Of Green Faeries...

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Ahhh... The inspiration of poets, artists and writers.

Nothing like spending an evening of good discussion, with great friends, over a cloudy glass or two of Absinthe.

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

Green Fairy: The symbol of liberté

From: Absinthe Fever a fantastic online site dedicated to the enjoyment and history of Absinthe

Fairy In Green By Derek Brewster

The Green Fairy is the English translation of La Fee Verte, the affectionate French nickname given to the celebrated absinthe drink in the nineteenth century. The nickname stuck, and over a century later, "absinthe" and "Green Fairy" continue to be used interchangeably by devotees of the potent green alcohol. Mind you, absinthe earned other nicknames, too: poets and artists were inspired by the "Green Muse"; Aleister Crowley, the British occultist, worshipped the "Green Goddess". But no other nickname stuck as well as the original, and many drinkers of absinthe refer to the green liquor simply as La Fee - the Fairy.

The symbol of transformation

But Green Fairy isn't just another name for absinthe: she is a metaphorical concept of artistic enlightenment and exploration, of poetic inspiration, of a freer state of mind, of new ideas, of a changing social order. To the ignorant drunk, absinthe will forever remain but potent alcohol, perhaps with a bit of thujone "high" thrown in. To the original bohemians of 1890s Paris, the Fairy was a welcomed symbol of transformation. She was the trusted guide en-route to artistic innovativation; she was the symbol of thirst (for life) to Arthur Rimbaud, the first "punk poet": it was the Fairy who guided him -- and his fellow poet and partner Paul Verlaine -- on their quest to escape the conventional reality of their time into the sanctuary of the surreal.
Transformation has always been the fundamental essence of the Green Fairy, for transformation is what she provides on several parallels. During the magical ritual of la louche, the drink itself first transforms from the concentrated, alcohol-rich, deep emerald green liquor into an alluring opalescent, cloudy greenish-white mixture. This, of course, is symbolic of the subsequent transformation that shall take place in the drinker's mind. As the cool water liberates the power of wormwood oil and the other herbal ingredients from the green concentrate, so will new ideas, concepts and notions be set free in the mind of the drinker -- be he a poet, an artist, a scientist, or the common man on the street.
Apparently so, anyway.

The goddess of artistic rebellion

Is the above a fanciful, perhaps absinthe-induced :-) description of the powers of the Fairy? Let the reader -- or perhaps the drinker -- decide for himself. Let there be no doubt, however, that the turn of the last two centuries produced art, poetry and ideas that were, for their time, shockingly original, rebellious and challenging to the extreme. This was the time of Rimbaud and Verlaine, who pursued their quest of challenging convention whenever they came across it. Their antics caused outrage across Europe at the time, but their ingenious poetry -- a reflection of their search for the true meaning of life -- remains with us to this day.
Inspiring and liberating, the Green Fairy was a powerful symbol of the avant-garde elite that gathered in Parisian cafes at the turn of the last two centuries. In this sense, the Fairy was what pot later became to the hippie subculture of the 1960s. In her company -- or under her influence -- Belle Epoque writers and artists became lucid commentators on an emerging new world. With the stroke of a brush or a pen, they experimented, they rebelled, they provoked, and so they successfully subverted the stuffy conventions of the time.


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