Every day in every way I grow more and more despondent, and I started from a pretty low base. There are some words I find impossibly difficult, and they are undoubtedly related to my long-term and/or innate despondency. 'Love', 'feeling' and especially 'happiness' are at the head of the list. This is not because I haven't experienced any of them, but because whenever I think about using the words I don't really know what anyone means by them. I'd find it easier to sit down and write a book about each (coming, obviously, to no conclusion) than to use them casually in speech or writing. I'm not alone in my stuttering, but most people seem to get by with those sorts of word, understanding them in an accepted, acceptable sense. I find it hard to use them seriously (I was going to write 'sincerely', but that's another problem word) or without some form of qualification. I can quite easily come to terms with the inevitable fallibility represented in the idea of 'good enough' mothering, but 'good enough' word-use is harder to resign myself to, though just as necessary, I suppose. Remember Prince Charles: 'Whatever "in love" means'? I never thought to compare myself to HRH, but he is, among other things, a bit of a nit-picker and miserablist, and we do have that in common.
LRB 23 September 2010 | PDF Download