YOU WAKE UP UNDER a slowly rotating fan, the sweat pouring from your body onto the sheets of the bed you barely remember sleeping in. A tatty venetian blind casts narrow shadows across the room in sepia. One of The Doors’ songs, naturally, plays slowly, as you give a monologue describing your mental disintegration, and the progress of your terminal journey through another country’s trauma.
WHO DIDN’T TELL ME about this? Who neglected to mention the simple process, that could have delighted me so well in the years since I have been old enough to be trusted with a sharp knife and a hotplate? What horrible self-censorship stopped me ever doing this, and what shameful ignorance ever ruled the process out of bounds, non-decision, un-knowledge?
Take half an onion, chop it very finely, toss it in a teaspoon of flour, and fry it in lots of sunflower oil.
The recipe is that simple, if you want lovely crispy onions like burger places put on their hamburgers, like Indian places put on top of rice, like anybody would want an onion to turn into. The italics are mine for importance: this has been an honest-to-Protestant-American-come-to-Jesus-moment-cliché revelation. Open palms in the air, dancing, call-and-response, Billy Graham with fried food, genuine hallelujah-and-pass-the-chicken-salt stuff.
Put it all over your messy-as-hell omelette. Yeeeeahhhhh.
DIFFERENT RULES FOR DIFFERENT times of day are symptoms of a subtle tyranny. Humans have always obeyed the sunlight, getting up and going to sleep with the light, but it’s the modern city of workplaces and—and, though it’s a subject for another time, public transport—that has forced us all under the oppressive rule of the clock. Up in the morning and out to school as the song goes, we’re creatures of punctuality, routine, and the habitual regimen of the time-of-day, more self-disciplined to the hour than Medieval monks ever were. Even the most notoriously time-bound workplaces of all, the watches of sailors on board ships in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, were enforced by relentless explicit violence and compulsory drug abuse. Like proper post-Foucauldians on board the Inner West Line train to work, we get the discipline without the fun.
‘HOW DO YOU MAKE such nice toasted cheese sandwiches?’ my assistant asked me.
‘Emmental’, I replied.
HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES writers and researchers, a great secret is being kept from you. You know about C.P. Snow’s Two Cultures, and you’ve probably encountered scientific and technical types on the Internet, recognising them by their ferocious militant atheism, their communication through image macro memes, and their irrational fondness for light rail projects. When you sigh, minimise your web browser and get back to work in MS Word, though, their laughs are on you: it’s a horrible platform for writing, a worse one for presenting lengthy text, and there’s a much better alternative.
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