That – and no more, and it is everything to make you hear, to make you feel — it is, before all, to make you see. That — and no more, and it is everything

In one of the rare interviews he did, the fiction writer and poet Denis Johnson — who died on Wednesday at 67 — was asked about his craft, and he quoted these lines from Joseph Conrad: “My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feel — it is, before all, to make you see. That — and no more, and it is everything.”

In his own novels and poems, Mr. Johnson fulfilled that task with extraordinary savagery and precision. He used his startling gift for language to create word pictures as detailed and visionary, and as varied, as paintings by Edward Hopper and Hieronymus Bosch, capturing the lives of outsiders — the lost, the dispossessed, the damned — with empathy and unsparing candor. Whether set in the bars and motels of small-town America, or the streets of wartime Saigon, his stories depict people living on the edge, addicted to drugs or adrenaline or fantasy, reeling from the idiocies and exigencies of modern life, and longing for salvation…

Mr. Johnson’s America, past or present, is uncannily resonant today. It’s a troubled land, staggering from wretched excess and aching losses, a country where dreams have often slipped into out-and-out delusions, and people hunger for deliverance, if only in the person of a half-baked messiah. Reason is in short supply here, and grifters and con men peddling conspiracy thinking and fake news abound; families are often fragmented or nonexistent; and primal, Darwinian urges have replaced the rule of law. And yet, and yet, amid the bewilderment and despair, there are lightning flashes of wonder and hope — glimpses of the possibility of redemption…

“What I write about,” Mr. Johnson once said, “is really the dilemma of living in a fallen world, and asking: ‘Why is it like this if there’s supposed to be a God?’”

~ Michiko Kakutani, excerpts from Denis Johnson’s Poetic Visions of a Fallen World


Find Denis Johnson’s Books on his Page at Amazon here.

Karmar Repair Kit 1-4

sleep-dog-rest-cute

1. Get enough food to eat,
and eat it.

2. Find a place to sleep where it is quiet,
and sleep there.

3. Reduce intellectual and emotional noise
until you arrive at the silence of yourself,
and listen to it.

4.

~ Richard Brautigan, “Karma Repair Kit 1-4″ from The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster


Source: Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels. Photo: via Your Eyes Blaze Out

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

salt-fat-acid-heat-samin-nosrat-cooking-1.jpg

“Somehow my mom always knew exactly what would taste best when we emerged. Persian cucumbers topped with sheep’s milk feta cheese rolled together in lavash bread. We chased the sandwiches with handfuls of ice cold grapes or wedges of watermelon to quench our thirst. That snack, eaten while my curls dripped with seawater and salt crust formed on my skin, always tasted so good. Without a doubt, the pleasures of the beach added to the magic of the experience.”

Samin Nosrat grew up understanding how good food is all about balance, and that’s the gist of her new cookbook. It’s titled “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering The Elements Of Good Cooking.”

(SALT) Nosrat frees her readers to use their own senses instead of measuring cups. She says we should salt things until they taste like the sea, which is a beautiful thing, but it also sounds like just a lot of salt.  NOSRAT: “Just use more than you’re comfortable with, I think, is a good rule for most people. Especially when you’re boiling things in salted water, most foods don’t spend that much time in that water…So the idea is to make the environment salty enough so that the food can absorb enough salt and become seasoned from within. A lot of times, you end up using less salt total if you get the salt right from within because then the thing isn’t over-seasoned on the outside and bland in the center.”

(FAT) “I think fat has this remarkable capability to offer us all these different and very interesting and delicious and sort of mouthwatering textures in our food. And it’s just about learning how to get those textures out of the fat that you’re already using.”

(ACID) “For me, it’s all about getting that nice tangy balance in a meal or in a bite or in a dish. And you can get that through a lot of things, citrus and vinegar and wine which are maybe the three most obvious and sort of well-known sources of acid…Almost every condiment we add to our food is acidic, which is why when you get – I don’t know – a bean and cheese burrito, you’re always like hungry for salsa and sour cream and guacamole to put on there because those things will just perk it up, you know, and add flavor.”

(HEAT) “And so the thing about heat I realized, it sort of boils down to when you’re cooking a food, your goal – no matter what the food is – is to get your desired result on the outside and on the inside. And so your dream is to get that perfect grilled cheese, where the outside is crisp and brown and buttery and delicious, and the inside is melty and perfect.”

Chef Calls ‘Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat’ The 4 Elements Of Good Cooking, excerpts from an interview with Samin Nosrat. 

Find the bestseller on Amazon here: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking

Saturday Morning

Morning was calm and early afternoon beautiful, with temps near sixty degrees. Then the wind rose out of the canyons and the trees on the mountaintop bowed to some unseen god in the east…The greatest gift of life on the mountain is time. Time to think or not think, read or not read, scribble or not scribble – to sleep and cook and walk in the woods, to sit and stare at the shapes of the hills. I produce nothing but words; I consume nothing but food, a little propane, a little firewood. By being utterly useless in the calculations of the culture at large I become useful, at last, to myself.

~ Philip Connors, from “Diary of a Fire Lookout” in Paris Review


Notes: Quote – Thank you Beth at Alive on All Channels. Photo: FOTO:MOG

Walking Cross-Town. With little ones.


3:30 a.m. yesterday. Saw this photo and froze.

This THIS is the world our children live in today.

Look at her. Those eyes. Those little shoes.

Precious is tucked in close to Dad who is buying tickets for the show.

And then the scene darkens, a conjoining of rivers with Catherine Abbey Hodges’ closing lines in “How to Begin“: “You’re a strand of dark thread sticking a word to a river. Then another.

Manchester. 22 dead. Women, children, soft targets. UK terror threat raised to Critical. 1000 troops deployed.

Dear Ms. Hodges, is the question How to Begin?

Or is it, How does it end? [Read more…]

Just Breathe

Miracle. All of it.

Pregnant Turtle. Female turtles are able to retain sperm in their Fallopian tubes for up to three years, which can be used for different clutches of eggs. A single clutch of eggs can also have multiple fathers.

~ Jessica Stewart, 12 Incredible X-Rays Reveal How Different Pregnant Animals Look (My Modern Met)


Notes:

  • Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
  • Related Live & Live Posts: Miracle. All of it.

It’s been a long day

germany

Don’t be afraid to suffer—take your heaviness
and give it back to the earth’s own weight;
the mountains are heavy,
the oceans are heavy.

– Rainer Maria Rilke, from The Poetry of Rilke; “Sonnets to Orpheus


Notes:

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


Notes:

  • Photo: (via Horty, thank you!)
  • Background on Caleb/Wednesday/Hump Day Posts and Geico’s original commercial: Let’s Hit it Again

Riding Metro North. Don’t Sit Here.

You, yes You, are standing on the platform waiting for the next train. The train approaches.  You flip open an app that displays which seats are open and…the app flashes a profile of your seat mate. Profiles are pulled together using a composite of the individuals’ blog posts, google searches and social media activity. So, what you have here is a form of seat match-making, with no names or addresses disclosed.

You, yes You, see that there are only two seats open. You scan the first profile, and you move to the second, mine, needing to quickly decide where to sit as the train pulls into the station. [Read more…]

%d bloggers like this: