Wednesday, June 24, 2015

La dernière classe et mon autre chemin/The Last Class and My Other Way

Tonight is my last French class. After this I will have a Certificate of Fluency from Conestoga College...which means...well, I guess we'll find out what it means. I'm not fluent in my own eyes. I can carry on a limited conversation on a number of topics, and I can read French fairly well and write it passably. But the certificate says otherwise...or does it? Who knows?

That's the thing about credentials. I had a sociology prof in first year, an old man who could get his class snoring in major triads. Word for word, spoken in a quiet, breathless and wheezy voice: "Now...Theory A and Theory B have many similarities. One could in fact say that...Theory A...and Theory B...are the same theory! Isn't this fascinating?"

No. It isn't.

Anyway, his favourite word was "credential". He used it in the singular, in the plural, as a noun, as a verb...he probably said "CREDENTIAL" when he sneezed instead of A-choo or that mouse-squeak well-bred women sneeze with that makes me dodge the nose I'm sure is about to come rocketing off their face. It got so the word meant nothing to me. And really, what does it mean? In university, it means you can read and regurgitate the textbook the professor wrote, look at the puddle of puke you spewed forth, and pronounce it factual puke. Veritable vomit. In computer science, most of what you take is obsolete within months. This "Certificate of Fluency" is a credential...I guess it means what I want it to.

And what is that, exactly? This was supposed to be a bridge into an office job. It may still be. I plan on taking the government test to see where they think I stand.

Regardless, I will be keeping the French up. It's something I really enjoy. It opens up whole other worlds for me.

Not least in music and literature. I've posted a few French songs here with English translations...this will be the last of them. It's definitely the most challenging I've tackled...I only did so because of the subject matter.  As to that subject matter: three guesses and the first two don't count.

This song ROCKS. Musically and lyrically.

English translation by yours truly:

Je l'aime aussi -- I Love Her* Too -- Fredericks, Goldman, Jones (1990)

We shouldn't meet the pretty eyes of beautiful strangers in the streets
Above all we shouldn't hear any more the voices
of these sirens with their outlaw scents.
I didn't kill, deny, or steal--I didn't even manage to have regrets. 
When I'm (laying) against her, it's not(hing) against you.
And when people love, first they don't keep score.
One day you'll forgive every fact of the war.
 But you hardly forget the effects of love.

Chorus: (It's a) common story, abnormal, amoral. 
An unlawful gap between right and wrong.
Beautiful and blasphemous, one and the same.
For one thing I love you, I love you...
But what can I do if I love her too? 
We will never have trains for love.
Never any schedules, no straight tracks in life.
I love her too.
And Rome sermonizes, the bells ring,
even though there are so many (people) who love nobody.

If the Western Man is monogamous.
Do we know that love is too?
Not far from here, some kilometres away,  It is said that "the game is poly"**.
"Jules et Jim", and "Jeux interdits" (French movies with poly content) --
When music in trio is  (so) nice, 
Tell me, who here deserves the exclusivity of a a whole life? (to Chorus)

Bridge: In the low tides of missing love,
Bless the living with a double dose of envy. 
I love her too.
Where and when, to whom, for what,  apologize?
There are so many who hate at will. (to Chorus)

*For a gendered language, French is sometimes surprisingly (and here pleasingly) ambiguous about gender. This song could just as easily be called "I Love Him Too"--you only know for sure it's "her" because of one word in the first verse. Change that single word and it's "him".

**Something I find fascinating about this song is its recording date. 1990 is widely cited to be the year in which the term 'polyamory' was coined. (I first learned the word in early '92 when the alt.polyamory USENET newsgroup was founded...)  Yet here it's casually invoked ("it's said the game is poly") as if it was a common word. Granted, 'poly' is just as translatable in French as it is in English, but still...


The last line of this song...that's the thing about polyamory for me. If I had to sum up why I choose this often chaotic and challenging path, it would be with one of two sayings, depending on context. The first would be "too good not to share", which is something I have heard applied to anything fantastic that isn't a romantic relationship. The second would be even simpler...I LOVE. It's what I do, what I strive to embody. "There are so many who hate at will"--to counter that, I love as widely and deeply as I can.

But back to French for a minute. This song proves I'm not fluent. I listened to it three or four times before I even had the chorus (sort of) understood--then when I had a French copy of the lyrics in front of me I puzzled through the rest of it, even having to look up six or seven words. That's not fluent. That's barely out of diapers, as far as I'm concerned.

I've always done things srdawckab-ssa and inside out. Getting this, ahem, credential in adulthood is just the latest example. I should have been in French immersion as a kid: I'd be miles ahead of where I am now. Let me pause for a bit to see just where that is--and then I'll come back and tell you where I'm going from here.

No comments: