Archive for the 'Peasant Palate' Category
Peace, love, contentment, to all.
To that day. When we all go together.
Into the great wide open.
F. Scott Fitzgerald saw it. To the bottom of every bottle. Which, early—44—killed him.
No matter. He got it right. Wrote the Great American Novel. The Great Gatsby. Which ends with this:
Most of the big shore places were closed now and there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the Sound. And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away. Until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes—a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.
And as I sat there, brooding on the old unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther . . . . And one fine morning—
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
The green light, it will never be attained, as Fitzgerald knew, on this continent, by white people. Because they do not belong here. It was a mistake, for them to ever to have come. To this place. Because it is not their place.
The green light, they can bask in it—the white people—when, “boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past,” they return to from where they came. Where they should, forever, have remained.
the little bird; all that there is
(And so, as the world turns, again it is May. Time, then, to rerun this piece, and get with the sage.)
The ancients were enamored with sage. So am I. The ancients believed that sage could confer immortality. What I believe: who knows? I eat the stuff, and I’m still knocking around.
Among the English, it is believed that the plant’s immortalist properties are most pronounced in May:
He who would live for aye
Must eat Sage in the month of May.
We have almost all of May to go here. So get to nibbling.
Or maybe it’s okay to wait until next month. For over there in Provence, says Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat, folks aver “[i]t should be picked on the dawn of Midsummer Day when the first ray of sunlight strikes the highest mountain.”
Provencal proverb: “he who has sage in his garden needs no doctor.”
And everything would have turned out happily had not rumour of the komarinsky finally reached Foma Fromich.
“What is it? What has happened?” Uncle exclaimed, panic-stricken.
“What has happened? Do you realize he was dancing the komarinsky?”
“Well . . . what about it?”
“What do you mean, ‘What about it?'” roared Foma. “How can you say such a thing? You who are their master and, in a sense, their father! Have you any idea what the komarinsky stands for? Do you know that this song depicts a vile peasant in a state of drunkenness, who was about to commit a highly immoral act? Do you realize what this debauched yokel did? He violated the most sacred ties, and as it were tramped upon them with his huge peasant boots that are accustomed to nothing but stomping the floors of drinking dens! Do you realize that your reply has insulted my noblest feelings? Do you realize that your reply has insulted me personally? Do you realize all this, or not?”
“But Foma . . . it’s only a song, Foma.”
“What do you mean, only a song! And you are not ashamed to admit you know this song—you, a member of decent society, father of fine and innocent children and a Colonel to boot! Only a song! How can a person with a grain of propriety admit that he knows this song without dying of shame, that he has even heard of it? How, how?”
“Well, you have, Foma, seeing as you are asking,” Uncle replied in all simplicity and confusion.
“What was that? I know? Me . . . me, you really mean me! The insolence!” Foma Fromich suddenly yelled, jumping to his feet and choking with anger. He never expected such a stunning reply.
I shall not attempt to describe Foma Fromich’s rage. The custodian of morality banished the Colonel from his sight for the indecency and ineptitude of his reply. Foma Fromich now swore to apprehend Falaley at the scene of the crime, as he danced the komarinsky. In the evenings, when everybody thought that he was occupied with some task in hand, he would steal out into the garden and, skirting the vegetable beds, conceal himself in the hemp, from where there was a good view of the patch of ground on which the dancing was supposed to take place. He lay in wait for poor Falaley like a hunter stalking his prey, and gleefully looked forward to the distress he would bring upon the whole household, and especially upon Uncle, if ever he were successful.
—Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Village of Stepanchikovo