August 25, 2012 § 2 Comments
I found myself thinking of the word tristesse several times yesterday, as I moved from the glorious outpouring from people celebrating Gene and his centenary all around the world to an absence that I felt inside. Gene frequently used the French noun to describe a particular way that he was feeling. More than just sadness, it revealed a deeper kind of sorrow; a melancholy, really. It reflected his precision and his determination to find just the right word or phrase to express himself as fluidly and artfully as possible. Gene had a tremendous facility with language. With great adeptness, he could swing from Latin to Yiddish to French, even to the street slang of his young. It was a colorful mix, but never gratuitous. It was simply the way he thought and spoke, the way he saw the world. I realized that with tristesse I had looped back to our beginnings, to our early shared love of words. Perhaps not so unconsciously I had found a way to connect with him after all.