Monday, July 20, 2009

Sentimental value

In the small house that I rented in Cambridge, there was an old wooden chair. I used to sit on them in the evening, sipping beer and watching the swallow in the sky.

"This chair has a sentimental value for me", said the University Professor who rented me the house. "You see, my father made it for me when I was kid".

There is something about the human brain's ability to comprehend and learn language which is quite extraordinary. It was the first time that I heard the expression "sentimental value" used in this particular context, and the meaning was immediately clear. The term has stayed with me, and the memory sometimes returns to me as if in a flash, the enigmatic moment when I first came across this expression of the English language.

We attach a sentimental value to many things in life. Most of the time it is an object. With dynamic, moving things of life, it is often difficult to capture and assign a sentimental value to it.

We do sometimes succeed. For example, I remember vividly how when I was about eight I came across a huge tree where literally tens of common bluebottles (Graphium sarpedon) gathered. This particular species is not uncommon, but I have never seen them in such an abundance before or ever afterwards.

It was in the backyard hill of my relative, in my mother's native island of Kyushu. The forest that covered the hill is now lost, turned into a huge housing project.

The fact that the environment which nurtured it would never return adds fuel and sparkling to the sentimental value of this memory. I treasure it like a gemstone of bygone days.


Utako said...

" It was the first time that I heard the expression "sentimental value " used in this particular context, and the meaning was immediately clear."

I think the expression " sentimental value " has been fermented and become one of your fascination for readers and audiences. We have many excellent scientists and thinkers in Japan, but few lighten this value actively.

The expression rising from a wooden chair in Cambridge is inherited here in this way, and encourage my repression to release. I expect sentimental and weak grief add delicacy to human intelligence. It's my favorite daydream that citizens stalk along the animal trail cheerfully in revived forest.

Anonymous said...

What I need to do is
make open spaces for
sentimental value.