“I’d rather view a corpse than an artificial flower.”
Decades ago, having read that quote, (author unknown) I thought it odd, glib, even morbid.
In a contest between a corpse and an artificial flower, the corpse reigns supreme?
The meaning of the statement can be applied far beyond the simple components – ‘corpse’ and ‘artificial flower.’
Here, they serve perfectly for points of discussion.
An artificial flower: imitation of a living flower, the essence of a natural flower, a stand-in for longevity.
When I read the quote decades ago, flowers were plastic and wire and a poor copy of living, fragrant flowers. They looked cheap, manufactured, pitiful. They smelled like plastic and lasted for as long as the dust could be washed off if their limited colors didn’t fade. They were placed by gravesites, in permanent arrangements at home and even in public gardens. The artificial flowers were a small indicator of a very large lust for longevity.
Though we see the hopeful creation of real flowers essence in paper, silk, ribbon, fabrics, more delicate plastics and other materials of the art-ificial flower art-ist, there is no equal for a living or even a cut, dying, genuine flower.
The volatile components of a real flower, incomparable, the optical spectrum, brilliant. Bees and birds dance on real flowers, our sense of touch, should we so wish to summon it, evokes delicate, unequaled perfection on our fingertips. Wind moves flowers, shuffles the leaves, immersing us in a glistening hush.
What of the child who sees in the dandelion, flower or seed head, the love of Mother? The child selects the living flower, crushes the stem with eager little hand and offers the gift? The flower becomes more than a living thing, more than a dying thing, and is further saturated by love.
How, then, does a corpse become more remarkable than an artificial flower? In all cases, the corpse, having once lived, all the fragility, beauty, strength, uniqueness and complexity of a human being parallels the simple, natural flower. No artificial flower could be nearly as memorable as a life, of any kind.