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Friday, September 3, 2010

Never, never

I can remember a time when it seemed I was collecting and gathering people in my life. At a young age, I mean. I remember my only requirements for someone to have a place in my life be that they were around the same age as me. My friend Allison remembers going door to door asking if there were any other kids inside that wanted to come out and play. When you are a kid you just want to be surrounded by other kids. I feel like I believed as a child that all the problems in the world would dissipate if we built one big kid empire. Like J.M. Barrie, did in Peter Pan. Of course I was painfully shy and introverted, so my utopic visions were terrifying to me in reality. But there's an interesting story about Old J.M. Barrie-
Barrie's brother who was older than him died shortly before his 14th birthday in an accident. His mother was heartbroken, as he was her favourite child. J.M. wore the dead brother's clothes and tried to whistle in the manner that he would have to appease his mother. His mother often found peace in the idea that because his life was cut short in her mind he would remain a boy forever and never grow up and leave her. J.M. Barrie was six years old when his brother died and it is believed that the stress of this caused him to never grow taller than 5' and 3'' and to live an asexual adulthood. The term often applied to this is Psychogenic Dwarfism.

This photo of JM Barrie I find captivating, he does appear like a child playing dress-up. Or a child who dresses as an adult. The delicate wrist that comes out of his sleeve, and his tiny fingers seem to just hang. The heavy folds in his suit make it clear that the body within is much smaller.
He reminds me also of Joseph Cornell, who, though not dwarfed from trauma, was much the same way. He lived with his mother and brother (who had cerebral palsy) on Utopia Parkway (what a sorrow filled name for a street!) for his entire life save the three years he was at school. He spent most of his life caring for his brother and though he was very interested in women he never became involved. One of Cornell's final shows was of boxes that were for children. Hung at a height that could be seen by a child and they served pop and cake at the reception.


These days it seems I add or subtract only one person at a time, slowly building trust and a bond. In our adult lives we are so opinionated that we won't associate with just anyone anymore. But its interesting to me, these two men, how the people in their lives shaped their personalities. And though neither of them had children, nor were really pursuing the means to do so, children were such an important part of their lives and personalities. Why do we have this desire to remain children? I'd like to hear any thoughts on the matter.