Wednesday, April 11, 2012

reflections hail evolution

Daffodils reflected in a stream.

A bank of purple cumulus appears over the garden this morning though the sun is still shining. There is a flash of lightening and a roll of thunder. Pearls glinting in the sun fall from the sky and lie on the ground before melting.

Time and weather can transform  inscriptions and artifacts so that something quite new often occurs originally unintended and now to be taken for granted. No better example of this kind of alchemy is to be found in  Victor Hugo's description of the  Parisian restaurant, frequented by rebellious students, called Corinth  in Les Miserables. The owner is a cook whose signature dish (to use a current term) is carpes farcies, stuffed carp. He calls the dish carpe au gras, fat carp, but cooks better than he can spell, so paints a sign which reads carpes ho gras. Time and rain take their toll.  "In the winter  heavy showers of rain take a fancy to efface the "s" which ends the first word and the letter "g" which begins the third. Hence a modest gastronomic announcement becomes 'carpe horas' " a variation of Horace's more profound Carpe Diem, seize the day. Seize the hour, meanwhile, Hugo points out,  has the added advantage of serving the original purpose of the notice, which contains the simple message, "Come into my restaurant."


1 comment:

Lorenzo da Ponte said...

One of the refreshing things about touring NZ was the lack of pretentiousness among its rural homeowners. Which isn't a snide Pom way of saying they were thick: among other things they were the perfect hosts. However when we stayed at a B&B overlooking the Bay of Islands and found it was called Carpe Diem we worried whether this exhortation characterised the relationship between the hosts and the guests. Unfortunately the hosts had been called away at the last minute, leaving us in the hands of their daughter and son-in-law. I didn't feel entitled to question them. Perhaps it all boiled down to house plaques such as Dunromin and Le Nid being available at the DIY stores.