Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pursuit…curiosity….and writing
came together when I was in the beautiful city of Nantes, which has many reminders of  Anne and her family. I spent a fascinating hour pursuing another of my interests—graphic arts—at the Musée de l’imprimerie—the Museum of Printing.
I admired a print being made on an old lithography press, and then found it among the graphics offered for sale. I knew enough French to relate the text to pursuit and writing; and thought the piece was beautiful, so bought it.

The text says:  “Tant et tant d’or j’ai dépensé pour l’écriture enfin trouver”

Once home, with my French dictionary at hand, I set to a precise translation, which eluded me. I have now asked for help from people I know who are fluent in French, who are themselves immersed in literature and the arts. I’ve gotten some literal translations, which fall short; and some more complex interpretations, which are probably closer. Michelle, a very cultured Parisian who knows several languages, identified the calligraphy as Arabic and tried to translate it, but could not be precise. Brigitte, a Swiss-born academic, thinks it may be old French. Annette, who is immersed in literature and the arts, but whose French is not great, gave it a metaphorical interpretation, which I really like, that “ all the gold and worldly goods are an empty pursuit next to the art or beauty in the design itself.”
She’s a very perceptive old friend, who knows me, and added that she saw I was pursuing another journey to satisfy my curiosity. She is right, and I will add that my pursuit of curiosity has been noted and appreciated by many of my blog followers and friends.
I received a response from the president of the museum in Nantes, who said that the Arabic calligraphy is by a Tunisian-born artist who lives in Nantes, named Lassaâd Metoui, whom he will ask about the meaning.
Anyone else have any ideas?

1 comment:

  1. Pat,

    When I first read the French text -- for I wouldn't fathom the Arabic writing, alas -- I thought of something like "I had spent so much gold, only to find writing at last". The comma here stands for the separation of lines corresponding to the two verses, which sort of rhyme ("depensé" and "trouver"). But how can we see the different lines in the Arabic writing? That's a problem M. Metoui may solve for us.

    But indeed writing, not unlike love, can be pure gold.