Busytown by Jolisa Gracewood

Read Post

Busytown: A Thought Went Up My Mind To-day

138 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 Newer→ Last

  • Jolisa,

    Backtracking to Ben for a minute - that is a grotesquely accurate accounting of the business of "fast" food. Which I once read a brilliant academic article about, describing the whole process as the reanimation of dead food - removed from its paper or plastic sarcophagi, reheated, inserted into new paper or plastic sarcophagi for serving purposes, then consumed, after which the paper or plastic sarcophagi are themselves consigned to oblivion in the trash, while we get to work on digesting the dead food.... a sort of mummification interrupted.

    Ugh. Yes, on balance, I think I prefer my food fresh* and my museums virtual.

    *Am currently hard at work on a heatwave-proof stove-top/uncooked dinner to tempt our flagging appetites. Room-temperature Spanish garlic shrimp, a cold barley- watermelon-rosemary salad, the usual mozzarella-tomato-basil salad, some hard-boiled eggs, plus bread, nectarines, and snap peas. Probably the only thing I'm missing is lashings of home-made ginger beer!

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    And backtracking to David H. I'm leery of anything that looks too much like hard work, but d'you think the more long-winded literary wing of PAS (and I think you know who I mean, kemosabe) could sustain a sort of LRB-type supplement? My one hesitation is that if I knew I were writing for print, rather than onscreen, I think I would edit twice as hard and publish half as often, which would be... well, slow.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    (Disclaimer: I love archaeology & archaeologists. A LOT of what real archaeologists do is, dig up dead humans (and other beings.) But, surely - and this is a trend in certain fields of archaeology - we can dig up/measure in every possible way/ and then, recover, with earth-)

    Oh, totally - there is some amazing science that can only be done by looking at actual bodies. But, as you say, there is no need to then put them on display permanently (I'm excepting, e.g., people who have donated their bodies to medical research - it's the ones who never had a chance to give permission that make me feel uncomfortable.)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Amy Gale,

    Am currently hard at work on a heatwave-proof stove-top/uncooked dinner to tempt our flagging appetites.

    We're all about salade nicoise in this weather. If you do enough eggs, you can even keep some in the fridge for the next salad (technically this is also true of potatoes, but leftover potatoes ask so loudly to be sauteed that I cannot in good conscience ignore them).

    The other thing you can do - though it's more of an hors d'oeuvre than a meal - is snack intermittently on the garden as you play with the dog after work. Obviously this requires a garden, a dog, and a job, but local variations could work too. It's a rather lettuce-heavy undertaking right now, but tomatoes and radishes seem to be coming along well.

    And is that the watermelon barley salad from the NYT article on dinner co-ops? I saved that but haven't made it yet. The idea of a dinner co-op is pretty darn tempting, too. Especially the bit about using up your CSA <cough> bounty.

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 471 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Ooh, Amy, you're on my wavelength, or heatwavelength. (Lucy, when do you arrive hereabouts? NO need to bring a cardie, obvs).

    Salade nicoise - I always forget about that. And yes, the NYT watermelon salad, but the boys are petitioning loudly that I leave the watermelon on the side so they can eat it au naturel. Which is fair enough.

    The snacking on the garden thing would work except that our peas just fried and the tomatoes aren't there yet and my salad crops were an abject failure. Banking on the peach and pear trees to balance it all out thought, in a month or so... they are heavily laden and looking healthy!

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    sweaters...

    or heatwavelength

    I have just heard from a friend that it is
    104 degrees Fahrenheit in New Jersey today!
    maybe they should rename it New Tank Top...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7939 posts Report Reply

  • Ngaire BookieMonster,

    (Can I get a Bookiemonster up in this thread?)

    .....did someone say cats?
    :)
    I was lucky enough to spend a couple of months travelling around the US with my family as a kid (10) and found it eternally fascinating for exactly the sorts of reasons you describe here. Everything is at once intensely familiar (to a child of the tv age) and intensely strange.
    And the many, many, many little historical places and museums and galleries and ... sometimes I wonder if my mum was a secret frustrated artist because she definitely seemed to love visiting all these places. And of course at 10 I was mostly like "whaaaaa?" but now I think, how lucky I am. How lucky.

