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Showing posts from April 17, 2016

give me corks or give me death

M F K Fisher was a great observer of the rituals that gather around meals. Here she is about drinking wine in France, which she first encountered in 1929: “Drawing the cork is a great ceremony--waiters cluster around the wine-master, and the man who has ordered it listens anxiously to see if the pop sounds right. Then the cork is waved under his nose, and he sniffs it loudly. Finally the wine is poured, still in the cradle, into his glass, and he sips it slowly and with the most amazing noises. The waiters and the wine-master watch his face to see if he likes it, and finally go away.” This is funny and ethnographically accurate, for its time. The funny part, of course, for Americans, is the fuss. At the time, and even now, the middle class American norm is to separate food and drink – which is good or bad, and served in large or small quantities – from how it is delivered. Yet oddly, no people on earth have ever devoted more ingenuity to packaging and photographing food. Incredibl

the case against Clinton for beginners

I, too, find the Clinton supporters puzzling. They are very, hyper-conscious of the incidents in the campaign, and yet surprisingly blank about what they want from Clinton as president. For instance, what kind of foreign policy do Clinton supporters want? Clinton’s experience – which is often touted as, simply, experience – is best exemplified here, as far as I can tell. As a senator from 2000 to 2008, I don’t see a lot of leadership on the issues of that dirty time. She seems to have been a standard Daschle democrat, and Daschle was one of the most feckless dem politicians ever to grace the national stage. Her stamp, however, seems very strong on the foreign policy of the Obama administration in its first three years. I think she is very proud of what she did. She’s proud of the overthrow of Qaddafi, she’s proud of the weapon sales to the Gulf states, and she’s proud of trying to push Obama to do a Libya like intervention in Syria – as she pointed out in the last debate. She

letters to a young plumber

In one of the famous “Letters to a Young Poet “, which Rilke wrote when he was merely 28, he gives this advice: “You ask whether your verses are any good. You ask me. You have asked others before this. You send them to magazines. You compare them with other poems, and you are upset when certain editors reject your work. Now (since you have said you want my advice) I beg you to stop doing that sort of thing. You are looking outside, and that is what you should most avoid right now. No one can advise or help you - no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, sim