Saturday, October 13, 2012

Saturday commute lxix: what to read

  Living in the country, the 
  sociable, the game, and the
  primed and motivated qual-
  ities which lend themselves
  to fluent interactions are
  not always in play, where
  population, itself, is an
  abstraction. The same cap-
  abilities which bring them-
  selves to an afternoon swim
  are with us as we scan our
  library shelves with an eye
  for how to seize the day.

  I don't suppose this is al-
  ways understood by people as
  they sit down to write our
  books. I think the writers
  who are the most attuned to
  this, are our satirists.
  They realise, their impro-
  visation is a contraption
  for deflecting this paradox.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

October pivot

        there has not been
        a more absurd or bi-
        laterally evasive elec-
        We've seen this much:
        there is one Party which
        does not want a nation in
        this land, and another which
        is unable to admit its neglect.

  red mug, blue linen is 
  not a public policy page, 
  but even we can see this 
  sideshow as the restaurant
  that it is.

        the world is full
        enough of restaur-
        ant critics, osten-
        sible food enthus-
        iasts who feed the
        their strangest
        dire necessities.
        It is the same in
        the displacements
        of our politics.
        But you knew that.

        So who will come and
        tell us that the truth
        of Pinot Noir is in our
        power to erase, and we
        are doing it?


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A new electoral day

Our prince of panic in the post-
debate commentary in the Presid-
ential campaign, Andrew Sullivan
of the Oxford Union and The Daily
Beast, has declared not merely
the incumbent's betrayal of his
noble cause, but the death of it
because of his unique position.

Andrew has always needed to be
the firstest with the mostest, 
and this has sometimes been sal-
utary, as in his demand for mar-
ital equality, and silly, as in 
his announcement of the end of
AIDS. We shall have to take un-
der history's advisement, what
combination of uses his present
panic might serve; but it seems
fair to look elsewhere, for vic-

Plainly, we are in the midst of
a new battlefield, calling - it
seems, to any rational observer -
for a new battle plan. The chal-
lenger is no longer occupying the
ground of the callow liar, the 
lecher of mammon, and the shrill
shill of the sanctimonious Right.
Very well. Is there time to defeat
him as the simple assurance that
he is, of greater and greater ex-
tremes of middle-class impoverish-
ment and the betrayal of civil 

It was intellectually arrogant
to mock the new darling of the
soccer moms, for harrowing Big
Bird; and intellectual arrogance
is the infamous residual resort of
the President's Party since (bless
his heart) Adlai Stevenson limned
modesty in lust, against a smiling
warlord of Main Street. The Presi-
dent, should he care to rejoin the
battle, needs to accept it in its
new terms. Simply put, his is the
securest path to brighter financial
prospects for the ninety-nine per
cent: the path of John F. Kennedy,
of a little inflation for a lot of
stimulation. To a culture where
nothing but slights are remembered,
this can sound positively thrilling.
But it takes the blind faith of Rand-
ian oppression and stands it on its
head: if it is true that an imbalance
in revenue can cure the deficit by
expanding the economy, let's go for
it, by the path we know will work.

We'll always have Dukakis. Why not
a happy warrior, for fairness' sake?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

My favourite clothespin viii: possibly a vessel

  Aeschylus Melville Chaucer Schiller
  Goethe Plato Fitzgerald Racine Ovid
  Shakespeare Shakespeare Shakespeare
  Virgil Sophocles Eliot Clare Cavafy

  What was the last suggestion -
  there was time to pass along -


i  Benjamin Eidem

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The palate as a growing region

    part of an

.. we had dined marvelously well
on a pâté de foie gras en brioche
among other things, and now we sat
complacently at our ease.
Buô Dinh crouched behind a huge cigar and fingered a jade bead in his pocket. Al and I shared a glass of Alsatian quetschwasser, harsh and clear. Franz Mayen, very sar-
donic and entertaining, peered at us and talked ceaselessly as always.
"Yes," he was saying, "I have seen the last virgin woman truffle hunter in all France! I am probably -no, certainly- unique, for I was but five or six when it happened, and a little boy among old men. It was a secret hunt - "

"By moonlight, of course?" one of us enquired, smoothly.

"Ah, no!" Mayen was unruffled as a bowl of cream. 

"Naturally it was held in the white sunlight of the south - a Van Gogh sun, a French Midi sun. And we had gathered secretly because the Church was opposed to women truffle hunters. The idea of an old virgin sniffing over the hills, with a pack of men hot at her heels - it is disgusting to the Church, it is - you understand me? - pagan!"

"So this was to be the last hunt, with the only woman left alive who had the truffle nose. She was old, very old, and she was - yes, unquestionably - she was a virgin! And, mon Dieu, mon Dieu, but what a nose! It was long, most pointed, red at the tip. It quivered.

We started off at a hill far from the church, I lagging behind on my little legs, but very curious. We walked until I was panting. The old maid went ahead. Finally she stopped. She lifted her formidable nose, red and quivering, into the hot air. We all watched."

"Then she was off, and it was hard to follow her, I can tell you. She ran like a demented soul straight through the underbrush, over ditches, up a steep hill. There she stopped, in a barren clearing around an old oak tree. She pointed to the ground at her feet. The men dug with their blunt forks. Sure enough, truffles!"

"She started away, stopped suddenly, and pointed down. More truffles! And all the time she was trembling and sniffing like a sick dog. Finally she stood still, and her nose grew pale. She stopped shivering, and looked very old and weary. The hunt was over. When we got home, the best truffles were sent to Lyons, and the rest we chopped up and cooked with eggs into a kind of omelette."

Mayen pulled at his cigarette, and added disgustedly: "Of course it is too bad! My one chance to eat enough truffles to see if they really are exciting - and I was only six!"

M.F.K. Fisher
Serve it Forth
  I arise resigned
North Point Press
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1989©