Sunday, June 2, 2013


Here I was, sitting at a table on Castle Hill while the city was being bombed below us, in the company of a madman who was once a friend of my husband’s.

But it didn’t feel bad.

It never did when I was with him.

Gently, as if talking to a madman, I asked why he thought that olives, of the kind I had actually eaten some time in past in a small Italian restaurant in that part of London known as Soho, were destined to play such an important part in my current and possibly future life.

He listened to me carefully, his head slightly tipped to one side, and looked,

“Because that culture is over, “he said in friendly, patient manner.

“Everything we considered to be culture is done for. The olive was just once small element of many flavors that made up that culture.

All these little sparks of flavor, these individual delights and wonders, worked together to produce the marvelous feast we call taste.

Taste is an aspect of culture, and it’s all vanishing.

It will vanish even if elements of it remain.

They may still be selling olives stuffed with pimientos somewhere in the future, but the class that cultivated the taste for it and understood what it meant will have vanished.

There will remain only the knowing about it, which is not the same thing.

Culture is experience, I say, it is living experience, timeless as sunshine.

To know about things is to know merely secondhand. It is like wearing secondhand clothes.”

~ Sandor Marai ~ Portraits of a Marriage ~


  1. To know about things is to know merely secondhand, indeed. It's a mistake people make too often, don't they?

  2. I agree on your thoughts for Culture experience...its not a ride that you experience you got to live it and feel it.
    Beautiful thought.