Sunday, March 30, 2008

The metaphor of the perfect rose

David Seaton's News Links
A florist once told me a story that may or not be true, but strikes me as a rich metaphor or political Zen koan to meditate upon.

I was buying a rose to take to the hostess of a party and I was looking at the long stemmed "perfect roses". On choosing one I leaned over to smell it. "It doesn't smell at all!" I said. "Those roses never have any smell" she replied, "but I can fix that, if you want."

"How?", I asked.

"With this spray" she said, holding up an aerosol can and giving the rose a psssssssssssst. The smell was heavenly.

"Is that artificial?" I asked.

"Absolutely not! It's made from genuine roses" she said.

"Huh?", I inquired.

"The spray is made from taking thousands and thousands of ugly, little roses that smell just like roses are supposed to smell and crushing and pressing them for their essence to put it into these cans, so that these 'perfect' roses can also smell nice", she explained. "The 'perfect' roses are very expensive and the roses that actually smell like roses are very cheap, ...I think they come from somewhere in Asia."

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On reflection it seemed to me that, in the story of the roses, the florist had revealed some "life principal" to me. I don't want to milk it to death, so I'll just leave it to my readers to draw their own conclusions from it... if it strikes any chords... or nerves in them. What kind of rose am I, are you? DS

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

My wife was a florist for 17 years. The rose metaphor is good to a point. You can buy hot house roses from vendors on the side of the road prior to Valentine’s Day, or Mother’s Day, or what ever Hallmark Day is in season. These are the cheap one’s form South America. Bred for looks and the long stem. [An economic disaster for California flower growers].

There is a rose farm nearby. Heirloom Roses by name. It is to die for. Acres of color. Ancients to the latest hybrid. Root stock too. There is nothing to compare to sticking your nose into a rose bloom. The ephemeral smell, if there is one, will make you peck at the bloom like a chicken for feed. Price seems to have little to do with the smell or beauty of a rose bloom. Rarity however…

I think that most of our perceptions are image based. Some roses are bred, hybridized, for appearance. The fragrance of the parents is sometimes bred out over time. Other roses are bred for their fragrance. Except for the most egregious circumstances, a pig farm for example, or, more pleasantly, the Daphne, we see before we smell.

That is why American politics has/had [?] a Mitt Romney. He comes from pioneer stock. People who risked everything to be able to live as they wished. But he has been hybridized. His principles are not rooted very deep. He looks good on TV. He has a symmetrical face. But once you start the smell test, well, buyer beware. Unless of course, you only want the image.

As to your question about who we are; We are flawed. There is no perfect anything. We keep hoping and hybridizing. I think we look too closely. [No one wants to be deceived]. This is the flaw in our perception of all things. [Aren’t the Persian rug makers believed to weave in a mistake, as nothing human can be perfect]? Is lipstick on a pig the other side of this rose metaphor coin?

And then again, there’s too good to be true. I’m an Abraham Darby.

kalsang said...

What a depressing story! Neither incredible beauty nor lovely sensuality is enough for us now. We crush the scented roses to produce canned scent with which to spray the forced red roses, grown with enough chemicals to rot the hands of the field workers, by the way. I'd rather receive an honest, real dandelion than one of these doubly artificial floral products. Ugh!

kalsang said...

What a depressing story! Neither incredible beauty nor lovely sensuality is enough for us now. We crush the scented roses to produce canned scent with which to spray the forced red roses, grown with enough chemicals to rot the hands of the field workers, by the way. I'd rather receive an honest, real dandelion than one of these doubly artificial floral products. Ugh!

Anonymous said...

There's nothing dishonest about a sweet-smelling "ugly" rose. I wonder how they TASTE (i.e., rosehips)

Kirthi said...

poor ugly unwanted roses. I would buy them for sure over the pretty ones, i prefer scent.

this is such a sad story, thank you for sharing it.