Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Haiku Home Protection and Security

Today, the lines at Haiku Grocery were all short. I made a seasonal reference at the Haiku Town Centre. There was a CD by Basho Mosko at the Haiku Thrift Store. It filled me with a ridiculously disproportionate glee to visit the town of Haiku in Maui today. Despite the spelling on most buildings, Haiku is really Ha'iku, but the word 'Haiku' written on streetsigns, stores, schools, and vans (Haiku Home Protection and Security) was a deliciously dislocatingly dislocution.

It's a simplistically basic notion: the letters seem to signify one thing, but they actually signify something else. Read in two different contexts, there's a frisson. (I'd imagine the same feeling visiting the Walt Whitman Mall. Something seems incongruous, enjoyably so.)

I was trying to explain this to my family and I was thinking about our surname, I'm excited to see our name out in the world, even when it isn't really the same Barwin. There's Barwin in Australia. Barwin Head, Barwin River. There's a ton of Barwinskis, though that has nothing to do with my 'Barwin.' There is an author Barwin, short for Barwinkel. (There are other author Barwins. My cousin Steven Barwin is a great YA author. We've a relative, Victor Barwin who wrote books in South Africa fifty years ago or so. I read his history of the Jews in South Africa called Millionaires and Tatterdemalions.) Recently, I had a great talk with the artist/poet Jen Bervin, where we remarked about the similarity of our names (in the original, my name would have been pronounced with a 'v' sound, and both our families our Litvak, so the name actually might be related.

Barwin. Originally, to my grandfather's family in Lithuania, it was Borwein, (or Borweinis, in the Lithuanian form.) My Canadian relatives, several who are mathematicians named Borwein, talk about B*rw*n.

So, I'm happy to suspend my disbelief, or unsuspend the inverted comma in Ha'íku so that I can imagine that I drove through the tiny perfect streets of a haiku today. But I must have, because I had my own tiny 'aha' moment in the parking lot outside Haiku Laundry, just across from Haiku Town Centre.

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