Wednesday, December 24, 2014

soup with a few sprigs of bindweed

After her parents died and her brother left for the underground, my mother lived alone, fretting and pacing through a whole year of days. The house, three main rooms and three outbuildings, was deserted but for her. It was difficult enough to clean it and scrub the floors. On top of that, there was the garden to maintain and defend from an invasion of weeds. As soon as she had weeded one corner, weeds would swallow up another. At noon, when the summer heat reached its peak, the cry of a black cuckoo bird was enough to make her jump in terror. She came and went in silence, followed only by her own shadow.

A straw fire licking at a stoneware cooking pot filled with the daily rice. A jar of salted vegetables stinking in the corner of the house. A steamed fish pickled in its own brine. Or a hard-boiled egg on a tiny plate. A clear soup with a few sprigs of bindweed plucked from the hedge.

(Duong Thu Huong, tr Nina McPherson, The Paradise of the Blind (1993))

[Georges Bataille] links abjection to "the inability to assume with sufficient strength the imperative act of excluding."

(Julia Kristeva, tr. Leon S. Roudiez, Powers Of Horror: An Essay On Abjection (1982))

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