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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Complexity

Ingredients I will use to make my eggplant pasta this evening: water, salt, pasta; eggplant, olive oil, flour, eggs, bread crumbs, cayenne pepper, black pepper, onions, garlic, parmesan, fresh basil.

I will boil the pasta in salted water; dip the eggplant in bread crumbs (flour & eggs first), sauté them in olive oil, make a tomato sauce with onions, garlic, fresh basil; mix the pasta, the eggplant, and a little of the tomato sauce with some cheese, and I am done. This is a relatively simple dish, that I think of as having two main ingredients, but if I break it down like this it looks complex. I have to decide how much of everything to use, how small to dice the onions, cooking times for every ingredient, amounts of seasonings. I might find a few more things in the pantry or fridge that will go into it.

It will require about 35 minutes (yes, I am fast in the kitchen). I know that I need to start with the things that take the longest; I know what can be done simultaneously. The the pasta can be cooked first and wait for the other ingredients. Onions will take their time to get as brown as I want them, but garlic cannot be burnt.

I know that I can make minor mistakes in timing and have things turn out still ok. I know my haste and lack of attention to detail might make a dish into a B+ or B- when it could have been and A-. I know rewards and risks of improvisation.

I know that I can eat this pasta with the rest of the pork tenderloin with chipotle blackberry glaze from Thursday. I'll have a salad of baby spinach with lemon and olive oil dressing. That's the third night I'm eating that tenderloin, but that's what I get for living alone.

***

There's an empirical side to the study of poetry, that I got from Pound, Zukofsky, and Perloff. Look at what the poem actually is saying on the literal level. Evaluate claims with precision. It seems too simplistic an approach but actually develops a level of complexity. There's a clarity of perception, like knowing what certain foods taste like and how long they need to cook.

1 comment:

Andrew Shields said...

"Look at what the poem actually is saying on the literal level": that's a general point about literature. Freshmen come to college and want to see symbols everywhere; you have to get them to stop looking for symbols and look at what the poem/story/novel/play/song actually says!