mischrysanthemumry - hatred of Chrysanthemums.One of my favorite blogs is the Human Flower Project. Every day there's a new article reporting on some aspect of the importance flowers have in human lives and social structures. Yesterday's entry is about Chrysanthemums, in particular, but also the general attitudes toward flowers - anything, really - on the basis of its rarity or "commonness."
- A word I just made up
There IS such a thing as flower bigotry. Consider pansy disdain and the aspersions cast upon Bradford pear trees, carnations and chrysanthemums. One of our heroes, Pierre Bourdieu, spent many years studying the social and economic structures that underlie such “trivial” opinions. He argued that expressions of taste, even in things as seemingly subjective as flowers, belie an ongoing social struggle. One of the more bonehead—and prevailing—tactics in this culture war is the declared “preference” for things that are rare over things plentiful. The Fall Chrysanthemum Syndrome, if you will.Some of the ones I loathe are:
“The main opposition,” Bourdieu writes in Distinction, “is between the practices designated by their rarity as distinguished,” (what rich and culturally powerful people “like” and do) “and the practices socially identified as vulgar because they are both easy and common.” As chrysanthemums are common come November 1.
Chrysanthemum antipathy is nothing terribly new. In a February 1892 edition of Garden and Forest, C.S. Sargent wrote, “It has been said that the popularity of the Chrysanthemum is on the wane. No doubt, the Japanese varieties have been overdone, but that the Chrysanthemum will ever become unpopular I do not believe. There will rather be a return to a larger variety of types, and many of the old kinds will come into favor. Already we see this.” Just as Bourdieu describes, to be “overdone” is anathema. Cultural salvation may come in the form of the “interesting or unusual” or the revival of “old kinds” that, like homespun blankets or Dedham Pottery, have become hard to find. In fact, banishment from shopping centers seems like a strong indication that these flowers are regaining a whiff of unacceptability, the first painful step on the road to grandeur.
- Chrysanthemums - Too Human, Human Flower Project [links and my emphasis added]
- Azaleas (the white-pink-magenta-red blobs-of-color varieties are common as Dandelions here)
- Dandelions (I exterminate them on sight)
- Forsythia (do not a topiary make)
- Violets (soooo very common)
- Daisies (the earliest flower I remember)
What "common" flowers do you love? Which do you loathe?