Monday, February 4, 2013

The Princess Will Forever Be in Another Castle

Call it a testament to Mario’s mettle: He passed through seven of the wrong castles before he at last found that princess he was looking for.

And this all went down back in the 80s, when she still went by the less-than-regal named Toadstool, so really who knew what Mario was going to find in that last dungeon? A spuming fungal bloom? Some nightmarish mushroom with gender-specific genitalia? Fortunately for Mario, she ended up being a pixelly, kid-friendly babe with Farrah hair, but he did a bad job of keeping her close by. She’d be forever removed to some far-off corner of the world, even though he presumably hopped through the entire world in every previous adventure. She got the joke.

I feel like he didn’t, based on his irrepressible enthusiasm. It turns out there’s a word for this whole situation.
princesse lointaine (PRIN-sess LWAN-tayn) — noun: an ideal but unattainable woman.
Translated from French, it’s “distant princess,” which makes sense enough, if you consider it in the contest of dungeon-hopping and damsels imprisoned in towers. But A.Word.A.Day explains that we have this as a literary trope — or, really, a real-life trope, depending on your lifestyle choices — thanks to Edmond Rostand, who wrote Cyrano de Bergerac but also La Princesse Lointaine, a play about Jaufre Rudel. Now that I read the Wikipedia page on Rudel, it’s clear he was some kind of stalker, but I suppose that to a hopeless stalker, the desired woman might as well be locked away in some tower, guarded by a dragon who suggests “Dude, come on — just move on.”

If we get down to it, I’d guess that Mario spends most of his extra lives overcoming lines like “Thanks — really, thanks! — but I think I need some me time after all this. So okay bye.”

Previous words of the week after the jump.

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