a blog with cultural bulimia.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

I want to know what it feels like to care for something passionately.

"I asked him what it was about orchids that seduced humans so completely that they were compelled to steal them and worship them and try to breed new and specific kinds of them and then be willing to wait for nearly a decade for one of them to flower.
"Oh, mistery, beauty, unknowability, I suppose," he said, shrugging. "Besides, I think the real reason is that life has no meaning. I mean, no obvious meaning. You wake up, ou go to work, you do stuff. I think everybody's always looking for something a little unusual that can preoccupy them and help them pass the time"
The orchid I really wanted to see was Polyrrhiza lindenii, the ghost orchid. (...) The reason was not that i love orchids. I don't even specially like orchids. What I wanted was to see this thing that people were drawn to in such a singular and powerful way. Everyone I was meeting connected to the orchid poaching had circled their lives around some great desire, (...) a desire that then answered questions for them about how to spend their time and their money and who their friends would be and where they would travel and what they did when they got there. It was religion. I wanted to want something as much as people wanted these plants, but it isn't part of my constitution. I think people my age are embarassed by too much enthusiasm and believe too much passion about anything is naive. I suppose I have one unembarassing passion -- I want to know what it feels like to care for something passionately."

from The Orchid Thief : A True Story of Beauty and Obsession by Susan Orlean