The Stream, a River, a Torrent, This Puddle, the Sea

'Jimmy's Fairy Tale,' by Woodford Yang on Flickr

[Image: “Jimmy’s Fairy Tale,” by Woodford Yang. Found it on Flickr (used here under a Creative Commons license). The artist/photographer — the user who posted it, anyhow — offers absolutely no context for it: where it was taken, what it depicts, who “Jimmy” might be/have been… nothing at all. (The user profile indicates that he is based in Taipei, and I found numerous references to that exact name around the Web; but I really have no details to offer.) Whatever it “means,” I like that the train’s label — referring to van Gogh’s painting, presumably, or to the Don McLean song about it — echoes (or is echoed in) those softly glowing overhead lights.]

From whiskey river (italicized portion):

Critics who treat adult as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up…

A critic not long ago said in praise of a very serious fairy tale that the author’s tongue “never once got into his cheek.” But why on earth should it?—unless he had been eating a seed-cake. Nothing seems to me more fatal, for this art, than an idea that whatever we share with children is, in the privative sense, “childish” and that whatever is childish is somehow comic. We must meet children as equals in that area of our nature where we are their equals. Our superiority consists partly in commanding other areas, and partly (which is more relevant) in the fact that we are better at telling stories than they are. The child as reader is neither to be patronized nor idolized: we talk to him as man to man. But the worst attitude of all would be the professional attitude which regards children in the lump as a sort of raw material which we have to handle.

(C. S. Lewis [source])

Not from whiskey river:

Lied Vom Kindsein (Song of Childhood)

When the child was a child
It walked with its arms swinging.
It wanted the stream to be a river
the river a torrent
and this puddle to be the sea.

When the child was a child
It didn’t know it was a child.
Everything was full of life, and all life was one.

When the child was a child
It had no opinions about anything.
It had no habits.
It sat cross-legged, took off running,
had a cowlick in its hair
and didn’t make a face when photographed.

When the child was a child
it was the time of these questions:
Why am I me, and why not you?
Why am I here, and why not there?
When did time begin, and where does space end?
Isn’t life under the sun just a dream?
Isn’t what I see, hear and smell
only the illusion of a world before the world?
Does evil actually exist,
and are there people who are really evil?
How can it be that I, who am I,
didn’t exist before I came to be
and that someday
the one who I am
will no longer be the one I am?

When the child was a child
it choked on spinach, peas, rice pudding
and on steamed cauliflower.
Now it eats all of those
and not just because it has to.

When the child was a child
it once woke up in a strange bed
and now it does so time and time again.
Many people seemed beautiful then
and now only a few, if it’s lucky.
It had a precise picture of Paradise
and now it can only guess at it.
It could not conceive of nothingness
and today it shudders at the idea.

When the child was a child
it played with enthusiasm
and now
it gets equally excited
but only when it concerns
its work.

When the child was a child
berries fell into its hand as only berries do
and they still do now.
Fresh walnuts made its tongue raw
and they still do now.
On every mountaintop it had a longing
for yet a higher mountain.
And in each city it had a longing
for yet a bigger city.
And it is still that way.
It reached for the cherries in the treetop
with the elation it still feels today.
It was shy with all strangers
and it still is.
It awaited the first snow
and it still waits that way.

When the child was a child
it threw a stick into a tree like a lance,
and it still quivers there today.

(Peter Handke [source (among many other citations, including the script of Wim Wenders’s Wings of Desire])

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