The agreeable eye

an eudæmonistarchives

February 2022

punctuated equilibria

2 February 2022, around 9.06.

It is another round of desultory reading, a sort of weak waving of the hand at sturdy piles of thoughtful books that do not at the moment appeal. I’ve been in the sort of reading mood that cannot ignore failures of proofreading – the inconsistent use of straight and typographer’s quotation marks in the last quarter of a book, spaced ellipses breaking at the end of a line, the appearance of ‘fussiily’ on page twelve of a book I’d been eagerly anticipating.

Or there is the lure of picking at dangling ideas, even (especially) when they are neatly woven into the argument. So in trying to read Lauren Berlant’s Cruel Optimism (otherwise appealing), the didactic introduction and the choice of artworks discussed (which all seem to have a sort of godawful ‘artiness’ to them) grate, as does the echo of a capabilities approach clanging uncited in the next chapter over. Or Judith Butler’s Antigone’s Claim, haunted by the specter of Hegel. Or the next chapter in Reading and Not Reading The Faerie Queene, which I cannot currently do justice to because I cannot face the idea of children reading Spenser (and, well, ditto Spenser).

This has sent me back to mysteries from the library, which has got me thinking about genre. Not very deeply, as there is a temptation to pursue a structuralist approach that is perhaps not very helpful.1 The element of the puzzle and the order: what is hidden and revealed. It is not that mysteries necessarily have a moral clarity in themselves, but that they are driven by a belief in the possibility of such a thing – of a perfect ethical system – even if does not exist within the world described.2 The platonism of the cozy.

Still, it’s a bad habit of mine to read almost everything as though it were fiction; or, on the contrary, to read everything as though it were not. Hard to tell things apart. Perhaps that is why I have less problem with fictionalized accounts of real people than some – though there is always the unnecessary annoyance of including ‘real’ people where they are not needed, as a shorthand indicating creative laziness, rather than creative economy.3

Where the devil do phrases like ‘creative economy’ (as in a clever husbanding of resources for artistic or rhetorical purpose) come from? What is it doing here? A spinning of wheels.

  1. Also, as an aside, why is it that the main difference between young adult and general fiction seems to be a belief in the efficacy (or interest) of meetings? Have I said this before? I think I’ve said this before. []
  2. Even when the broader societal causes of ‘whodunnit’ are considered, there is usually the sense that if things were other than they are (depicted), that injustice (or the injudicious) would be a problem that could be solved. []
  3. For example, the fad to feature famous dead authors as detectives in a certain sort of murder mystery – although I find that about equivalent to (and abhorrent as) the idea of a ‘new’ and updated Philip Marlowe mystery with a contemporary setting. []

A view (54)

24 February 2022, around 9.20.

Snow, trees, mountain, winter

Time: […] it is in my power
To o’erthrow law and in one self-born hour
To plant and o’erwhelm custom. Let me pass
The same I am, ere ancient’st order was
Or what is now received: I witness to
The times that brought them in; so shall I do
To the freshest things now reigning and make stale
The glistering of this present, as my tale
Now seems to it.

—Shakespeare (The Winter’s Tale, IV.i.7–15)

properly instructive (3)

28 February 2022, around 13.37.

Preliminary draft for methodology of the preparation of comestible of viscous and/or mucilaginous substances in a leavened scaffold.1

Materials and Methods

The facilities for comestible preparation were thoroughly cleaned (sometime before the experiment), and any remaining debris brushed from the countertop or work surface; the technician’s hands were also thoroughly washed sometime before preparation. For the purposes of this exercise, the following materials were gathered in the work area: one 581-g loaf of thin-sliced Powerseed bread (Dave’s Killer Bread, Portland, OR, USA; 70 kcal per slice); one 794-g jar of honey peanut butter spread (PB; Justin’s, Boulder, CO, USA; 105 kcal per tbsp, 85% peanut content); one 284-g jar of strawberry fruit spread (jam; Sweet Creek, Elmira, OR, USA; 30 kcal per tbsp); and one butter knife and teaspoon (Nordic Crown, Oneida Limited, Sherrill, NY, USA). Other materials may be substituted, but this may affect levels of satiety, harmony, and comfort. A plate may be desired for serving and should be set out before assembly but is not essential.

The twist tag was removed from the bread packaging, from which three slices of bread were removed; the terminal piece (i.e., the crust) was replaced in the package, which was then twisted and retagged before being returned to appropriate storage (20°C, ambient humidity). The two retained slices of bread were then placed flat on the clean countertop (a cutting board or other suitable clean, flat surface may also be used), with the contact faces (i.e., those sides of the bread which had been in contact when inside the packaging) upwards, and the top of the slices facing away from the technician, with one slice on the right and one to the left.

The lid of the PB jar was removed according to the manufacturer’s instructions; if the jar was not previously opened, the safety seal was removed and discarded. If separation of the contents had occurred, the butter knife was used to stir the PB until most of the oil was reincorporated. The butter knife was then used to remove approximately one tablespoon of PB (or ad libitum) from the jar; this gobbet was then placed on left-most slice and spread thinly and evenly (using the butter knife) across the surface of the bread, reaching all crusts. Once sufficient PB had been applied, the residual PB on the knife was wiped on the right-hand slice of bread. The knife was then set aside, but not discarded. The jar was then closed and set aside for later return to storage.

The lid of the jam jar was removed through trial and error; depending on the humidity and the strength of the technician, it may be necessary to apply the dull side of the knife blade, rapping sharply, to the edge of the lid (at one or more points) to break the seal. The jam was checked for foreign substances, including (but not limited to) bread crumbs and mold; jars containing foreign matter of this sort should be discarded. The jam should not be stirred. The teaspoon was used to remove one heaping spoonful (equivalent to just under one standard tablespoon measure) of jam (or ad libitum), which was then placed on the right-hand slice of bread. The jam was then distributed evenly across the surface of the bread, reaching all crusts, using the butter knife. Residual jam was removed from butter knife, which was set to one side. The technician may clean residual jam from the spoon orally, but the spoon should be set aside for sanitization. The lip of the jam jar was manually wiped to remove errant drips, then closed with the original lid and set aside for later return to storage.

The technician observed the two prepared bread slices; whichever slice appeared less substantially weighted (i.e., the side least likely to lose the admixture from the substrate) was then turned gently and placed atop the other slice, as though turning the page of a book to close it. Care was taken to center the slices. Breadcrumbs, fallen flax seeds, and other detritus were removed from the work surface. Substantial overflow of PB or jam (beyond the aesthetically pleasing) was evened up by running either the butter knife or a finger evenly around the overburdened edges of the comestible (which may be segmented into triangles with the butter knife at this point if desired, but this is not necessary). The knife was then set aside for sanitization. If the technician was untidy (i.e., sticky fingers), the hands were washed before returning the jars to storage.


A sandwich, perhaps on a plate, for consumption. The sandwich was sacrificed in the usual manner.

  1. This is my third and least whimsical attempt at completing the writing exercise ‘instructions for making a PBJ sandwich’; my first idea was involved solipsistic maundering about not making one’s own bread, the difficulty of choosing peanut butter in the grocery store, etc. It made me laugh to think about it, but wasn’t something I wanted to bother writing (it would take several thousand words to achieve the effect desired); my second idea focused on building tension through anxiety about anaphylaxis and peanut allergies, but that made me itch just thinking about it, so I set it aside; and here we are, with the least fun, past passive pastiche of some of the papers I’ve seen. Significance values <1%. []

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