    Dickinson - I just did a (much less literary) post on my favourite American authors in celebration of July 4, and was finding it hard to pick as many women writers as men - Keri pointed out Dickinson (yes, I forgot, the shame) whose poetry I really enjoy but like most poetry only sort of on the periphery of my reading.

    Just on the mummies thing - maybe I'm a bit cold but I really have no problem with mummies on display. They're just another object. Maybe I'd feel differently if they weren't bodies that are so old, but I don't know - dead bodies are fascinating but in the way of a "thing" not a person.

    At the foot of Mt Te Aroh… • Since Nov 2009 • 174 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Did someone say 'teeny tiny freaky museums'? And were we talking about death and display? Well, have I got just the thing for you! Houston's very own National Museum of Funeral History. Lots of fun/ghoulish/interesting stuff, but what sticks in my mind is the small display of those Victorian floral wall hangings made entirely from the deceased's hair. (Does the prospect of hairy little flowers on the wall make you all throw up a little, mentally? I feel quite gaggy, remembering it, but I'm not sure why it's so *incredibly gross* to me.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Just on the mummies thing - maybe I'm a bit cold but I really have no problem with mummies on display. They're just another object. Maybe I'd feel differently if they weren't bodies that are so old, but I don't know - dead bodies are fascinating but in the way of a "thing" not a person.

    Sort of. But there's definite ickiness surrounding the uses of dead human remains. Who would ever keep the relics produced in Nazi death camps? I'm sure an ashtray made from a human skull is a perfectly functional ashtray, and certainly just a thing in some senses, but it's still a bizarre and macabre thing to possess or even see, IMHO.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I'm not sure why it's so *incredibly gross* to me.

    Death customs are amongst the most arbitrary, and most strongly felt of all morals. I expect it's because they are exercised mostly at times of extreme emotion. We want answers, and guidance, and take heart in strong customs that give us that, despite having very little rational basis other than lightning rods for grief.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Ngaire BookieMonster,

    Body parts made into functional objects seems like a different subject though than body parts/bodies displayed as body parts/bodies.

    I wouldn't necessarily look to own a human skull ashtray (or a human skull drinking vessel or similar) but I wouldn't avoid viewing one.

    Plus for me bizarre and macabre doesn't equal bad either, and I would totally be into visiting the aforementioned Museum of Funeral History! I realise not everyone feels that same way...

    At the foot of Mt Te Aroh… • Since Nov 2009 • 174 posts Report Reply

  • Grace Dalley,

    Probably the only thing I'm missing is lashings of home-made ginger beer!

    And a dog named Timmy? :-)

    I have just heard from a friend that it is
    104 degrees Fahrenheit in New Jersey today!
    maybe they should rename it New Tank Top...

    Or No Jersey?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2008 • 138 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Body parts made into functional objects seems like a different subject though than body parts/bodies displayed as body parts/bodies.

    Isn't a display a functional object?

    I agree that bizarre and macabre are not bad. We still need morticians, pathologists, etc. And watching horror is still fun. But there's all sorts of taboos around death and dead parts that are very hard to shake, and I don't really think it's even necessary to try to shake them.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    It just occurred to me that it's not necessarily the dead thing, it's the *hair* thing. If the associated person was still hale and hearty, standing there by the floral display going 'hey, look at this rad craft I made from my own hair!', I would still want to hurl on them.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Ngaire BookieMonster,

    Isn't a display a functional object?

    Sure, if you want to say that. But that's different from my original point - talking about bodies as bodies, on display not bodies disguised as something else, on display. I don't think the two are the same or can be equated.

    At the foot of Mt Te Aroh… • Since Nov 2009 • 174 posts Report Reply

  • Ngaire BookieMonster,

    @Danielle - is it weird then that I made a cat toy for my cat from its own hair (gathered after brushing)? It had googly eyes, if that helps...

    At the foot of Mt Te Aroh… • Since Nov 2009 • 174 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Do the Strand - hairs looking at you kid...
    (fade away never...)

