Living Archaeologically

Thoughts on foodways, colonialism, and identity

"Direct, simple, brief, vigorous, and lucid": Writing advice from Henry Watson Fowler

"Anyone who wishes to become a good writer should endeavour, before he allows himself to be tempted by the more showy qualities, to be direct, simple, brief, vigorous, and lucid.”  Henry Watson Fowler, The King’s English (1906)

Henry Watson Fowler was born on March 10, 1858

Sloe gin, vanilla ice cream, and being black and blue: Celebrating Ralph Ellison


Wayne Thiebaud, “Four Ice Cream Cones,” 1964, Collection of Phoenix Art Museum

"…when I have music I want to feel its vibration, not only with my ear but with my whole body.  I’d like to hear five recordings of Louis Armstrong playing and singing “What did I do to Be so Black and Blue”—all at the same time.  Sometimes now I listen to Louis while I have my favorite dessert of vanilla ice cream and sloe gin. I pour the red liquid over the white mound, watching it glisten and the vapor rising as Louis bends that military instrument into a beam of lyrical sound.  Perhaps I like Louis Armstrong because he’s made poetry out of being invisible.  I think it must be because he’s unaware that he is invisible.”  (Ellison, Invisible Man)

Ralph Ellison was born on March 1, 1913

Passion & writing: Yucatec Maya “dzib ol” (“desire”) means “to write in the heart”

Breaking Bread

"To be sensual, I think, is to respect and rejoice in the force of life, of life itself, and to be present in all that one does, from the effort of loving to the breaking of bread."

James Baldwin, “The Fire Next Time”

Johannes Vermeer (1657-1658) The Milkmaid. Collection of the Rijksmuseum.

Of the many instruments created by humankind, the most astonishing is, without a doubt, the book. The others serve as an extension of the human body…But the book is something else entirely: the book is an extension of memory and imagination.

De los diversos instrumentos del hombre, el más asombroso es, sin duda, el libro. Los demás son extensiones de su cuerpo… Pero el libro es otra cosa: es una extensión de la memoria y de la imaginación.


Jorge Luis Borges

Extractos de una conferencia pronunciada por Jorge Luis Borges en la Universidad de Belgrano el 24 de mayo de 1978, publicada al año siguiente en el libro Borges oral, Emecé Editores / Editorial de Belgrano, Buenos Aires.

[courtesy of John Carter Brown Library Director, Neil Safier]

Good advice: “Ne bois pas ton chocolat avec tes doigts, extrait de l’Enfance de Ko-Quo” Texte accompagnant la musique:Attends qu’il refroidisse un peu/ Bon ! tu t’es brulé la langue/ Non, maman : j’ai avalé la cuiller.

(Source: Spotify)

Joyce, Soul, and Chocolate

"Delightsome simply! Like Jolio and Romeune. I haven’t fell so turkish for ages and ages! Mine’s me of squisious, the chocolate with a soul. Extraordinary!"

—James Joyce, Finnegan’s Wake

Extraordinary, indeed.

The next example is far more measured, and shows Joyce’s loyalty to Epps’s Cocoa:

"He poured into two teacups two level spoonfuls, four in all, of Epps’s soluble cocoa and proceeded according to the directions for use printed on the label, to each adding after sufficient time for infusion the prescribed ingredients for diffusion in the manner and in the quantity prescribed."

James Joyce, Ulysses, Chapter 17, Ithaca.

Life and Día de Muertos: Reveries of Octavio Paz and Diego Rivera

"Sugar candy skulls, and tissue-paper skulls, and skeletons strung with fireworks…our popular images always poke fun at life, affirming the nothingness and insignificance of human existence. We decorate our houses with death’s-heads, we eat bread in the shape of bones on the Day of the Dead, we love the songs and stories in which death laughs and cracks jokes, but all this boastful familiarity does not rid us of the question we all ask: what is death? We have not thought up a new andwer. And each time we ask, we shrug our shoulders: why should I care about death if I have never cared about life?"

"Adornamos nuestras casas con cráneos, comemos el día de los Difuntos panes que fingen huesos y nos divierten canciones y chascarrillos en los que ríe la muerte pelona, pero toda esa fanfarronada familiaridad no nos dispensa de la pregunta que todos nos hacemos: ¿qué es la muerte? No hemos inventado una nueva respuesta. Y cada vez que nos la preguntamos, nos encogemos de hombros: ¿qué me importa la muerte, si no me importa la vida?"

Octavio Paz, The Labyrinth of Solitude, “Todos Santos, Día de Muertos”

Día de Muertos, 1924 by Diego Rivera

“A good night sleep, or a ten minute bawl, or a pint of chocolate ice cream, or all three together, is good medicine.”

—   Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

Alexander Pope & Chocolate: mills, froth, and vengeance

Or, as Ixion fix’d, the wretch shall feel
The giddy motion of the whirling Mill,
In fumes of burning Chocolate shall glow,
And tremble at the sea that froths below!

-Alexander Pope, “The Rape of the Lock”

Sir Plume Demands the Restoration of the Lock, Robert Charles Leslie

[courtesy of @Critter_Doc ]