Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Food for Thought with the Crusts Cut Off

“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”
- Franz Kafka

Kafka was a pretty tortured existential guy, but he had a sense of humor. I think he would appreciate what I saw in my garden today. While eating my yogurt, I found a website that translates English into Latin.

For some reason, translating things into Latin gives them a distinguished appearance and the weight of profound reason. For example, how much more edifying to say “Bovina Sancta!” instead of the rather dated “Holy cow!” The wonders of the web also gave me the following which I’m thinking of carving on a stone and placing in my garden to mark the way: “Da mihi sis bubulae frustrum assae, solana tuberosa in modo gallico fricta, ac quassum lactatum coagulatum crassum”. Well, you might say, it’s a bit long. Yes, I say, but how much more edifying than “Give me a hamburger, French fries, and a thick shake”.

I’ve always been a big fan of words. The successful search for just the right words can, for instance, convert a dire condition into a charming social status. I prefer to characterize myself, not so much as morbidly obese, as hilariously fat. Likewise, my garden isn’t a jumble of neglected junk and ill-considered plantings; it is a whimsical and refreshing escape from the weight of the real world. Better minds than mine have disagreed about the tipping point when kitsch becomes art, so I’ll just say my garden has begun that journey, but it’s likely to be a while before it arrives at the finish line.

Who cares? I prefer my imagination to the consistency that is the hobgoblin, or troll, if you will, troubling little minds. Many years ago, a lady in Accounting informed me that, with regard to a specific accounting practice, “Sometimes we’re consistent, and sometimes we’re not.” Which, if I’m not mistaken, is the definition of inconsistent. I’m giving some thought to translating that into Latin and making it the new subtitle of my blog. Consistency is all very well, but not all of the time.

At any rate, a vivid imagination is necessary to fully appreciate the subtle details in my back yard. I sat outside on the porch swing in the first warm afternoon of the year, and I tried to take Kafka’s advice about sitting still. And then I noticed a magic troll hiding in the shadows under the bridge.

When our children see trolls under bridges, we dogmatic adults often tell them they are too credulous. The price of holding too tightly to your belief that there are no trolls under bridges may be miss the ones that lurk there. Who is missing more: Those who will question everything, or those who will believe anything? Today, I tried to believe a little bit more, and to question what I saw a little less. And there was the troll, not exactly rolling in ecstasy at my feet, but sitting in a meditative pose, and looking back at me in disbelief.

7 comments:

Karen & Mike said...

Bovina Sancta...reminds me of Porca Miseria! (Pig Misery) It has to be exclaimed in your best Italian accent.

kate said...

I'm kind of partial to 'lactatum coagulatum crassum' - it makes a thick milkshake sound

I doubt I'd survive if I didn't resort to living in my imagination often. I love conjuring things up ... sometimes they don't take the form that I necessarily sought, but they are never fail to entertain me. What I see is a troll under the bridge debating whether to kick up her heels and dance or to devour a piece of cheesecake.

kate said...

oops ... I didn't quite finish my first sentence. 'It makes a milkshake sound like some sort of blood thickener'.

nina said...

Imagination is priceless--so is a latin translator.
I'll have to think of something to use this on!!

greeny said...

Ah, words. My Achilles Heel. I have to hang with people who can use them well.
Everytime I come and read something here, it's like a visit to a masseur or something equally as pleasing. I feel all relaxed and thoughtful, maybe even a bit smarter (easy).
Sacred bovine was a coined phrase of my brother's. I may have to introduce him to the English/Latin site.

Martha in Michigan said...

Re Kafka: I recently bought, using a fat discount coupon from Borders, a DVD set of the Adventures of Young Indiana Jones. I've been enjoying both the feature-length stories (some of which I had caught on the Family Channel when the girls were young) and the 3-4 documentary shorts accompanying each. One episode, in which teenage Indy was spying for the French as a supposed Belgian (don't ask) during WWI, has him arriving in Prague and needing to accept a critical telephone call at a particular time a few days hence. Unfortunately, the telephone has been removed from the apartment he is to use. The entire episode is a prolonged nightmare of him trying to negotiate an impenetrable and immovable bureacracy to get a phone put in. The clerk who finally helps him accomplish this is Franz Kafka. Only the accompanying feature explains to young viewers who the heck that was. I can imagine some of them, years later, getting the joke when they finally learn about him — as I grasped, years later, the real humor behind a cartoon Dishonest John driving a truck with a wrecking ball emblazoned, on the cab door, with the logo Edifice Wrecks.

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