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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Amor Matris

In James Joyce's landmark Modernist novel Ulysses, the main character (one of two in a cast of thousands) Stephen Dedalus muses on the Latin phrase Amor Matris. The conundrum he poses early on in his interior monologue and one that he comes back to throughout the novel is the possible confusion of how to translate this. It is a linguistic conundrum of the double genitive, meaning that it could be "the love of a mother" for her child, or, "the love of a mother" by her child. The "of" is thus the so-called double genitive and requires context to be clear, a common dilemma in translation as I know all to well. Stephen also at one point thinks with regards to the former that at his worst, he truly was one that "only a mother could love," something unfortunately I have known, or at least felt, at the worst of my times.
Today is a celebration, or at least a commemoration of this duality of Amor Matris (except here in Antwerp, where they celebrate Mothers' Day on Ascension Day in August, due to the city's historic connection to Mary).
This post is an homage to all mothers, for as cliché as it may sound, without them none of us would be here. It is for the memory of all mothers who have passed on, a thank you for those still with us, and well wishes for those who are soon to be. Here is a virtual bouquet for each of them, and please pass this on to any mother you feel may appreciate them.