As you enter the southern parterre of Chateau Versailles, you pass between two marble sphinxes, on the back of each, a bronze cupid, one with the hand stretched out motions you to slow down, the other with his index tells you that now and here is all that matters.
To put it otherwise, make haste slowly and remember that only this moment exists. I did slow my jogging and took a closer look at the cherubs. How they annoy me! It’s not their wisdom, I have profound respect for what the antiquity has to say. Perhaps it’s the medium of bronze on marble, or the posture. This little guy looks like he is about to fall down. But I know he is going to be alright, those wings will hold him. Wait, it’s the sphinxes, they are too small for the cupids… and the Court of Versailles latest hairdo does not belong on a monster… What bothers me is this, they are simply out of place yet I cannot articulate my frustration.
There is something in this corner of the Chateau…; yes, I finally got it, it’s those statues on the wall. Look up at the facade!
They summarize the aesthetics of the century: art and nature; art holds the hammer and chisel ready to sculpt, while the nature girl tweaks her nipples. This is a baroque fertility figure, very baroque and very natural with its slip from observation past the moral opprobrium: an action observed in nature is seen as perfectly natural and hence should be alright to do.
Then hic et nunc is to be understood as carpe diem, while festina lente adds a new hedonistic flavor to the message: hurry and do it now, but slowly so you could really enjoy it. “Cueillez dès aujourd’hui les roses de la vie.” Inhale the perfume of the rose while it is still in bloom.