make me laugh, she said
so I showed her my penis
that’s not what she meant
Did you know that under section two, rule fourteen, clause three of the “Cocktail Pianist’s Handbook”, there is a minimum recommended amount (in litres) of alcohol that must be consumed by law before sitting at the instrument and atonally slaughtering/medleying any number of entirely unrecognisable jazz standards.
The words artisan and artist bear a striking similarity, don’t they? What do you mean “no”?
Anyway, that’s because they are related and originate from the Proto-Germanic stem árkrwraz, which can be roughly translated as “not cut out for farming”. In the common era, as society and language evolved and grew ever more complex, a greater level of definition was required, so there came to be distinct differences in their meanings.
One is a craftsman, who most likely has toiled from a young age, with a passion burning in his chest, to render the finest possible quality product. Highly skilled in his or her trade, they will stop at nothing to create something of exquisite worth and authenticity. They are obsessed with the tenets of aesthetics and design whilst modestly cultivating the power to touch the human soul. Put simply, they are conduits to the apex of our artistic existences.
The other is an artisan. (He’s the one with the beard, selling overpriced chutney.)
Ever wondered why the words pottery and poetry are so similar? Of course not, no one has.
It’s because they both originate from the Old Norse stem Poerte, which can be literally translated as “hot words”.
This is in reference to the long defunct medieval Scandinavian tradition of baking finished poems in a kiln, before glazing them and either displaying them on shelves or eating herring soup from them.
January 1876, Basel
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche is sat in an armchair by the fire, pensively stroking the long, coarse whiskers of his prodigious moustache. Without breaking his middle distance stare, his left hand suddenly reaches out to the table next to him, palm down, patting the table in a jerky left-right motion.
He is searching for the source of the ringing he can hear. A slow intermittent, high pitched “briiiiiiing briiiiiing”. It takes a little while for him to realise that the sound must be in his mind, as the telephone had only just been invented and wouldn’t be commercially available for several more years to come.
Elisabeth, his sister, bustles in, destroying the moment.
“Thinking again? You’re always bloody thinking, you are. It won’t do you any good, Fred, I tell you.”
Elisabeth, Friedrich’s junior by two years and a right brassy old mare, had been looking after him since the “incident”.
She insisted on calling him “Fred”, a situation he secretly loathed but tolerated out of love for his sibling.
The “incident” had lost Friedrich his tenure at Basel university and he was therefore currently unemployed.
The general public, it would seem, were very sensitive about the welfare of their horses.
Elisabeth had noticed that Friedrich had become very quiet recently, barely moving or speaking at all, and if he did speak, it was incomprehensible muttering. She had become inured to the silence and was shocked when, out of the blue, he broke it.
“I have something I need you to write down,” he mumbled, hardly audible above the crackling of the logs on the fire.
She stopped herself making a flippant remark on him losing the use of his hands, just in time; remembering the near catatonia of her brother’s state.
As much as she may have resented being coerced into his being his secretary/carer, she knew her brother was a brilliant man and she managed to calm herself before reaching for her fountain pen.
“Go ahead, Fred, I’m ready.” she said, waiting expectantly. She licked the nib of the pen and placed it on the parchment.
“That which doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger,” this utterance coming out halfway between a whisper and whistle.
“Sorry, Fred, I didn’t quite catch that. You’re going to have to speak up a bit.”
A chestnut log issues a whistle and a loud “snap”, causing Elisabeth to jump.
Friedrich doesn’t react at all.
“Could you just say it again, dear?” she asks, hopefully. His magnificent moustache bristles almost imperceptibly as she says this; Elisabeth pretends not to notice.
Friedrich clears his throat before saying angrily but still no louder,
“That which doesn’t kill us, makes… us… stronger…”
The scratchy nib on the parchment is the last thing Friedrich hears before falling into a comatose sleep.
Knowing she will not be able to wake him for hours, Elisabeth remains standing next to her brother, soaking up the warmth of the fire and squinting at the candlelit parchment.
She reads out loud to herself the sentence he dictated, which, strangely, reads more like a shopping list-cum-stage directions than a philosophical master work:
“Sandwich dozen pillows, place it on her?”
The same log snaps and hisses as Elisabeth mumbles under her breath,
“Well, Fred, it’s not one of your best.”
The telephone rings. Simone de Beauvoir rushes to answer; edging a table with her thigh and knocking a porcelain vase to the floor.
She knows it’s Jean-Paul. She’s been waiting for his call.
“‘Allo?” the voice on the other end declares tinnily, “can you hear me?”
“Yes, yes, of course, my love,” she says. “How’s it going over there?
She was aware that Jean-Paul had been working all week at the Sorbonne with Camus and that they felt that they were on the brink of something extraordinary.
“Oui, tres bien, merci. ‘Ave you got a pen, my love?” Jean says impatiently and she mumbles in the affirmative whilst scrabbling for un stylo.
“Write this down. It is the greatest summation of existential philosophy since the dawn of modern thought….‘allo?
Simone, are you there?”
“Yes, I’m here my love. Sorry the line is very bad, Jean, I can barely hear you.”
“No matter, Simone, just get this down, we haven’t got much time, it’s very important and Albert and I are gagging for an absinthe spritzer. Are you ready?”
“Oui, mon cher, I’m ready.”
The line crackles badly but Jean continues,
“Hell is other people.”
“Pardon, Jean. you’re breaking up, I didn’t quite get that, could you repeat it please?” Simone squints into the receiver, as if somehow that will help.
“Mon dieu, woman,” Jean yells down the line. “Just write it down, will you, before I forget…HELL IS OTHER PEOPLE!”
The static on the line peaks just before the line goes dead.
Simone slowly places the receiver back in the cradle and picks up the notepad from the desk.
She says aloud to herself, puzzled, “Alice tofu treacle?”
“Well, I have to say, it’s not one of his best”
that’s a penny change,
thanks, i grimace back
committing another copper disc
to the ranks of the unloved
a miserable life down the back of the couch
or swimming forever in the dark of my jeans
or letting it drop into a dubious charity box
you know the one, for homeless hedgehogs with ADD
or the one with a fox, there’s always one with a fox
why isn’t everything a pound?
it’s 2015, for God’s sake
we’re not still dealing with florins and groats
or bartering your sister or your sister’s goats
the world’s gone plastic, so there is no need for coins
but i’ve got an idea; a really sweet plan
let’s get them all collected and melted down
and made into towns for homeless mammals
with poor attention spans
OK, so maybe not
but a world without pennies, is a world
of cleaner sofas and hedgehog towns
and a world where no ones trousers
keep on falling down
i’m going to write a letter to the IMF
suggesting the abolition of denominations less
than 50 pence or cents
and the reinstatement of “Blackface Dollars”
(after that lawsuit, i’ve got nothing left)
so, let’s get together, us, the 1%
make it evident, we’ve had enough
shout it from the rooftops, it’s time to #changeourchange
let’s march on Wall Street, bring it out in the open
and witness the demise of
the world’s most unpopular monetary token