by. I see this bearded fellow walk by, wearing a Boston Red Sox wool cap. Wait. We both catch each other's eye. Wait. Hold it there a sec. There's that expression "double take." Or, as Merriam-Webster.com puts it:

"a delayed reaction to a surprising or significant situation after an initial failure to notice anything unusual"

Merriam-Webster says the first known use in English was in 1930.

In 2012, we both did a double take. Just like on TV or in the movies.

Stopped in our pedestrian, quotidian tracks.

We each did a take, then stopped, then did another take, maybe even a third and a fourth take.

Then I opened the door and advanced outside.

"Dan?"

"Paul?"

"Paul?"

"Dan?"

We laughed. But, knowing Dan, he was not totally surprised. Knowing me, I was not totally surprised. Yes, we were in Syracuse, but Dan lives in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. We see each other maybe once a year, maybe once every few years. We've gone stretches of hardly having any contact for -- what? -- a decade? So, the coolest thing is we were surprised but not surprised. Dan, knowing me, and vice versa, admits of such providential possibilities. And vice versa. (There's an expression: vice versa. Why isn't there an expression "virtue versa"?)

In the movie "Lawrence of Arabia," if I recall correctly, Lawrence says to one of the Arab tribal leaders: "It is written." Wait. Wouldn't it make more sense if someone said it to T.E. Lawrence? "It is written." By whom? And is it? If I remember the movie correctly, Lawrence ends up thinking nothing is written.

For reasons I find hard to explain, the phrase "it is written" resonates with me more readily than "it is God's will" or "God has a plan for us" or "God has a plan for me." And yet. Why? One sounds more mystical? Or mysterious? Or more respectful of free will? Can't explain that.

And yet.

So, was this written? Or pure coincidence?

And does it matter?

Why?

Or why not?