Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

14 August 2007

Our Parents Were Stars

I've recently finished Jeanette Winterson's very short novel/tale/poem Weight. It's ostensibly a retelling of the Atlas myth. But Winterson uses it to muse about parentage and carrying weight around and sex. It's a fascinating, very short and rather beautiful little read. Here's an excerpt from near the end, after the story has mostly been retold:
What is it that you contain?
The dead. Time. Light patterns of millennia opening in your gut.
Your first parent was a star.

I know nothing of my biological parents. They live on a lost continent of DNA. Like Atlantis, all record of them is sunk. They are guesswork, speculation, mythology.
The only proof I have of them is myself, and what proof is that, so many times written over? Written on the body is a secret code, only visible in certain lights.
I do not know my time of birth. I am not entirely sure of the date. Having brought no world with me, I made one.
Then she talks about time being different on the different planets. A day on Earth is equal to 88 days on Mercury, etc. A little later:
What am I? Atoms.
What are atoms? Empty space and points of light.
What is the speed of light? 300,000 kilometres per second.
What is a second? That depends where in the Universe you set your watch.
This is really cool stuff. Very poetic. And the rethinking of Atlas is quite beautiful.