Page 6 - Boca ViewPointe - March '21
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Page 6, Viewpointe                                                   March 2021


      Book Review



       Survival Is A Style                                                                                 I ever called you that.”) There is no lack of symbolism and
                                                                                                           ambiguity “To eat the awful while you starve your awe/to
       James Cook. In Her Room: How Music Helped me Connect                                                weasel misery like a suck of egg.”
       with my Autistic Daughter. London: Lagom, 2020                                                         Raised  in  rural  West  Texas  and  transitioning  to
       Christian Wiman. Survival is a Style: Poems. New York:                                              “cucumber” Connecticut, he reflects as a Christian poet on
       Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020.                                                                    his life:
       “In matter of great importance, style..is the vital thing.”                                            We were five souls crammed into one life,
       Oscar Wilde                                                                                            and so incorrigibly poor—or was that fear?—
       “Disappointments abound in the raising of children.”                                                   We all [five] slept in one room
       Proverbs                                                                                               and shared one great big closet drawers. . .
       “Music has the Charm to make the Bad Good.”                                                            A Distillation amongst the Convert, the Skeptic, the
       Shakespeare                                                                                         Apophatic, the End of Prayer, Dementia.
                                                                                                              He is one “for whom God is not entirely gone.” He recalls
       By Dr. Ronald J. Meyers                                                                             his early thoughts on death:
                                                                                                              How fun when young you feel your death
          The raising of children,                          When his Emily was born, he got down on his knees in      browsing around you like a little goat.
       while surely one of the most                      the hospital to thank God, but from this ordeal, he is not sure      And then the trauma of falling under the diagnosis of
       pleasing tasks enjoined                           about the permanence of his faith.                cancer:
       to humanity, is fraught                              Poetry, like music, typically draws on emotion that      When the doctor said I’d likely die I thought of my father
       with  constraints. And                            compresses pain and suffering into art. Christian Witman,      telling me he’d learned to read a cancer look.
       amplified when the parents                        a successful editor, translator and Professor of Religion      Drawing  inspiration  from  Master  Eckhart,  Simone
       encounter immeasurable                            and Literature at the Yale Divinity School, creates poetry   Weil, Emily Dickinson, he echoes Rabbi Abraham Joshua
       frustration and challenging                       with insight and poignancy about his triumphs and   Heschel’s intolerance toward non-believers.
       discouragements. On a                             disappointments through the landscape of America. He writes      People ask if I believe in God and the verb is tedious to
       vacation  in  Sardinia  with                      of the abundance of life, universal and particular topics and   me.
       his German girlfriend, James Cook falls in love and declares   themes: friendships, his old bitch dog Rosie, McDonalds      Not wrong, nor offensive, nor obtrusive, nor embarrassing.
       his intentions; and they agree to settle in London where he   in Middle America, Thursday afternoon faculty meetings,   Tedious
       is pursuing a musical career as performer and writer and she   his moderating faith and the Biblical “there is nothing      These two books together teach that Style in the end can
       is a teacher. They soon enjoy the blessing of their daughter   new under the sun.” He brings his considerable powers of   enhance the best of our lives and mitigate the worst.
       Emily. But James and Anita are soon mired by the discovery   observation, a caustic eye, informed intelligence. Respect for      Next Month: Tarot and Jewish Mysticism
       that Emily is colic, cries incessantly, and proves to be quite   his father’s work ethic but not a strong connection: recalling
       slow in her cognitive and mobility development.   father chasing rats with a broomstick on the “so incorrigibly      Dr. Ronald J. Meyers, a resident of La Paz, is an Emeritus
          Those among us who have been privileged to have   dirty floor” yet “I felt nothing when you died, Father (As if   Professor of English. rmeyers@esu.edu. 
       experienced normal child rearing are indeed fortunate,
       spared the trauma of dealing with the dangers fraught by the
       unknown. Cook, who was pursuing a career as a composer
       and performer in London when his daughter was born,
       assumes the mission of discovering and annotating the
       issues related to her stunted growth. Particularly moving
       are the loving parents’ continuous efforts to seek help to
       mitigate their daughter’s condition. And this is the journey
       of uncovering the truth about Emily to which he sacrifices
       his own freedom.
          What constrains children from their normal development,
       we learn, is related to the emergence of their cognitive
       processes. Principally our brains are the engines even at birth
       that instruct our capacities to cry when hungry, smile and
       laugh when happy, then of course to crawl, stand and walk.
       Emily’s retarded development in all of these functions leads
       to an exploration of the information available as to why she
       is not developing normally. An array of different doctors and
       specialists are brought in to explain Emily’s predicament. We
       learn that deprival of oxygen at birth can seriously impede
       the normal progression and this phenomenon is determined
       through tests. The genetic incompatibility of the parents
       (consanguinity as between sibling and even cousins) is                   Want Results Now?
       another factor that must weighed. And even the possibility
       of a genetic mutation. After discounting the previous
       possibilities, the doctors conclude that autism is the likely         • Drug Free • Surgery Free • Pain Free
       prescription. James grounds himself in the notable literature
       of Autism that has been generated over the course of the last
       century.                                                                  Cold laseR TheRapy
          In the meantime, the stress inflicted upon the parents leads
       to a rupture in their relationship. Anita convinces James that
       the child would be better served if they moved to Germany                                               Experience this non-surgical
       where her parents can help. James agrees to the move in the                                             drug free treatment option
       hope that he can gain a foothold and reestablish his career as
       an English songwriter; though the plan does not materialize.                                                Receive A FREE Gift
       And so Anita and James agree to separate; James returns to
       London with frequent return visits to Frankfurt.                                                          with first appointment
          The beauty of the book is rendered in the tender bonding
       between James and Emily over their common joy in music.   Medicare, auto, workMan’s coMp  and Most Major insurance accepted
       Even while she was in the crib, James serenaded her with
       lullabies and with his broad musical tastes as they evolved   AdvAnced PhysicAl TherAPy AssociATes
       from Pink Floyd and the Beatles to Nick Drake, David Bowie,
       Kate Bush. Apparently music draws upon a different kind of
       cognition and itself evolved earlier than language. The joyous
       bond between father and daughter is the sublime take away
       from the book as well as struggle for survival in the face of
       adversity.
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