Brushes with Culture

This is a space where I can reflect on the many fascinating things that I experience. Some of the things I brush with are Culture with a capital C. Others are just intriguing moments. Sometimes I am brushing with these moments in a hurry. This is a chance to relive those moments in tranquility. These are the stories I tell myself in those quieter moments.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Evolution in Floristry

I have a new friend and his moniker is "The Arch Materialist". This, because he embraces Richard Dawkins and Dan Dennett, and by extension, I suppose, Charles Darwin himself too, with the kind of passion I've not seen since I left the roboticists behind at Sussex some years ago. (It's kind of nice to be back thinking about GAs, CAs, ANNs and so on, but he's such a new friend that I've not really broached this level of detail. So far we've only argued about the nature of reality.) So, not materialist in any Sunday Telegraph sense or because of his shopping habits, of which I know nothing as yet.

I mention this because, having given him a name that he was not wholly displeased with, I demanded one of my own. And in that lazy way that very clever people have of avoiding hard work, he borrowed where I had created.

Some weeks ago, when my sister was playing at considering alternatives to being an incredibly important person at a large public broadcasting corporation, she suggested 'chaos floristry' as a profession. This immediately appealed to me as an answer to the precise effetism that is Ikebana and its like. As a family we have perfected the 'trim-the-stems-and-toss-them-in-a-vase chic that is the equivalent to getting out of bed and not brushing one's hair for that just-got-out-of-bed look. Suddenly, it had a name.

Then I was made to think of it when I was talking at the weekend to a whole group of passionate scientists of whom "The Arch Materialist" was only one. We were talking about "Time Flu". Now, I can't remember for the life of me what Time Flu is, but at the time it was wonderful and quite significant enough to me to say that I would blog it, along with the Chaos Floristry theme, when I was next at a keyboard long enough. Which I am now.

But things have moved on...

I’ve been thinking of you as the chaos florist. But am prepared to devote some little time to coming up with an alternative.
he wrote when challenged to provide a suitable handle. Cunning. Put like that. I would have felt churlish to request that he uninvest the effort required to have thought of me at all. So my sister has lost her fall-back career and I am now "The Chaos Florist".

Which I was explaining to a longer-standing friend - the one that once almost had that encounter with David Tennant (and, yes, I will be missing the first of the new series of Doctor Who to go to Norfolk, although it's rumoured that there are televisions there).

And for her, chaos floristry evoked the festoons of flowers that erupt when there's a tragedy. Like Princess Di... or a traffic accident by a railing...

And that was interesting, because I had started to wonder how far different a chaos florist might be from a chaos architect. An architect of choas... But surely florists have such a limited domain that what might otherwise be havoc is merely a stem or two gone haywire. Stochastic stamens. Sepals without a cause.

Anyway, it is clearly an evocative term. And now it's mine, all mine...

As a footnote, the DTP rolls on... The man was modelling clothes in the Guardian a couple of weeks ago.


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