— Franz Kafka, Letters To Milena (via fourteendrawings)
I’m going to have a panic attack about my friend getting married and moving away.
They built the world’s largest salad. The whole thing was set up in a park about an hour away from our home so my wife Diane convinced me that it might be fun to go see it.
"Deb and Gary are going this afternoon and so I thought we’d ride over there with them."
"Will there be any left?"
"Oh, it’s not to eat," said Diane. "It’s like an art piece. The Guinness World Records people will be there."
On the way over, I started to talk about a Cobb salad I had at this place near my office that was pretty big.
"I usually eat only about half of it."
"Well, I’m sure this one is much bigger than that," said Gary.
"Jesus Christ, Gary. I wasn’t implying that I thought the Cobb salad I had was bigger than this salad. It’s just that all of this giant salad business has me thinking about large salads I’ve had before. God!"
"It was a joke," said Gary. "Calm down."
But I could tell from the muscles in his face that Gary was lying. Deb quickly chimed in with a request to hear about more of the big salads I’d had, but I was over it. The mood had been ruined.
"Forget it," I said. "Let’s just get this thing over with."
The salad was huge. According to a series of laminated signs, we learned that all of the produce had come by way of donations from local farmers and then a college in New York had commissioned a handful of artists to construct a gigantic ceramic bowl to put everything in.
We took pictures and afterwards I bought a t-shirt at the gift shop. It was powder blue with a graphic of the gigantic salad pasted right on the front. On the back was the date and city.
In the car, Gary said that the salad on my t-shirt just looked like a regular-sized salad.
"Bullshit," I said. "It’s huge."
"Well maybe it’s huge because you know that it’s huge," said Diane. "But to someone who doesn’t know what it is, I can see how it looks like a regular salad."
I looked at it again and realized that they were right. How could I have allowed myself to be seduced by the context of such a limited reality? The only place a gigantic salad can truly exist is sitting there right in front of you! Even photos were a stretch. I stifled my anger and humiliation with short breaths and concentrated on the scenery so as not to rip the t-shirt in half in a blind rage.
Gary had made me look like a fool twice in a span of mere hours and I desperately needed to restore balance. That night, I sat in my study and replayed the day’s events in my mind. Surely, Gary had to have slipped up somewhere and said or done something dumb.
"Diane," I said. "Wake up."
"God, what time is it?"
"Remember when we first saw the salad? Remember what Gary said?"
"I don’t know."
"He said that the salad was so big, that he’d need a pitchfork to eat it! Remember?"
She thought about it. “I guess. I really don’t remember.”
"He did say it! Ha! What an idiot!"
I clapped my hands together.
"Because, Diane. The ingredients were standard-sized ingredients. It was only the salad itself that was huge."
"So why the pitchfork?! Does Gary suddenly have a gigantic head with such a gigantic mouth that a regular fork won’t do? God, he’s so stupid! Isn’t he stupid, Diane?"
"I don’t know what your problem is with Gary."
"I don’t have a problem with Gary! I just have a problem with an idiot who thinks that large portions automatically correlate with large utensils. I mean, Christ Diane! What an idiot!"
I could see that my wife wanted me to leave, but I wasn’t done yet.
"Why, that would be like thinking that…" I paused, a grin plastered to my face, and tried to think of a similar example containing both a large food item and another large utensil. But it wouldn’t come to me.
"It would be like what?" asked Diane.
"Nothing! I’ll think of it later."
In the early hours of the morning, Gary was awakened by an anonymous phone call from the payphone outside of a nearby liquor store.
"If someone gave you a gigantic sundae, you’d probably try to eat it with a snow shovel!"
My beautiful best friend is talkin crazy stuff about moving to the caribbean to do pre-med and I’m like :( allow me to join you as a live-in maid/cat sitter.
Susan Howe, Frolic Architecture, 2009
Susan Howe’s newest book of poetry is a revelation as well as a mystery. “What treasures of knowledge we cluster around.” That This is a collection in three pieces. “Disappearance Approach,” an essay about the sudden death of the author’s husband (“land of darkness or darkness itself you shadow mouth”), begins the book with paintings by Poussin, an autopsy, Sarah Edwards and her sister-in-law Hannah, phantoms, elusive remnants, and snakes. “Frolic Architecture,” the second section — inspired by visits to the vast 18th-century Jonathan Edwards archives at the Beinecke and accompanied by six black-and-white photograms by James Welling — presents hauntingly lovely, oblique text-collages that Howe (with scissors and “invisible” Scotch Tape and a Canon copier) has twisted, flattened, and snipped into “inscapes of force.” The final section, “That This,” delivers beautiful short squares of verse that might look at home in a hymnal, although their orderly appearance packs startling power:
That this book is a history of
a shadow that is a shadow of
Me mystically one in another
another another to subserve
There’s one thing I need in life. And that is an unlimited amount of weed.
Hayami Gyoshu (Japanese, 1894-1935), New Leaves, 1915. Colour on paper, 125 x 81 cm. Adachi Museum of Art.