Wednesday, July 26, 2006
The Emperor's New Clothes
One of the delights of being able to read write and speak Danish fluently is that it gave me the opportunity and pleasure of reading H. C. Andersen’s stories in the original – and here I mean the original original. Old Hans had a way with words and wrote and spelled them in ways he felt fitted exactly the story he wanted to tell. Above all, he was a storyteller, and a storyteller knows that it’s the words you choose and how you say them which spin the illusion any story is.
In Denmark, H.C. Andersen is known as a “poet” (“digter” pr. “dick-ter”) and his most famous work as his “poetry” (digtning, pr. “dickt-ning”). Obviously, the meaning of poet, in Danish is a bit broader than we commonly understand the term.
Poetry is more than lines on page that rhyme and there is no fine line between prose and poetry. The best prose has an element of poetry. Really poor poetry, is prose with a bit of pancake and lipstick in the form of lines that start with capital letters and end in some form of (forced) rhyming pattern.
Poetry says several things at once and has an element of music.
The charm of the story about the Emperor’s Clothes is the naiveté that a little boy exclaiming, “...the Emperor has no clothes!” could change everything. I’m sure that Hans knew darn well that such a turn of events are highly unlikely in the real world.
In the real world, what happens is that the Emperor’s goons – sorry, the Emperor’s Dedicated Security Personnel grab the kid and beat the shit out of him.
That is, that’s what would happen in the bad old days. In these times of Arrogance, they start off with ignoring the kid. Since everyone goes around with a brain implant telling them to pay attention only to what they hear on Approved Media, this usually works and the kid shuts up because nobody’s paying any attention to him.
If that doesn’t work, a band of pundits and talking heads are unleashed and pretty soon they’re all screeching, “Goddam Terrorist Sympathizer, Librul Spawn of Satan!” y’ know, stuff like that.
But if the kid keeps mouthing off and somebody gives him a megaphone, well, it might, it might just happen that everybody sees that not only is the Emperor not wearing any clothes, he’s not carrying all that much baggage between his ears either.
By the way, dear hearts, did you know the word “Emperor” comes from the Latin “Imperator”? It was the title of choice which Julius Cesar took when he became Supreme Hole of Rome.
“Imperator” is a military title and translates pretty closely in English to “Commander in Chief”.
Have a good day!