I have things "folk" on the brain these days; the mystery of why threads of Romanticism seemed to come undone from our social fabric after the Great War, like the love of the "folk," the simpler life, tradition, and craft. In short, it is harder to see examples of man touching and molding a subject with his very own hands, even if only to make something "naive," not quite "art."
I crave this. I crave the old days when there was the personal touch even in business. I crave listening to the folk, as so many artists of yesteryear did: Rilke, Kandinsky, to name just two - honouring folk in that way. But are there any "folk" left? Or do you feel like we are all teaching each other how to live, as if from scratch?
So let us start talking about the subject: what makes something feel like home, what makes it our own? Anthropology, for one, teaches us that we struggle with strangeness and making things our own, by having our own hand in it.
Traces of this can also be seen in language, like in "folk etymology" - when people change words to sound like things they are more familiar with. E.g., the phrase "to curry favour." You may remember the "curry comb" used to brush a horse down from English lit. And favour? It was once "fauvel," which mostly stood for duplicity and conniving thanks to a poem written in 1300, Roman de Fauvel, wherein the rich and powerful debase themselves by "currying fauvel" - stroking the coat of a false leader (an ass!), whose name was an acronym for the seven deadly sins (in French).
Another example of folk etymology, curiously favoured by politicians, is the mistaken interpretation of the Chinese characters used to write "crisis" - taken to stand for "danger" and "opportunity." In an episode of The Simpsons, Lisa comforts a fearful Homer by saying that the Chinese use the same word for crisis and opportunity. Homer says, "Ah, yes, crisitunity."
Today, it may seem that our words are being coined for us: folk etymology not coined by folk, in advertisements, in propaganda. And that's not all that is being minted for us... If our only clown of duplicity - like the jester of yesteryear - is but a cartoon one called Krusty, maybe it's time to think about what kind of folk we are. All it takes is a glance at the seven sins to see where we stand: flattery/pride; greed/gluttony; wrath; inconsistency; envy; and cowardice.
There may not be such a thing as a "crisitunity," but there's always space for a good old-fashioned fasting away of the greed - I see it in myself, too. Just today I realised, is it not enough that I wake up each day in a nice bed, to food, with the rays of sun gently stroking my head? Why do I long for more? And I felt ashamed.
We are the world. We are the folk. Perhaps we have over objectified ourselves - idealised and forgotten about ourselves because we could not live up to the ideal. We are the folk - every day. It seems that to deserve the epithet "folk" we must remember our universal, edifying characteristics, our courage, our respect for those who came before us.