Others have bad taste

Posted on Jan 26, 2023, 4:30 PM

Obviously bad taste is often in others. However, what Nicolas d’Estienne d’Orves says “NEO” gives us in the 500 pages and 211 entries of his “Dictionary of love with bad taste” often corresponds to us. This hilarious book is above all a merciless journey into the land of our shortcomings, our ridiculousness. Sometimes the author is not necessarily cruel. Does he have the right to shamelessly trample on the memory of our first Drugstore Publicis banana split by sending out the famous “cocktail umbrella” of a tyrant: “Perfect example of food futility, economic waste and systemic ugliness”? Also by what right does Mr. d’Estienne d’Orves make fun of this important contribution to the misunderstanding of the French language inclusive writing? Although it must be recognized that his rewriting of the Albatross is worth its weight in wokism: “Often, for fun, the men and women of the crew …”.

Chihuahuas, those “arm dogs”.

Apart from these two important points, we follow the author with glee in the land of his bad taste, which he readily admits is subjective. Owners of Chihuahuas, these “long arms” don’t necessarily appreciate the picture he paints of them: “Half-kids, half-animals, Chihuahuas and other Yorkies are the furry, mossy and very convenient replacement for babies. Above all, they “require less effort” than the latter. In the bistro we “put under the bench” these animals are considered “dolls”: “Here is our dog panting under the hood, foaming in the gloves, suffocated by a woolen corset”, these “clothes” that make them “ugly” . Suffice it to say that NEO can put a cross on fifty million friends

Some people also take it for their ranking, in the article “nose ring” for example: “Singular bovine remanence, offbeat homage to The Laughing Cow or a nod to the slave of humanity? The entry “Botox” links to “obsession with body repair” of “hybrid beings who neither smile nor blink” in concern to consign death to the junkyard. Aren’t we parking our elders in “distant places of death” , strong in the “guilty satisfaction of knowing that they are ‘in good hands'”? There, without a doubt, is the height of bad taste. Along with the real departure of the elders, false comparisons are also sulphed by our taste rectifier: “People suddenly lose their last name, falling into the comfortable and childlike anonymity of the first name. As if obstacles could easily “fall”! Moreover, “social mixing is a chimera”. In the military service, the “ultimate place of the social cocktail” has undoubtedly disappeared.

Selfies in front of Samothrace

These considerations fall uniquely under the heading “Gas Station Stores”. Our author considers, in fact, that they constitute “one of the last crossings between all types of population”. Rich and poor, happy and miserable, French and foreign, all pass the highway. Seen good. And, of course, the height of misfortune, the true harmony of the species is celebrated in a temple of bad taste: “Everything seems artificial, from these sandwiches with an unlikely taste, cut into triangles and covered with blisters, in these books we have not seen for twenty years. Guides to fauna and flora; directories of field birds; calendars of previous years; topographic maps of the removed region…”

Since we are talking about shops, the Louvre also has the right to the writer’s anger: “Mitterand’s pharaohism has turned the world’s largest museum into a cultural mall where you can now take selfies in front of of Samothrace before turning around to buy perfume, a Bose speaker or a Bobun. We bet that the surveyors of these alleys, the “makers” of the country, as they “make” gasoline, will find themselves at the entrance of “Comfortable clothing”. Goodbye to corsets, jackets, sock clips, of course, but why go to the “opposite of the bank”? “From the hardness of the past is born the softness of the present”, the shapeless, the flexible, the soft…

The “organic lefevrists”

We love its formulas, like the vegans, the “organic religious lefevrists”, these “refrigerator dictators”, the “vegetable garden inquisitors”. However, the icon breaker is getting stronger. Pan on the passage in Catherine Millet: “The narrator is to Anaïs Nin what Maubeuge is to a field of tulips.” Regarding the treatment of “Les Tontons flingueurs” as “a pleasant B-series pochade raised to the rank of a masterpiece” and “Belle du Seigneur” as a “paragon of mellifluous lyricism” and “(excellent) stylistic marshmallow”, let him boldly abandon responsibility for his words. And let’s just ask: does he taste bad to you? One thing is certain. Depriving yourself would be a real sin. Disgusting.

Bad Taste Lovers Dictionary

by Nicolas d’Estienne d’Orves. Plon Editions, 608 pages, 26.50 euros.

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