Monday, September 28, 2009

Tiffany

So: according to a book I have on loan, I Give You My Word, by Ivor Brown:

Tiffany is a form of theophany, which means the appearance of the god. Hence Tiffany was a popular name for Epiphany, which also means a divine manifestation of personality. In the late Middle Ages, Parisians called the Epiphany (of the calendar) "Tiphaine".

For the past several years, ever since seeing the show Passing Strange (six times), it's been difficult for me to read or hear the word epiphany without thinking of part of the song "Passing Phase."

In the show the main character (the Youth) has a modern-day odyssey peopled by nitpicking churchgoers vitally interested in shoes (well, somebody might have to cut them a little slack there. . . ), countercultural artists who are bourgeois at heart (flashback: the photo of father and proud son Mick Jagger after the singer was knighted by Prince Charles in 2003), a mother who needs him to fill her cup instead of letting him fill his own, and a girlfriend whose genuine love he rejects--apparently because he's too young to understand ("Youth is wasted on the young" would come in handy here).

To his younger self, the Narrator sings:

Wish we could talk about how the means will not prepare you for the ends,
How your epiphanies will become fair-weather friends,
How death will make you lower your defenses
The only truth of youth is the grown-up consequencess. . . .


(How your tiffanies will become fair-weather friends?)

Mr Ivor Brown, who was editor of The Observer in London from 1942 to 1948 also notes that in the dress-maker's salon tiffany "used to be a transparent, silky gauze. Was it because the human goddess was thus revealed?" And then he goes on to use the word ecdysiasts.

I wonder if ecdysiasts can be translated into Italian a way that preserves both eye and ear sense.

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