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Book ReviewThe Epicure's Lament by Kate Christensen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Ultimately frustrating, due to lack of resolution. Plenty of plot in the stew, but the author doesn't seem to know what to do with it. Amusing, witty sentences. Loved the embedded recipes also. It's possible however, that the whole House M.D.-style loveable curmudgeon has just been done to death.
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- See Explanation. Cl June 22, 2017See Explanation. Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.
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- See Explanation. Cl June 22, 2017
Except in SL, this is NOT my body shape–a simple fact that haunted me greatly when I was young and trying to Dance. To this day, I remember some sadistic teacher pointing out to an entire class that I had “a short neck”. But this is the herd-like aspect of ballet that I came to abhor. This goes well beyond an individual pursuing a hobby for which she is not suited — it is a facet of the larger syndrome that makes women despise their own perfectly normal and lovely bodies.
Because, you know, ( Mr. Ballanchine, I am talking to you.) I AM NOT UGLY. Ballanchine married four times in his life, all to dancers, and his liaisons with members of his corps amounted to droit du seigneur privileges. He was so enraged when Suzanne Farrell married, that he fired her from the company at the peak of her career. His iconic style of choreography involved “de-individualizing” his dancers. A woman was not a woman, one feels he’s saying, but a brushstroke. They were, like his wives, interchangeable. His corps de ballet moved around the stage in abstract patterns. Only his own idiosyncrasy was considered worthy of celebration.
In an accident of time and place, Ballanchine’s narcissism proved extremely influential in the culture. His ideal body, an echo of other iterations, broadcasted through art and advertising, was the source of suffering and even illness for women trying to somehow become what they would never be, in the process, tragically ignoring what they actually were: people with their own beauty, deserving of love.
And in SL? Seems you have a dys/utopian choice there. So, Reader, I chose Beauty. Ballanchine wins in the end?
I had the most interesting friendship for awhile (she’s disappeared on me now) with a young Saudi woman in SL. I learned so much from talking with her. I have to confess that I am very curious about how life really is for women there. And I have to further confess that it’s rather like my prurient interest in cults in general. Scientology makes me shiver with horror, and how about life as a smart Mormon woman: http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/ I read the women struggling to reconcile their sense of independence with their loyalty to their church. They wouldn’t like my solution, I’m sure. But somehow I can’t take my eyes away from the train wreck.
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a Saudi movie before, but just watched _Wadjda_ and very much recommend it. I wish I could hear my young friend’s reaction. And lest we in the west get on any high horses, I saw this post soon after that film and it was an eerie juxtaposition: http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2014/04/there-such-thing-feminine-way-ride-bike/8886/
“Viriditas comes from the Latin word for green, viridis–which also gives the French vert, and the Italian and Spanish verde. Viriditas meant greenness. So usually it referred to the color of plants or of gems like emerald, although it was also used metphorically to mean vigor or youthfulness.
But Hildegard [of Bingen] used viriditas–greening or greenness–in a broader sense…She used it to mean the power of plants to put forth leaves, flowers and fruits; and she also used it for the analogous power of human beings to to grow, to give birth, and to heal.”
Keith makes her case in an oddly well-researched yet intimate voice, that pauses mid polemic to call out to her reader: ‘Can you believe this shit?” And frankly, the tactic is called for. Because what she’s saying is BIG.
Along with the rest of the world, I’ve been the recipient and the victim of several nutrition ‘turnings’. I was interested enough in Nutrition to become a professional, not that it has much meaning anymore. Everything I was taught was wrong. I might as well be Woody Allen in ‘Sleeper’. The complexity of studying human nutrition plus the political/economic stakes involved mean that there are very rarely any clear answers. Plus (to paraphrase Dr. House) Everybody Eats. So a stinkin’ credential doesn’t buy you much credibility. Very early on in my career I fled from anything clinical since that involves an attempt to change something more personal than religion. It usually just doesn’t happen.
Diet for a Small Planet was the rallying cry in the late 70’s. It sparked my interest in the field. The entire premise is eviscerated by Keith. Toast. And the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the infernally misguided USDA meal patterns that it engendered. All bunk. We’ve killed diabetics and made our citizens obese. We have much to answer for. We’ve been victimized by a pervasive like-produces-like fallacy. The enemy all along has not been FAT. It’s SUGAR.
I realized this the day I read Gary Taubes’ NYT article. I remember I stopped reading and (much as Keith urges her vegan readers to do), made some bacon and eggs. Not that I’ve never successfully been a vegetarian of any stripe. I didn’t have the willpower or the (blind?) moral certitude that Keith had during her 20 years as a vegan. Keith says she destroyed her own health with low protein, high carb. I was just getting fat. A low carb approach, has worked well for me. I don’t go on hypoglycemic binges anymore. I can control my weight. My lipid panels are good enough that doctors notice. I’m far, so very far from the Dietetic Party Line.
Keith systematically provides arguments against every path to Vegetarianism:
Moral Vegetarians: basically life happens because of death and even plants communicate and try to defend themselves. There is no such thing as life without killing.
Political Vegetarians: Agriculture is been destroying our health and our planet since its beginning. Devil Annual Grains make both us and animals fat. Cows need to eat grass (because we can’t) and we need to eat cows. Big Corn makes Big Oil look benign. We’re using up our ‘fossil soil’ as fast as fossil fuels and we’re on the path to worldwide starvation.
Nutritional Vegetarians: (see above) Another account of the Ancel Keys studies and how they don’t hold up. The mythical CHD scare. And the scariest devil in a book of devils: lectins, which Keith makes sound like gut-busting alien parasites.
Altogether a very disturbing, provocative book that I think needs to be widely read and discussed. Whether this book’s dismal predictions come to pass or there is another nutritional ‘turning’ in the future remains to be seen.
I’m a writer. I’m snobby about literature, because I know just enough about craft to be dangerous. Where films and music are concerned, I operate more on emotion than technical understanding. My weekly classical music DJ gig in Second Life has been a miracle for me — not only because it’s a delightful challenge to attempt to weave together a two hour playlist that will (hopefully) entice and enchant an audience but because of all the great new music I’ve found in the process.
Not such a big secret I guess, that I usually structure my playlists chronologically, starting with a baroque “bouquet”, then slowly moving into the more romantic or operatic. Where music is concerned, well classical music anyway, I prefer the omnivore approach. I love it all. I resist preferring any particular era of music to another. I think it’s my strength as a ‘curator’. I can’t tell a diminished fifth from a doughnut, but I respond to certain music and I try to play only music that sets off that ‘gut’ vibe.
What I like in music is a good sentence. A good piece of music, as in writing, has structure. It’s got plot: a beginning, middle and end. And just as in writing, the phrase or the sentence is where the rubber meets the road.
So this is my unschooled music theory — I like to listen to the sentences in music. I love the well articulated musical thought. Chopin’s got ’em – I swear I can almost hear the words. OK, I’ve even tried to graph them out and write words to his sentences, but they would be long ones. Mahler now, (this post WAS going to get to Mahler) he keeps starting sentences and then changing them midstream. It can be frustrating to hear some glimmer of a beautiful thought and before it’s developed, he’s taken another turn. Was Mahler a bit ADD, musically?
If this idea/metaphor has merit, I might apply this analysis to some more composers.