Feb 5, 2021

the rattle 2/5

— Since reading The Hobbit to the kids, I picked up Humphrey Carpenter’s biography of J.R.R. Tolkien. I keep thinking about this passage:

[Tolkien] managed to find books of medieval Welsh, and he began to read the language that had fascinated him since he saw [as a child] a few words of it on coal-trucks. He was not disappointed; indeed he was confirmed in all his expectations of beauty. Beauty: that was what pleased him in Welsh; the appearance and sound of the words almost irrespective of their meaning. He once said: “Most English-speaking people, for instance, will admit that cellar door is “beautiful,” especially if dissociated from its sense (and its spelling). More beautiful than, say, sky, and far more beautiful than beautiful. Well then, in Welsh for me cellar doors are extraordinarily frequent.”

— From Gail Heidi Landsman’s Reconstructing Motherhood and Disability in the Age of “Perfect” Babies, a book about mothers of children with disabilities—a subject of much cultural patronizing and sentimental dismissal:

The overarching question I have asked is not how do mothers cope, but rather, what have they learned? […] I did not set out to help mothers but rather to explore what women who nurture young disabled children have come to know about what it means to be a person.

More about the rattle here.