all about the g

One of the things that is a very interesting thing to know is how you are feeling inside you to the words that are coming out to be outside of you.

Do you always have the same kind of feeling in relation to the sounds as the words come out of you or do you not.

- Gertrude Stein


I've been thinking about the word gentil for the past few days. I remember the first time I was being told, c'est gentil - I was stunned by the tenderness it harnessed. It is completely removed from its so-called direct translation, as there is nothing more off putting than 'nice' (unless it is being exclaimed in a subversive, heroic manner. And in any case, it seems to me that there are ways in which one can be truly gentil and undoubtedly not-nice, and vice versa). The utter onomatopoeia caught me off guarded, as if - coming from the outside of me, going right in to my inside - I had a fraction of a meeting with the signified, not the signifier.


I saw 'Un Air de Famille' this week. It is really, really good. And when that word is being expressed throughout the film, it is crystal clear that it's being held as a defining quality in a man's character. "Elle a de la chance, Betty. Il est gentil, Denis".

That, and the fact that the dude danse bien, bien sûr.