Friday, May 31, 2002

To Know Know Know You, Is To Love Love Love You

I was trying to explain the two French words "savoir" and "connaitre" to someone the other day. Both of them mean "to know" but if you speak any French, you are aware that these two words come at knowledge from completely different directions. The verb "savoir" to know, shares the same root as words like savant and scientist and could be called the "knowing" of scientific knowledge. The French "Je ne sais pas" which means "I don't know" is from savoir. The verb "connaitre" gives us the word "connaisseur" and the notion of an "acquaintance" and has a sense of bodily knowing, or knowing through love or appreciation. If I asked in French if you knew Jean-Jacques, I would use the verb, "connaitre," The wine connaisseur is not a "just give me the facts, m'am" kindof guy, but rather someone who can appreciate and gain knowledge by sensual connection. How the heck the English language lost this richness, which romance languages take for granted, is a mystery. Or maybe not.

I was also trying to describe once to a man how it felt to be in my house, in my kitchen, washing dishes and simultaneously "knowing" the mood of my busy toddler on the floor — very happy — the tenseness of my husband upstairs rummaging around his office looking for something he'd misplaced — his abrupt stops and starts and heavy foot fall indicating his frustration — the weather on the cusp of spring and all the anticipation in budding trees and eager animals losing their winter coats, birds renesting — the feeling of the running water beginning to lose heat because I'd been standing there too long and the watertank couldn't handle it, the thought that pasta with asparagus was a perfect thing for dinner and the slight tug at my womb knowing my period was a little late and what the hell this might mean for the current family scene, and last but not least recalling we needed to deposit a check to avoid getting overdrawn, experiencing all of this knowledge in the blink of an eye — on a regular basis. Feeling/Knowing/Intuiting all of this at once — thy name is woman.

No comments: