Today Vincent has lamented the fast disappearing of good and useful words – albeit of foreign origin – from the Danish vocabulary. Words such as ‘etui’ are now replaced by others whose functions rely on longer and longer descriptions. As he put it, these days when you want to buy one such device to protect your train ticket from dog ears, you have to tell the vendor something along these lines: “I want a plastic thing in which I can put the other thing.” Unless you want to pass as one having just landed from Mercury, that is.

Here I must say that I instantly laughed at Vincent’s bypassing the moon in favor of the other thing, especially since I know that the orbit of Mercury has the highest eccentricity among all the planets in the Solar System. So, for the ones in the know, there was an intended, yet subtle catachrestic and parallel relation to the way in which categorizations are made these days: not the Aristotelian way, but the Platonic one. Unless one knows a thing or two about deconstruction, most people still believe in the one-to-one relation between a thing and a concept. So the function of a thing still reflects whatever most people get to associate with a certain concept.

Since French has become retrograde in spite of its avant-gardism, however moribund these days, it is no wonder that those who insist on not giving up its ghost will be deemed eccentric. Consequently, the fact that the plastic ‘dims’ now replaces ‘etui’ should not be seen so much in the context in which ignorance rules, but in the context in which this ignorance is the result of a cultural crisis which can be traced all the way from the central station in Copenhagen to Roskilde University where the French department awaits its inevitable demise. I can still remember my own moments of eccentricity when I mourned the day we buried French at Aalborg University. Thus, in the face of the inevitable, keeping it simple is a way of embracing it, the inevitable, that is.

Culturally, I’m afraid to say that Vincent himself served to show it, that language goes where it wants to go independently of what we may prescribe. While he got his French right (except for the 'chateque' (Fr. charteque; Da. chartek) he didn’t do so well where German is concerned. Vincent, my friend, an ‘etui’ is not also called a ‘føderal’ but a ‘foderal’ (Da.) or ‘futteral’ (Ger.) Ultimately however, who cares really? The woman behind the counter would not have been able to spot that difference either. So we go with that. Distinctions these days are not made across intention but image. I go with that.

While I think of Napapijri’s use of the Norwegian flag on all their Italian clothes, which Vincent wears, I think of final causes. The thing is that whatever the thing is called, right now, as I’m booking my three weeks vacation in Norway, I also make one-to-one associations: in my mind I’m cruising already in the other thing that some decided to call The Planet Voodoo Mercury 1950 coupe. Hair down, sun in it, and eccentricity galore.


Popular Posts