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Episode 05 Doing a Life

March 27, 2011

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Words and Music–Richard Allen
Produced by David Barratt at the Abattoir of Good Taste

Vocal and Guitar–William Thaumatrope
All Other Instruments–David Barratt

NARRATIVE

The experience of everyday life, in particular the significance and role of non-working life, that is, of home life, speaks to the core of our being. The nature of home life, including the character and quality of sex, the place of ritual, leisure practices, food consumption, child rearing, speech communication, and language, is the subject matter of social psychology, anthropology and other disciplines that break the experience of domestic life down according to gender, caste, income, urban vs. rural, country, tribe, religion, age and so on. But it is, most significantly, the stuff of novel-writing, where a far richer and differentiated discourse prevails for understanding domestic life. If one is seeking to understand say, character of home life among the Indian middle class would you be more inclined to turn to anthropology or to Vikram Seth’s novel A Suitable Boy?

In the experience of everyday life there is an immense difference between the lives of those who have children and those who do not. This difference is partly one of age–the culture of the young versus the culture of family; it was traditionally one of gender–the man working away from home with the woman at home combining domestic labor with child rearing; it is partly one of class that mitigates the burdens of child rearing by the conveniences money can afford; and, more recently, in the west, it is one of gender orientation, gay life versus straight life–though gay couples are increasingly adopting children it is still a relatively small number.

But let’s just consider heterosexual couples. Even here, the difference in home life between those who have children and those who do not, amounts, I think, to a great cultural and experiential divide. Having children completely transforms one’s relationship to the future and hence to life itself. It engenders overwhelming burden on time and energy that is hard for those who do not have children to imagine, and an immense sense of responsibility. It imprints an indelible pattern on life, a cycle of past and future, beyond the trajectory of self-hood, augmenting and thickening the network of emotional relationships that constitutes family in ways that are essentially unpredictable and open-ended.

Given the nature and difficulty of child rearing in a epoch of rapid social change and the encroachment of adult public culture into every sphere of childhood experience, one can readily understand how the ethos of family life becomes defensively and hysterically encrusted within the ideology of family values. What is less remarked upon however is the relief felt by parents when children finally grow up and the pleasure of domestic routines informed by a shared love that is unencumbered by the responsibility of children can be experienced anew. . . . if it is not too late to do so. I am attracted to an evolutionary theory of parent-child relations. The enormous effort required to raise a young child is more than compensated by the sheer delight of having them around. Teenagers on the other hand are programmed to become a headache so that the parent can readily kick them out of the nest, and set them on their own potentially reproductive path. I readily admit that this may not be good science.

LYRIC

I walk the dog
You fix a meal
You talk of work
But what do you feel

I drink some wine
You check the screen
Will you please tell me
How have you been?

I walk the dog
You fix a meal
You talk of work
But what do you feel

I drink some wine
You check the screen
Will you please tell me
How have you been?

Just doing, just doing a life
Not living easy, just living tight
Gotta be thinking, thinking its nice
Just being, just being alright

I touch your hand
You caress my face
I kiss you mouth
And we embrace

I am in you
You are in me
Are we just flesh?
Is our love for real?

I lie in bed with you asleep
I feel your breath, I feel your heat
Then I relax and close my eyes
And dream a dream of love that never dies

Just doing, just doing a life
Not living easy, just living tight
Gotta be thinking, thinking its nice
Just being, just being alright

Just doing, just doing, just doing, just doing a life
Not living easy
Gotta be thinking, thinking its nice
Just being, just being alright

 

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From → Thaumatropemusic

One Comment
  1. MARY permalink

    Very well done. I admire your words and your music and I think I should become your groupie…even highly intellectual rock stars probably need them. I am planning to visit my daughter Lisa in New Haven in early July and would be honored to buy you a drink to celebrate your success.
    MBroad

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