18 Jan 2007

Comfort Ãu0153ber Alles

,

In reality, a man’s suit of good material and tailoring, which fits properly, is not only comfortable, but actively pleasurable.

And, moreover, not everyone subscribes to the supine viewpoint that comfort outranks all other possible considerations.

In Rostand’s play, the gallant Cyrano de Bergerac, for instance, compares his existential stance of personal independence favorably to his personal choice of a decidedly uncomfortable Spanish ruff collar.

Cyrano to Le Bret:

–Vous, la molle amitié dont vous vous entourez,
Ressemble à ces grands cols d’Italie, ajourés
Et flottants, dans lesquels votre cou s’effémine:
On y est plus à l’aise. . .et de moins haute mine,
Car le front n’ayant pas de maintien ni de loi,
S’abandonne à pencher dans tous les sens. Mais moi,
La Haine, chaque jour, me tuyaute et m’apprête
La fraise dont l’empois force à lever la tête;
Chaque ennemi de plus est un nouveau godron
Qui m’ajoute une gêne, et m’ajoute un rayon:
Car, pareille en tous points à la fraise espagnole,
La Haine est un carcan, mais c’est une auréole !

(Brian Hooker translation:)

You —
Good nature all around you, soft and warm —

You are like those Italians, in great cowls
Comfortable and loose — Your chin sinks down
Into the folds, your shoulders droop. But I —
The Spanish ruff I wear around my throat
Is like a ring of enemies; hard, proud,
Each point another pride, another thorn —
So that I hold myself erect perforce
Wearing the hatred of the common herd
Haughtily, the harsh collar of Old Spain,
At once a fetter and — a halo!

–Edmund Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Act 2, Scene 2.

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