    Lots of fun/ghoulish/interesting stuff, but what sticks in my mind is the small display of those Victorian floral wall hangings made entirely from the deceased's hair. (Does the prospect of hairy little flowers on the wall make you all throw up a little, mentally? I feel quite gaggy, remembering it, but I'm not sure why it's so incredibly gross to me.)

    no need to wig out...
    these distressing barberous practices
    are knot a Victorian mourning sickness
    just a sentimental inversion of
    'gone today, hair tomorrow'
    a way of splitting hairs for heirs
    though this may be hearsay

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7939 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    is it weird then that I made a cat toy for my cat from it's own hair (gathered after brushing)?

    Nyarggghhhh! Ah, yeah, it's probably not weird, but it makes me personally kinda hurly. :)

    (If we make a movie about this thread, I suggest that it should be called Dickinson, Death, and Watermelon Salad.)

    ETA:

    barberous practices

    Ian, you complete me.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    Lovely post Jolisa.

    Bukowski on cats.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I would still want to hurl on them.

    I find wigs made from real hair quite yucky, I must say.

    But that's different from my original point - talking about bodies as bodies, on display not bodies disguised as something else, on display. I don't think the two are the same or can be equated.

    I'm not judging you as cold, if that helps. Just pointing out that it doesn't take much looking to find examples of the use of human parts that make most people feel exactly what others feel when they see mummified remains. And the choice of reason for that is quite arbitrary.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Dickinson, Death, and Watermelon Salad

    I like it , but surely Richard Brautigan's lawyers would have something to say ... I wonder how the battle with Apple over iDEATH* is going? :- )
    Maybe the working title could be more...
    Melon-colic ...

    *aka: baud stiff

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7939 posts Report Reply

  • Grace Dalley,

    it doesn't take much looking to find examples of the use of human parts that make most people feel exactly what others feel when they see mummified remains. And the choice of reason for that is quite arbitrary.

    Arbitrary? Not at all, it's all to do with how much respect is being shown. Lenin's embalmed body is on public display, as is Mao's, precisely because they are revered. Yet the mummified mokamokai that Islander saw in the Otago Museum is the remains of an individual who's been shown the ultimate disrespect. Context is everything.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2008 • 138 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Context is everything.

    Yeah and every person and society is a context too. Showing the mummified corpses of humans is offensive to a lot of people, not so much to others. I don't think there's any truth about whether they are "objectively" offensive. Just subjectively. And we make further subjective judgments about whether the offense to other people take matters. Egyptians who feel deeply offended at people gawking at their mummies are basically ignored, on provisos that they did not agree to. Did every Russian feel that it was right to mummify Lenin? I doubt it. Are Maori still allowed to mummify heads? No. Not because that would be disrespectful to the dead Maori who might be mummified but because too many people in NZ find the idea abhorrent.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    It's strange, or perhaps it's not: I used to not mind mummies at all, although I found the idea of anything with visible facial features pretty off-putting. But mummies (or indeed the bog man) just seemed like objects; containers for people, but not people.

    But then, I hadn't seen a dead person I knew.

    Now, I can't look at the anonymous remains without also simultaneously seeing my Dad, or rather, what was no longer my Dad, but was certainly his earthly container and physical embodiment. And that overlay makes that part of the museum more disturbing, and a little bit wrong-feeling.

    Obviously this is very personal, and it can't necessarily be extrapolated to a coherent argument. The Victorians saw dead people all the time and it didn't stop them gathering up boxes full of other people's dead people to put in their museums. And don't get me started on the resurrection men... yikes.

    --
    Meanwhile, over in the hair art department, and especially for Danielle, because I desperately want to hear the word "hurl" again:

    * Tom Friedman's tarantula of hair, and soap sculpture with pubic hair

    * and hairball assemblages and even more hair art by hair artist Diane Jacobs.

    Hairy, hairy art. Made of hair.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    And for those of us who just get off on old, old gorgeous old, yummy old spaces... 4 Princelet St, an early 18th C merchant's house in beautifully conserved original condition. That green! That blue! That greeny blue! Those floors...

    Yum, yum.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.