Writing my way through the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’ll be using manicules (those pointing finger symbols) to direct your attention to something I’m pondering that delights or interests me. Each entry is somehow related to an unusual, obscure, or simply charming to me word.
F is for…
fandangle – elaborate ornament; nonsense; useless or purely ornamental thing
Word nerd that I am, I keep a running list of words, adding to it whenever I find a new-to-me one that delights me. When I first found fandangle, I suspected somewhere I’d find that it originally meant an ornamental dangle hanging from the end of a hand-held fan. Alas, that wasn’t the case, and in fact, the etymology of the word isn’t known, although there is speculation that it might be somehow related to the Spanish dance called fandango. Still, in pursuit of my original theory, I confess I fell down quite a rabbit hole researching the history of women’s fans, their various iterations and style changes across changing fashion periods. For someone who is definitely not a fashionista, I do find historial fashions fascinating. But part of the joy of falling down rabbit holes is that you never know where you might be led, and my meandering nature delights in that.
Rob Brezsny, Free Will astrologer and author of Pronoia, wrote a horoscope for my sign that read in part:
“We humans have put buttons on clothing for seven millennia. But for a long time these small knobs and disks were purely ornamental — meant to add beauty but not serve any other function. That changed in the 13th century, when our ancestors finally got around to inventing buttonholes. Buttons could then serve an additional purpose, providing a convenient way to fasten garments.
That really delights me for all sorts of reason. I love the invitation to think outside the box, but I also love the reference to buttons as I happen to be quite enamored of them – collecting them and using them in various art expressions. I often switch out boring buttons on clothes, replacing them with those I find more delightful. For several years I was commissioned to create button jewelry, and it was pure delight to hunt down fabulous buttons in fabulous colors to use. That work taught me lots about buttons and deepened my love for them in all their myriad of types. I especially like big art deco Bakelite buttons, moonglows, and fabulously-carved mother-of-pearl buttons. I’m currently working on a project in which a 7-pointed star is a prominent image, and I like keeping this MOP button out to remind me.
Besides being amused by the word fandangle, I’ve allowed myself to hold it as a lens to see my world and wonder. I’m always curious about how people see things – which is one of the reasons I truly love the A-to-Z challenge. So many opportunities to peek in other’s worlds, brains, and ways of seeing and holding the world.
I can look around my home and imagine many people would think it’s filled with fandangles. While I have no deire to dissuade anyone of that opinion, it helps me gain greater clarity on what I think. I want my world filled with beauty, and I have many objects I consider beautiful.
I recemtly discovered the writing of Jeanette Winterson, and I’m currently reading her Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery. I’m moving through it slowly, taking time to ponder each essay, I absolutely agree with what she says:
” I do not believe that art (all art) and beauty are ever separate, nor do I believe that either art or beauty are optional in a sane society. That puts me on the side of what Harold Bloom calls ‘the ecstasy of the privileged moment.’ Art, all art, as insight, as rapture, as transformation, as joy.”
I hold that to be true.
And there you have it. I’ve managed to meander my way from fandangle as useless and/or elaborate ornament to a life philosophy about art and beauty. Bet you didn’t see that coming.
What about you? Are you a fan of fandangles? Know how to fandango? Ever dangle a hand fan from your wrist in a fashion statement? Have something to share about beauty or art? Do tell – you know I love to hear.