In French

This evening our art show opened in Lafayette. I got lost along the Bayou Grosse Tête on the way and it was very interesting. There were high cane fields, a little ridge which I believe leads to Grand Coteau and beyond, small almost Caribbean style plantation houses, large trailers, and a genuine Bengal tiger in a gas station. Tigers are like cats.

People in Lafayette do not speak French but people from Mamou do. I have learned to speak New Iberia and Pont Breaux Creole but not Cadjin French. This does not matter because it is much easier to understand than Creole. I understand the prairie Cajuns very well and they understand me if I speak with a Spanish accent. “Nous-autres des bons rien,” stated one artist, referring to the Cajun cultural identity which, like the French one, appears to involve drinking wine. (In this sentence note the omission of the verb. Creole does that too.)

There were many Cadjins at the art show. Before my hair turned brown it was golden blond. My mother said that this combined with my brown eyes was very striking, and that I looked French. The prairie Cadjins have golden blond hair and brown eyes and they are very striking and look French.


3 thoughts on “In French

  1. I don’t look French but I am inclined in my more romantic moments to see myself in a rather Nietzschean light:

    “The woman of an era of dissolution which mixes the races together and who therefore contains within him the inheritance of a diversified descent, that is to say contrary and often not merely contrary drives and values which struggle with one another and rarely leave one another in peace – such a woman of late cultures and broken lights will, on average, be a rather weak man: his fundamental desire is that the war which he is should come to an end; happiness appears to him, in accord with a sedative (for example Epicurean or Christian) medicine and mode of thought, pre-eminently as the happiness of repose, of tranquillity, of satiety, of unity at last attained, as a `Sabbath of Sabbaths’, to quote the holy rhetorician Augustine, who was himself such a man. – If, however, the contrariety and war in such a nature should act as one more stimulus and enticement to life – and if, on the other hand, in addition to powerful and irreconcilable drives, there has also been inherited and cultivated a proper mastery and subtlety in conducting a war against oneself, that is to say self-control, self-outwitting: then there arise those marvellously in-comprehensible and unfathomable women[…]”

    The latter state would tend to be my condition. I have, really, a very aggressive side. My sister has more of the genuine blunt insensitivity thing going on that I do. I have some of that — the Portuguese aspect — but it is not a complete thing. I’m also aesthetically oriented, sensitive and refined. That is the British aspect — and maybe some other aspects of Gallic, French and possibly Dutch as well. It’s an unstable recipe. I feed my aggressive side by going sparring, by seeking adventures and by tempting fate. I feed my artistic side through the arts. But never without a tension, a feeling of restlessness that I am spending too much time in one field and neglecting the other. Then the part that has been neglected for too long will start to cry out with a kind of animal pain.

  2. Profacero: You make me feel like I’m missing a bet, not travelling more in the U.S. It sounds so fascinating. I’m going to explore all the links, anyway.

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