Friday, May 15, 2009

pose, name, nocebo

Posted by PicasaDo
you
suppose
a rose
can pose?

Names of previous owners on the inside of second hand books often add
a dimension to the pleasure of possessing the book experienced by the present owner. I am taking a break from Proust at the moment to read one of the Simenon paperbacks which I find from time to time in the Oxfam bookshop in Chapel Place. This one is inscribed Denis Keefe. France '74. There is a lot to be inferred from these words, and they somehow add to the melancholy pleasure of reading the pages of taut, unpretentious narrative, printed on paper, once white and now faded to a fog-like pale ochre.

A new word in the leader of this week's The Week magazine is nocebo. This is the opposite to placebo. It is used to describe the effect of health warnings. Just as placebos can make people better by boosting their natural self-healing abilities, nocebos raise negative expectations in the mind that can become self-fulfilling. I am someone, who cannnot see a health warning without believing that I have the symptoms described. I can spot a nocebo from a mile away and will run another mile when I meet one.

9 comments:

The Crow said...

It appears the unopened bud has adorned itself with dandelion down. Perhaps it saw you coming with your camera.

:)

marja-leena said...

Greetings from Paris! Thanks so much for the wonderful visit we had with you and H. recently, and for the sweet mention a few blog posts past. we are
catching our breath after the rush of London, and of arriving here. Such big big cities with so many people and their machines! We are enjoying ourselves but realizing that we do live in Vancouver, a small town in comparison! Today we admired a large bank of many different coloured roses in full bloom under Notre Dame Cathedral and thought of you.

Barrett Bonden said...

Discussed the used-book experience with Avus some months ago. He took the romantic view but I've been less lucky. I don't mind a signature, what I hate is "No!No!" written in the margin against some philosophic argument, or a pathetically triumphant but small-minded correction of a typo. Even worse when this happens in a library book.

Plutarch said...

I must admit, Friend Crow, that I did not notice the down when I focused the camera. It couldn't have come their afterwards. Crows have good eyesight. Well spotted.

M-L Now that we have met it is easier and an even greater pleasure to visualize you and Fred strolling by the Seine, or looking at rose by Notre Dame.

Plutarch said...

BB. You lent me a delightful book once of which I have been trying to remember the title. It had included the word calin I believe. I do remember however that there was a third person in the relationship between me, the reader, and the author. That was the previous owner who proffered translations over my shoulder, which I found rather disturbing. Please remind me of the title and the author. It is worrying me that I can't remember them.

Barrett Bonden said...

The book was Gros Calin, the author Romain Gary. And I must confess to being that interloper between you and the author. The book was one of many used as part of my French classes, and is defaced by underlinings of difficult words with verifications in the margin. You got off lightly with Gary; you would be hard put to read the current book, Père Goriot, which is covered with many more Q&As.

Plutarch said...

Somehow it makes me feel a lot better, although in retrospect, that it was not a complete stranger at work and that the verifications were yours. What was interesting was the words I already knew and those which I didn't know, some of which were not underlined.

Lucy said...

Lovely post all round! Your rose rhyme reminds me of

'they haven't got no noses, the fallen sons of Eve, and even the smell of roses, is not what they supposes...'

that my mother used to say! I've never checked its origins...

Plutarch said...

Lucy: That was somehwere at the back of my mind. Thanks for reminding me of it.