On Proliferation 1.xxx

by on Aug.02, 2011

Having just seen our fifth child into the world, my wife and I have some experience of proliferation:

1. The growth or production of cells by multiplication of parts

2. A rapid and often excessive spread or increase

Maybe not an exact description of having children, but when you’ve hit the number of five kids and look back at the relatively short time (that nevertheless feels like a long time, a profusion of times both alike and particulate), that short time it took to get from 2 adults to 7 human beings is (to me) proliferation.

It only takes some of the looks we get in public to know that, at least from some perspectives, five kids is excessive. It only takes a few moments of the natural noisiness that is our household for us to agree. Truth is, we like that noisiness, the sense of a haven of various personalities thrown together. Glorious messiness par excellence… (give or take the French accent…), delectable differences, acutely denied similarities in multi-duplicate, the exquisite noise of a fuzzy receptor, lots of yelling and only some ears covered.

Captured 2007-04-05 00049B by Karen Randall

There are many kinds of proliferation, of messiness. The many spellings/pronunciations of Quadaffi, Ghaddafi, Qadafi (how does that go?) comes to mind. Perhaps nuclear proliferation comes first to mind (probably) for most of us: a debatable and ongoing proliferation despite outward gestures toward pruning, the reality and its many shadows. Clearly the quickest way to a nuclear- and Gadhaffi(however spelled)-free world is to convince our leaders to push the buttons, fire the rockets, get it over with. Proliferate into extinction. Proliferation, the inverse of categorization, opening up to close down instead of closing down to open up.

In fact, there are numerous ongoing, halting, and/or recent attempts to control proliferation in interesting ways: China’s One Child policy, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s (at least perceived) attack on public sector labor unions (whatever “public sector” means), Maine Governor Le Page’s tearing down of children’s sandcastles and workers’ murals, the War on Terror and killing of Osama bin Laden, weeding my garden out back.

Something strange grew up with my radishes, something with little green pods and masquerading as radishes.

Mixed seed in the packet? Previous resident of the previously (in)fertile neighborhood? (What, really, grew there before we moved in, over the years gone by?) Are the green pods edible? Do I even want to know? (Yes, I do want to know what they are, but I enjoy the mystery of it, the waiting for someone else to see and recognize what I have there. The mingling of voices over a divisive plant grown up unwanted makes for other fertile landscapes.)

To pull, or not to pull, that is the question (with apologies to my radishless garden salads). The rooted and the rootless. 90% of my lettuce plants next to the radishes wilted and died despite adequate watering and drainage. Did I say 90%? That just slipped out. I haven’t actually quantified, calculated, tabulated. It’s probably closer to 98%.

While weeding, my daughter accidentally pulled out tomato plants I had transplanted without anyone’s knowledge. They were dead for a day before I realized. There are more where those came from. More plants and more deaths. More stories, more endings, more, more, more. Deaths and lives multiply until…what?

 

THE END

 

 

3 comments for this entry:
  1. Lucas de Lima

    Interesting stuff here. Re: excessive childbirth, it seems apropos to recall Regan’s welfare queen, whose blackness, supposedly low morals and unbridled sexuality fueled his calls for the erosion of welfare.

  2. Jared

    Good point, Lucas. These kinds of media images get nailed down in a singular political moment, defined and then acted upon as if reality. I become convinced that part of poetry’s task is to explode those images back into their multiplicities, perhaps to plumb every possibility of human existence as bulwark against the tendency to overdefine by revealing the overdetermination of everything. My work on the culture of hobos strongly suggests that there is not just one hobo — not the cute cartoon character with a red handkerchief bindle hanging from a stick. Though the hobos organized to form a union and draw up an “official” rules of the road for all hobos to live by, clearly this was a political and social move (felt to be necessary by them at the time) that can tend to gloss over the everyday reality of the American migrant worker/drifter, much like the welfare queen label.

  3. Felicidad Kasmir

    I agree wholeheartedly about “Pan’s Labyrinth”!!! (that movie was so phenominal that I hardly noticed the whole thing was subtitled). Hopefully this one will be even half as good.I actually think Katie does the horror genre pretty well too. I really enjoyed her in “The Gift” with Cate Blanchett and even that other film about the posessed teenagers she was in way back. Good for her : )Report this comment as spam or abuse