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If tragedy is an experience of hyperinvolvement, comedy is an experience of underinvolvement, of detachment.

—Susan Sontag, “Notes on “Camp”“

To a certain extent modern and primitive societies seem thus to derive a sense of their identities negatively. A fifth-century Athenian was very likely to feel himself to be nonbarbarian as much as he positively felt himself to be Athenian. The geographic boundaries accompany the social, ethnic, and cultural ones in expected ways. Yet often the sense in which someone feels himself to be not-foreign is based on a very unrigorous idea of what is “out there,” beyond one’s own territory. All kinds of suppositions, associations, and fictions appear to crowd the unfamiliar space outside one’s own.

—Edward W. Said, Orientalism

We are each what never leaves us, what we never see
the back of
is the self. But what loves us

is at the back, as Eurydice was
escorting him out
without his knowing.

—from “The Outset”, Cristina Davis

To exercise one’s capacities to their fullest extent is to take pleasure in one’s own existence, and with sociable creatures, such pleasures are proportionally magnified when performed in company. From the Russian perspective, this does not need to be explained. It is simply what life is. We don’t have to explain why creatures desire to be alive. Life is an end in itself. And if what being alive actually consists of is having powers—to run, jump, fight, fly through the air—then surely the exercise of such powers as an end in itself does not have to be explained either. It’s just an extension of the same principle.

Set out a bowl of the year’s new walnuts for those who still have a corner to fill.

The Old World Kitchen, Elisabeth Luard, “Grape-Pickers’ Soup (Soupe des vendanges, France)

Almost everyone I know who loves video games — myself included — is broken in some fundamental way. With their ceaseless activity and risk-reward compulsion loops, games also soothe broken people. This is not a criticism. Fanatical readers tend to be broken people. The type of person who goes to see four movies a week alone is a broken person. Any medium that allows someone to spend monastic amounts of time by him- or herself, wandering the gloaming of imagination and reality, is doomed to be adored by lost, lonely people.

The only other thing I grabbed before I walked out was the sheaf of wrinkled, handwritten notes I’d scrawled while standing in the stores on Avenue U with the Italian ladies, who taught me that sustenance begins and ends with imagination and ingredients, and who forever changed the way I think about food, and what it means to feed myself and those I love despite the obstacles of place, time, and history.

A piece of cheese and some fresh fruit, followed by a tiny cup of bitter black coffee, is the Italians’ preferred way to round off a meal. Pecorino and Grana are the favorites of rural Tuscany: Italian cheeses, except for the local ones eaten absolutely fresh, are usually matured, well-flavored, salty, and strong. The repertoire lacks the wide variety ans sophistication of the French cheese board, but makes up for it in honesty and vigor.

The Old World Kitchen, Elizabeth Luard. “Pan-Fried Chicken, Pollo in padella (Italy)”

Sprinkle the fish with a little marjoram or oregano or thyme to remind you of the herbs crushed underfoot among the dry gray rocks of the Greek hillside.

The Old World Kitchen, Elizabeth Luard; why can’t one have poetry in one’s preparation instruction?