by Charles Broskoski
In your palm my word and thought.
"In fact, not one of her inventions, deemed so subtle and so wonderful, which the ingenuity of mankind cannot create; no Forest of Fontainebleau, no fairest moonlight landscape but can be reproduced by stage scenery illuminated by the electric light; no waterfall but can be imitated by the proper application of hydraulics, till there is no distinguishing the copy from the original; no mountain crag but painted pasteboard can adequately represent; no flower but well chosen silks and dainty shreds of paper can manufacture the like of!" - Against the Grain (1926), K. Y Huysmans
"HE had always been madly fond of flowers, but this passion which, during his residence at Jutigny, had at the first embraced all flowers without distinction of species or genus, had in the end grown more discriminating and precise, limiting itself to a single type.
For a long time now he had scorned the everyday plants that blossom on the counters of Parisian florists, in dripping flowerpots, under green awnings or red umbrellas.
At the same time that his literary tastes, his preferences in art, had become more refined, no longer caring for any works but such as had been tried and sifted, the distillation of overwrought and subtle brains; at the same time that his disgust with generally accepted notions had reached its height, simultaneously his love of flowers had rid itself of all base residuum, all dregs of commonness, had been clarified, as it were, and purified.
He pleased his fancy by likening a horticulturist’s shop to a microcosm wherein were represented all the different categories of society — poor, vulgar flowers, hovel flowers, so to speak, that are really in their proper place only on the window-sill of a garret, roots that are crammed in milk-tins and old earthen pots, the gilliflower for instance; pretentious, conventional, silly flowers, whose only place is in porcelain vases painted by young ladies, such as the rose; lastly, flowers of high lineage, such as the orchids, dainty and charming, trembling and delicate, such as the exotic flowers, exiles in Paris, kept in hothouses, in palaces of glass, Princesses of the vegetable world, living apart, having nothing whatever in common with the flowers of the street, the blossoms that are the delight of grocers’ wives.
In a word, he could do no more than feel a trivial interest, a slight pity, for the people’s flowers, fading under the poisonous breath of sewers and sinks in squalid districts; to make up, he loathed those that go with the cream and gold reception-rooms in new houses; he reserved, in fact, for the full and perfect delectation of his eyes, rare plants of high-bred type, coming from distant lands, kept alive by skill and pains in an artificial equatorial temperature maintained bycarefully regulated furnaces.
But this choice of his, that had deliberately fallen on greenhouse flowers, had itself been further modified under the influence of his general ideas, his opinions that had now come to definite conclusions on all matters. In former days, in Paris, his innate preference for the artificial had led him to neglect the real flower for its copy, faithfully executed thanks to india-rubber and twine, glazed cotton and lustring, paper and velvet.
He possessed in accordance with this taste a marvellous collection of tropical plants, produced by the cunning fingers of supreme masters of the craft, following Nature step by step, recreating her, taking the flower from its birth, carrying it to maturity, imitating it to its final decease, observing every shade of its infinite variety, the most fleeting changes of its awakening and its sleep, noting the pose of its petals blown back by the wind or beaten down by the rain, sprinkling on its morning leaves little drops of gum to represent dew, fashioning it according to every season, — in full bloom, when the twigs bend under the weight of sap; or when it lifts its parched stem and ragged corolla as the petals drop away and the leaves fall.
This admirable art had long fascinated him; but now he was dreaming of the construction of another sort of flora.
He had done with artificial flowers aping the true; he wanted natural flowers imitating the false." - Against the Grain (1926), K. Y Huysmans