What a vulgar little people we are, us Dutch. So plainly utilitarian. How Romantic the Brits, or at least how would-be Romantic…
They call this indispensable companion of the bricoleur, the tool of carpenters and cabinet makers, a spirit level.
This sounds like the right name for your writer, who as a carpenter knows that the bookshelves he is making for a friend will carry works filled with sublime thoughts and intense poetry.
The bookcase ready
The intuition of matter…
Within itself the instrument contains a little brother, used to measure wood in small corners as to their being on the level. At the sight of this miniature version sentimental thoughts fill a bricoleur’s breast.
Its Dutch name merely describes the tool’s function for the craftsman. The name, however, is also spiced with a little metaphor befitting a people originating from their lifelong fight against the sea and smaller waters. Waterpas is what we call it, indicating a piece of wood being level with the water’s surface.
We Dutch, we are so down to earth, mixed up in the nitty gritty of everyday life – a watery people, always busy, busy with dikes, canals and pumps. Afraid of the liquid, as if it were the Devil in disguise.
On their sturdy chalk rocks The Brits have no inkling of such fears, always in search of higher heavens, painting sky scapes and creating Romantic poetry of an almost Germanic Sehnsucht.
The great Dutch painters did paint magnificent skies and quite nicely so. Yet, a terra firma always supports these expanses. Only a Brit like Constable could confine a painting to pure sky and clouds as such.
Constable: Cloud Study
It were the Scots who created an unassuming philosophical empiricism. Perhaps their mountains were too rugged to feel safe and happy in those skies – not chalky enough. To a Dutchie the Scots feel more like kinsmen.
Brits were perhaps too much of mixed blood, rather like bastards. They may subsequently have lost their Southern frivolity inherited from the French, yet all the more they long for it. Always seeking the Mediterranean atmosphere, either to find poetry out there or, as tourist, to be saved from puritanical afflictions.
Spirit level – a delicious couple of words.
Sierksma, Montmorillion, 24.8/2015