Testimonial–Miriam Brody and Isaac Kramnick
For Zillah from Isaac and Miriam
We are very pleased to share our love for a dear friend whom we’ve known for many years.
But we have been mindful of the suggestion that we speak in such a way as to embrace the progressive politics of our friend..
And with that we paused, because the only language we have is the oppressor’s tongue, English, the tool of centuries of imperialist dominance.
We have a smattering of French, but that too is obviously colonially corrupted.
We coped with this injunction, therefore, by abandoning English as we know it, reaching back to the language in its infancy before its empire, the innocent uncompromised people’s “middle English” of Geoffrey Chaucer.
So with hopes of offending no one, except perhaps lovers of literature, we freely steal his rhyme, meter and diction with the following verses describing our precious friendship:
Whan that Zillah with her flowing tresses
In the wilds of Ithaca there professes
to bathe her studentens in swich licour
Of which socialist feminism is the flowr. .
But no, we thought “this isn’t working….’: And besides middle English was contaminated with feudalism, no one’s idea of a good thing,
and so why not embrace something further on and more comprehensible…. ? Maybe Elizabethan. And so we imagined Zillah, Hamlet-like, soliloquizing
To be global and universal or
To be glocal and polyversal,
That is the Question
Whether it is hegemonic in the mind of some
To suffer the depredations of the master language
Or to invent syllables in the sea of meanings
And by opposing
But this too we thought, isn’t quite what we want …and besides Shakespeare wasn’t very good with women, or with race, the “noble Moor” notwithstanding
And so we were left bereft, until another Elizabethan, Sir Philip Sydney, recalled himself to us in a similar moment of writer’s block. He remembered:
Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite: ”Fool,” said my Muse to me, “look in thy heart and write.”
And so we did and do:
Then it seemed so simple to say merely: We celebrate Zillah on this special day, remembering almost forty years of friendship and we thank her for
Cooking with us
Raising our children with us
Reading what we wrote
Writing what we read
Changing what we think
Being with us in pleasure and in pain, in good times and in bad
And ecstatically and unreservedly we anticipate joyously continuing our journey through life with her and with Richard.