Archive for the ‘Having Or Being A Family?’ Category

Household, Kin And Family

Is a “family” something we have, or something we are part of? The Latin familia was a noun formed from famulus, a servant – whence also the witch’s “familiar”. It meant, not a relationship of kinship but one of ownership. A Roman’s familia was thus his household staff of slaves – it was something that […]

What Is Left?

Consider the following sentence, which I encountered somewhere or other: “Family matters more than the individuals who make up family”. Really? So what is this thing called family if it is not the individuals who make it up? If we deduct the individuals, what do we have left? If they are all sacrificed on the […]

A House Divided

“When therefore the wife was enraged against her husband, the sons against their father, the servants without cause against their master”, asks a twelfth-century English writer, “might you not say with ample justification that a man is at war with himself?” Well, yes, if the wife, sons and servants are considered to be a part […]

I Wanna BE Someone, Not DO Anything!

People have commented unsympathetically on the way some youngsters are consumed with the desire to be something, without any real interest in the art, skill or knowledge required to get there. There is a huge difference between the love of singing and the desire to be a pop star. Some artistes have the former, some […]

My House, My Car, My Family

It is educational to listen carefully to the way people talk about “having” a family. Because in the ordinary sense of the verb “to have”, the object that you have is not part of you. If you have a house, a car, a boat, a dog and a family, these are separate from you, and […]

Bow Down Before My Reproduction

Orlando Figes’ book “The Whisperers”, on silence and trauma during and after Stalin’s Terror, is a heartbreaking read. Despite the incredible cruelty and misery he chronicles, however, some part of my mind could not help responding in a way he would neither have intended nor wanted. I noticed, in the many old Russian family portraits […]