I recently had someone tell me he disowns me. This struck me as an incongruous turn of phrase since he never owned me to begin with (nor does anyone else for that matter), thereby making disownership a non sequitur, a logical fallacy, a semantic impossibility. The term also has a peculiarly nineteenth century flavour to it, evocative of pistols at thirty paces on the moor at dawn. At any rate, it was a word I had never heard this person utter before now (and I am quite familiar with this person’s utterances). It did not sound at home in his mouth. However, this person had, just one month prior, learned that his only son—a son he has been barred from seeing for the child’s entire life due to custodial wrangling and judicial gamesmanship—had grown up being told that his father disowned him, when in fact very much the opposite was true. And so when this person had occasion to want to inflict the greatest pain he could imagine on someone else, he reached for the sharpest sabre in his collection and slashed it down upon my neck. But since the term had no meaning to me other than the conundrum of logic that it presented, his blow struck me like a pile of dead leaves swept up by a gust of wind. And I stood there wondering how all those leaves got into the kitchen.
July 22, 2014