Category Archives: Quotes


It is no sin to try and fail, and try again; it is the only way to win.

Si l’on veut a triomphé, ce n’est pas un péché d’essayer et d’échouer, et d’tâcher à nouveau.


Qui veut lire

Qui veut lire, disait mon Prof?

Qui veut dire, dit-je?

Qui voit comme moi?

Parfois aucun qu’un.


Why translate?

My daughter asked me what’s up with the translation, why the fascination? The answer lies in the complexity of communication and the difficulty of understanding.

Qui veut lire?

“Qui veut lire?” said my French professor. His question was generally answered with a deafening silence.

Translation, my French professor said, is a conversation first with the author, then with one’s self, and finally with the reader. Along the way, the translator struggles with a dictionary, looking up various interpretations and readings.

What was intended, what was meant, and what is understood, may vary like the parlor game where the party forms a circle. Someone starts by whispering a phrase into the next person’s ear, and this continues to go down the line, until it comes back to the original speaker, who hears something  differentl.

That is a lot to handle and quite amusing.


Nous savons comment l’histoire va.


In a far, far away, long, long ago kingdom, Cinderella lived happily with her mother and father until her mother died. When Cinderella’s father remarries a cold, cruel woman who has two daughters, Drizella and Anastasia, Cinderella becomes a servant suffering in her own house.

One day the King announces that there will be a fancy dress ball…

WW I black and white video of an American soldier, a little girl and her French village.

Verba in ventum

A bit of gafufferal: ‘Once they leave the lips, Words in the Wind are less than a Will o’the Wisp’

Les mots qui sont partis sou le vent comme une volonté du feu follet


Verba in ventum

Homer’s poetry was originally composed as words to be recited not written. It is now generally agreed that the Illiad was first written down in the 8th century BC. Those who date the Trojan War, generally agree that it took place in the 11th or 12th century BC. This means that the poetry that became the Illiad was developing for three or four hundred years before it took definite form.

During this time the words of the Illiad were verba in ventum, words in the wind that ever changed depending on the speaker, the place, and the moment.

I suppose to be fair and accurate, I should use the Greek λέξεις στον άνεμο, rather than the Latin. The Greeks do not have a direct saying for words in the wind, but they do have όπου φυσάει ο άνεμος, which translates as “where the wind blows” which implies that our views and positions depend on prevailing interests or views.


Did Homer exist?

Was he one individual or a collective composition of the musings of dozens or hundreds of poets who appeared in Greek City States and entertained the citizens with stories of long ago?

Was he a Will o’the Wisp, divine and inspired?

I have toiled over this line in the Illiad. It deals with Agamemnon, son of Atreus, leader of the Greeks, who contemplates the campaign against the Trojans in pursuit of Helen, his brother’s wife.

Late as I slumber’d in the shades of night,
A dream divine appear’d before my sight;

Homer explains, it was a phantom, a will o’the wisp that appeared o’er his head and said:

‘And, dost thou sleep, O son of Atreus?
Ill befits a chief who mighty nations guides,
In council directs and war presides;
To whom its safety a whole people owes,
To waste long nights in indolent repose.’

Something borrowed something blue

All of this gafufferal leads me to the conclusion that words belong to no one. They are part of the collective common, like the air, used as we wish, borrowed, then replaced to be used again and again. They are blue or yellow or red or green depending on our mood, meant to color the world and create images from words.

Gafufferal, I repeat. It is a made up word, as all words are, and if used enough, some day it may be written down and become part of the collective.

green bananas

Are you what you eat?

“Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es.”
Physiologie du goût (The Physiology of Taste), Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, 1825

Often, I have uttered this phrase to myself, to my children when they eat kunk food, and anyone who would listen, never fully understanding what it means. Is it metaphysical, metaphorical, physiological, or paradoxical, for how does one, by any magical art, turn a banana into a monkey?

green bananas

Wann sagst du mir, was du isst, werde ich dir sagen, was du bist.

hands forming a heart encircling the sun

He is Risen

Yellow, the color of sunshine, hope, and happiness, and, as this is Easter Sunday, a sign that He is Risen.

Pâques is French for Easter

Pâques is the French word for Easter. It derives from the Greek “paskha” and Latin “pascha”, meaning “Passover”, which comes from Hebrew “Pesah” meaning “passing way” (“passage”), the Jewish name for the celebration of Passover, which remembers the Jewish Exodus out of Egypt (c. 1450 BCE).

Strange is it not, that the French choose a Jewish word for a Christian holy day?

Stranger still, that the English and Americans call the holiday Easter.

The explanation comes from the Anglo-Saxon monk Bede (673–735), whose explanation, in Latin, translates as:

Eosturmanath has a name, now translated “Paschal month,” which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honor feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honored name of the old.
Bede, De temporum ratione cap. 13

If I think I am, am I?

The subject came up this morning when a daughter said to her father, ” ‘You are as you thinketh,’ Jesus said,”

So she said.

Confounded the old man looked it up and found this:

Jesus says in Mark 7:15-16, “There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!” Jesus is explaining that we are what we think. Proverbs 23:7 backs Him up: “For as [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he.”

This is a good shout out for the theory of positive thinking. So, get rid of that stinkin’ thinkin’.

You gotta believe.

Sunset at Lake Eldorado, Kansas

Tout bien ou rien

“Tout bien ou rien.”

I think I got this from John Muir in his dedication of the book On National Parks, 1901. He got it elsewhere, though where, I don’t know. The sentiment is surely an old one.

I translate it as all is well or nothing. That is literal. Somewhat like the English, All or nothing, but not quite.

Some translations give it as, Do your best or not at all. That works too. If that is the case it is like the Flemish, Als Ik Kan, literally, as I can, and figuratively, to the best of my abilities.

The French phrase, tout bien ou rien, contains opposites, all or nothing, polar extremes, it is good or it is not. Shakespeare likde this form of “simplespeak”. It is ambiguous and clear, depending on the intended purpose of the speaker. One is afraid to argue for seeming the fool.

Ambiguity is a fact of life. It puts one in trouble and keeps us out of trouble. Just ask any politician, who has to explain contrary positions to opposing sides.

Tout bien ou rien, c’est bien fait, c’est tout.

Now, quick, try this – Vite fait bien fait.