Sunday, September 7, 2014

Is taste a human right iii

  Am I alone in resorting to prose
  from the kitchen, when I wish to
  experience clarity? I wasn't dis-
  paraging Philosophy, the other
  day, in cautioning against claim-
  ing too much for it; pleasure and
  clarity may be acquainted but en-
  joy their independence. So, too,
  the other muses, seldom unself-
  interested enough to afford that
  suspension of argument, which I
  take to be a principal property
  of clarity as I recognize it. I
  listen to my dog, lapping fresh
  water from his porcelain after an
  outing; and to internalise this     harmony, I read of well-tem-
  pered endive in Elizabeth David.

She has a genius very different, I think, from the mis-exalted acts of arousing hunger, of propounding rules, consoling vanities, and inspiring ambitions. Hers is for extruding the impacted impulses of gratitude, in a natural solicitude for the inherent blessings of in-gredients. Hers is the wonder of 
an innocent for clarity.

I think, to celebrate her famously unintimidated opinions, much less to embrace them as some acolyte, is to misrepresent the fundamental composure which lies at their root, as a compost of questions laid not merely to rest, but to illuminate. Is this even about food?

              Thus when Galileo speaks of the alphabet,
              he means a combinatory system capable of
              representing everything in the universe.
              Here too we see him introducing the com-
              parison with painting:  the combination
              of the letters .. is the equivalent of
              mixing colours on the palette. It is
              clear that this is a combinatory system
              of a different order [from others] .. a
              combination of objects which are already 
              endowed with meaning .. cannot represent
              all of of reality; in order to achieve 
              this one needs to turn to a combinatory 
              system of minimal elements such as pri-
              mary colours or the letters ..

   And when we get home,
   there will be bright,
   fair music to imbibe.

Italo Calvino
Why Read the Classics?
  The Book of Nature
  in Galileo
Martin McLaughlin
Jonathan Cape, 1999©

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