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Leviticus 247/84: It's Gratitudinal Journaling ... M Jourdain!

My Blogging officially recognised. The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships reports that gratitudinal journaling i.e. positive thoughts shared with family and friends on a regular basis, not least in lockdown or shielding, is truly beneficial to mental health*. And it's not just the positivity of the thoughts shared but the endeavour that must necessarily be invested in order to journalise them. The research team has missed one other important benefit for mental health accruing to the sharees by the absence from negative thoughts or nagging or contrary actions of the journalist. What is most gratifying of course is that we had scarcely understood how much mental health benefit was being accomplished. We bear comparison with M. Jourdain in Molière's Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme who had never realised "he spoke prose".

In Tesco's M.DC.LXXXVIII [1688] Molière penned his comedie ballet for the French King's enjoyment.

Monsieur Jourdain, le personnage principal de la pièce de Molière, n’est pas un bourgeois gentilhomme; c’est un bourgeois qui rêve de devenir un gentilhomme, c’est-à-dire un noble, et qui est prêt à tout pour y parvenir. Monsieur Jourdain n’aime pas ce qu’il est, il méprise son statut social. Toutes ses énergies sont dépensées à se nier lui-même, à se faire passer pour ce qu’il n’est pas, parce que le grand Autre, la noblesse, objet de tous ses fantasmes, incarne, à ses yeux, tout ce qu’il chérit.

La noblesse, objet de tous ses fantasmes … se faire passer pour ce qu’il n’est pas …. careful now, does that not seem a familiar aspiration to the feudal Baronial Halls and Courts of Prestoungrange, Dolphinstoun and Lochnaw at The Gothenburg? Peut-être? The 15th of Prestoungrange famously remarked "it's naff to acquire but elegant to inherit."
It's too good a tale not to recount, positively!
The play takes place at M. Jourdain's house in Paris. He's middle-aged bourgeois whose father grew rich as a cloth merchant. The foolish M. Jourdain now has one aim in life - to rise above this middle-class background and be accepted as an aristocrat. He orders splendid new clothes and is very happy when the tailor's boy mockingly addresses him My Lord. He applies himself to learning the gentlemanly arts of fencing, dancing, music and philosophy despite his age; in doing so he continually manages to make a fool of himself to the disgust of his hired teachers. His philosophy lesson becomes a basic lesson on language in which he is surprised and delighted to learn that he has been speaking prose all his life without knowing it. Par ma foi! Il y a plus de quarante ans que je dis de la prose sans que j'en susse rien, et je vous suis le plus obligé du monde de m'avoir appris cela. [Gracious me! For more than forty years I've been speaking prose while not realising it and I am the most obliged person in the world to you for telling me so.]
Madame Jourdain, his intelligent wife, sees he is making a fool of himself and urges him to return to his previous middle-class life, and forget all he has learned. A cash-strapped nobleman called Dorante has attached himself to M. Jourdain. He secretly despises Jourdain but flatters his aristocratic dreams by telling Jourdain that he has mentioned his name to the King at Versailles hoping he can get Jourdain to pay his debts. Jourdain's dreams of becoming upper-class go higher and higher with dreams of marrying a Marchioness, Dorimène, and having his daughter Lucille marry a nobleman. But of course Lucille is in love with the middle-class Cléonte and M. Jourdain inevitably refuses his permission for Lucille to marry Cléonte. So subterfugal flattery is required and Cléonte, with the assistance of his valet Covielle and Mme Jourdain, disguises himself and is presented to M. Jourdain as the son of the Sultan of Turkey. Jourdain is impressed and delighted to have his daughter marry foreign royalty. He is even more delighted when this Turkish Prince informs him that, as father of the bride, he too will be officially ennobled at a special ceremony. The play ends with this ridiculous ceremony!
Four Smiling Faces at Breakfast. I had occasion to return the plastic Bakewell Tart container to the Manor House at 9.30am. I place a pink post-it slip inside saying how delicious it is/ was as asking for new supplies asap. Normally I can simply place it atop the upside down Wellies they keep outside their back door but this morning I was espied and Baron Dolphinstoun opened the door to me. Inside sat Les Gentilhommes Henry Yr. of Dolphinston and Elliot Yr. of Lochnaw with Lady Dolphinstoun. They were all smiling radiantly at me as Elliot gleefully announced all the Bakewell Tart was now gone and he'd just finished eating it. But it was a positive moment and here in my gratitudinal journaling I wish to record how those four large smiles set the day on a splendid highway. That notwithstanding that PM we visited the Eye Centre at Dane's Camp for Avril's routine checkup [with need for one jab next Wednesday] but in the certain knowledge that this evening is Dining In Night at which, since I am traditionally and necessarily cast as Head Chef, I shall be serving Salmon Pâte followed by Cassoulet with Spinach with a concluding amuse bouche Citrus Tart. I must also record here that my excitement was raised further on reading in the Daily Telegraph this morning that Sauvignon Semillon from Western Australia was on offer at Tesco's until mid-February, home there to the famed Wills Domaine [Blog 29/84]. Whilst Avril was in the Eye Testing Centre I headed there and acquired ample supplies as well as some 0% Gordon's Gin, Schweppes Tonic and 0% Sauvignon White. As a result Avril's Dining-In was preceded at cocktail hour by her first Gin & Tonic for many a year; mine was a much loved Campari & Russchian. … and thus we can conclude this gratitudinal journal ….

* Further insights from The Gratitude Project which explores 'How the Science of Thankfulness Can Rewire Our Brains for Resilience, Optimism, and the Greater Good'.

Published Date: January 23rd 2021

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