As every student in this hall ought to have realized by now, Miss Jean Louis has written for herself perhaps the richest and most densely symbolic autobiography ever contained in a scant twenty-seven words. Our focus today, in our ongoing exegetical lecture series, is word eleven – “in”.
Having established in previous weeks the significance of her beginning her tale with her current regal status and then so quickly, by word seven in fact, undercutting her birthright with the word “hut”, while at the same time alluding to other ignoble births (not the least of which would be Jesus of Nazareth in a manger), we now turn to the flooring, or rather lack thereof, of that very same obstetric hut.
But I get ahead of myself. First we must address the preposition by which we are to relate to that “dirt” or, indeed, “the dirt”, lest we forsake the definite article when Miss Jean Louis so clearly has not! More on that next week, of course.
It is first worth noting what “in” is not. It is not “on” nor “atop” nor “above” nor “into” nor “from” nor “upon” nor “around” nor “near” nor “surrounded by” nor “amidst” nor “beneath” nor “beside” nor “outside” nor “over” nor “through” nor even “to”. “In” may even suggest “of” but as an apostle once made clear, the distinction between being in the world but not of the world (John 17:14-15), or perhaps how Oscar Wilde once phrased it, “we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars” (Lady Windermere’s Fan, Act III), can prescribe a fundamental difference of purpose to one’s being. With “in”, Miss Jean Louis refuses to be bound by her chthonic origins; she is, instead, looking resolutely at the stars.
Digest that, students, as you take a brief recess, and appreciate what prescience and inspiration must have directed that diction. When you return, we shall go deeper, looking at each individual letter and their related symbologies.