Thursday, December 22, 2011

On the question of an expression people wish to change

The Celt

  This portrait of our latter-
  day Despina on the runway has
  put one in mind of a reason-
  able question:

  Do people attempt to intervene
  in the expressions of ladies
  with the alarm and solicitude
  they manifest toward the other
  gender's? I honestly don't know.
  But they have a way of seeing
  things they think they can fix,

 What are these deficiencies,
 these unsociable seeming sig-
 nals summoning solutions, un-
 solicited? What depths are
 these, to be so shallowed -
 and what sweet shallows, to
 be so dredged?

 If I knew, I fear I might
 be shot. There's much am-
 biguous business in these

      Say to them, be my friend?
      Command, with the rising
      inflection, Blue, seems as
      close to Despina as we are
      likely to get. I'd sooner
      hasard an unfinished post-
      ing, than leave nice things
      unasked. But I do not mean
      to be glib: why do they come
      to us and say, the scene is
      not as you see; shape up -
      and, endlessly conversely,
      will you do me a favour:

      Will you colour my walls,
      will you borrow my spouse,
      will you be the place my
      soul can go, for choosing?

  Saper bisognami
  Pria la cagione,
  E quinci l'indole
  Della pozione:
  Se calda o frigida,
  Se poca o molta
  Se in una volta
  Ovvero in più ..

  Non vi affannate
  Non vi turbate:
  Ecco una prova
  Di mia virtù!

  I cite the hilarious
  Despina from the in-
  effable romp, the
  delicious nonsense
  of her lyric obvious
  without translation 
  (which would be ruin-
  ously inauthentic).

Ever since 18 Brumaire (hard to think!) nice people have been smarting from this sweet satire on such interventions, and often have gone so far as to suppress performances on charges of cynicism, I ask you to believe. 
Can anyone propose another, purer balsam, than to be subverted in one's jealousies by delight? Is that not the niftiest physic for getting through any coup d'état?

This solicitude toward the masculine expression, with all its zeal for change, is so prevalent that it has become the default party game of choice. No sooner is an expression amended by one player, than the novation is contested by the next, manipulating the face so entirely, that intent no longer has anything to do with its conduct. But what's a party for, if not to furnish an alibi?

     Shall we get an alibi,
     then, Hercule?

     What, Auguste, and deal
     with the crowds?



Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Così fan tutte
  I, xvi, et passim
Lorenzo da Ponte, libretto


  1. Dear Laurent, one would hope that it does not come to being shot for having such knowledge, and then you really might need an alibi or an excuse!

  2. Just so, Dink! The guilty are guilty, certainly, of their own punishment. :)

  3. Today's digression, but - Happy Holidays!

  4. Lovely guy in green, by the way. A grown up (!) Peter Pan?

  5. Dear Linnea, to your first comment, aged nearly 3 hours before the maturing of the second, you may digress with us even on normal days!

    And as to the compliment in your second, that virtue "buys a lot of weigh" around here, also anytime. Will you have some coffee?