Saturday, March 8
Two things happened yesterday that made me reflect. Firstly, one of the students played A Whiter Shade of Pale on Spotify, which caused me to re-experience a particular summer when I was sixteen. This in turn caused me to leave the room, because I had suddenly experienced the fact that Auo will never have the equivalent experience, because she will never be sixteen. I waited in the toilet until my tears had finished before resuming teaching as though nothing had happened – which in fact was more or less the truth.
Earlier in the day I had read through an article about “trigger warnings”, which many argue should be placed at the beginning of articles or discussions that are likely to cause distress to some reader or viewers. According to an article in New Republic:
The “Geek Feminism Wiki” states that trigger warnings should be used for “graphic descriptions or extensive discussion” of abuse, torture, self-harm, suicide, eating disorders, body shaming, and even “psychologically realistic” depictions of the mental state of people suffering from those; it notes that some have gone further, arguing for warnings before the “depiction or discussion of any consensual sexual activity [and] of discriminatory attitudes or actions, such as sexism or racism.” The definition on the Queer Dictionary Tumblr is similar, but expands warnings even to discussion of statistics on hate crimes and self-harming.
I reflected that things that directly remind me of Auo do not usually cause me great pain, although they continue to make me very sad. What does cause me pain, cause me to catch my breath and cry, are unpredictable events that catch me by surprise. Like a train of thought begun by unexpectedly hearing A Whiter Shade of Pale, a song that Auo neither knew nor recognised as far as I am aware. Trigger warnings are part of what Ilich called the medicalization of society, like the growing use of the word survivor to mean anyone who has got over a nasty experience.
The second thing that happened involved the Japanese band Babymetal. I found out about them, watched a video, and immediately realised that I would have loved to have seen Auo’s reaction. And, of course, realised at the same instant that it was just one many occasions when I will never know what she would have said.
I am thinking all this while I am walking along beside the sea, where Auo and I used to walk and cycle. We have had breakfast, and tidied the house. It is a beautiful Spring day and it would be foolish to stay indoors.
In the afternoon Irma and I will go to Prisma where I will decide that 1TB external drives are too expensive to bother with yet.
At 16:00 Irma will go to see Hannu to continue her treatment and I will send Olivia a Facebook message to tell her about Babymetal. She will reply to tell me that she doesn’t know whether they are good or bad and she is speechless.
Naa will spend the evening with Sampo and Irma and I will have a glass of wine.