Death By Chocolate

Long before there was a cake by that name, there was an anecdote:

It was said that a nobleman of Louis XIII's court had offended the honour of one of the ladies-in-waiting. She was so incensed that she poisoned a cup of chocolate she prepared him and just before he died, he held her in his arms and whispered, 'The chocolate would have been better if you had added a little more sugar; the poison gives it a bitter flavour. Think of this the next time you offer a gentleman chocolate.'
Reported by Jennie Reekie in The Little Chocolate Book

And so for day 1949

Residues For the Colour Blind

These are from a series inspired by Fisher Price alphabet magnets.
Feel Happier in Nine Seconds by Linda Besner

glassblowers trumpet delicate lullabies

darkness worships sparklers
Translated into marked and unmarked letters:
glassblowers trumpet delicate lullabies

darkness worships sparklers
Like turning up the bass … not quite capturing the fluted subtleties of g-l-ass-b-lowers

And so for day 1948

Colour Analysis

from "Our Baby"

Art irritating Life
from "Your Happy Place May Be in Need of an Undersea Princess"
she said 'caca d'oie' and I said 'war.'
she said 'cuisse de nymphe effrayé' and I said 'peace.'
All in Feel Happier in Nine Seconds by Linda Besner

And so for day 1947

Hibiscus syriacus

James Schuyler
in The Home Book

while the trees lean in folds and the rose of Sharon blooms
and blooms at each twig and branch tip like a toy tree
the lines themselves carry over like the overburdened shrub itself — it's that repetition that crosses the enjambement — almost toppling over

And so for day 1946

Grotesque Appeals

It's from a 1964 speech (The White Problem) collected in The Cross of Redemption: Uncollected Writings. And is given this configuration by Raoul Peck in the film and book, I Am Not Your Negro compiled and edited from texts by James Baldwin:

In this country,
for a dangerously long time,
there have been two levels of experience.
One, to put it cruelly, can be summed up
in the images of Gary Cooper and Doris Day:
two of the most grotesque appeals
to innocence the world has ever seen.
And the other,
subterranean, indispensable, and denied,
can be summed up, let us say,
in the tone and the face of Ray Charles.
And there has never been any genuine confrontation
between these two levels of experience.
What was continuous prose gains a new energy and incision with the line breaks. In the best and most honest of receptions, it forces us to re-read the originating essay and its animating spirit that calls for the facing of truth in order to work through history, recognizing the price of transformation, in order to take the first awkward steps towards survival.

And so for day 1945

Or Words to That Effect

The fate of a text by F.R. Scott, "W.L.M.K."

I was led to the library copy because I saw multiplied across the WWW citations containing the same error ("oderly decontrol"). The library copy netted another accidental ("conscription is necessary") which one reader corrected in the Robarts Library copy with a big fat F in blue ink which is closer to the popular conditional.

[The "is" is silently corrected to "if" in online versions that netted "oderly decontrol".]

Further research reveals that the often cited phrase "conscription if necessary but not necessarily conscription" reverses the syntax of what William Lyon Mackenzie King uttered in much more compact and clipped phrasing:
"Not necessarily conscription, but conscription if necessary"
But there is space in the popular imagination for poetic liberties.

And so for day 1944

Between Bites

The main ingredient …

DINNER. A major daily activity, which can be accomplished in worthy fashion only by intelligent people. It is not enough to eat. To dine, there must be diversified, calm conversation. It should sparkle with the rubies of the wine between courses, be deliciously suave with the sweetness of dessert, and acquire true profundity with the coffee.
Alexandre Dumas Dictionary of Cuisine edited, abridged, translated by Louis Colman.

And so for day 1943

Perfectly Steeped in Its Lore

Robert Finch. "A Cup of Tea" in The Grand Duke of Moscow's Favourite Solo

This begins with a description of the equipment needed and goes on to muse about labour and climate.


How many gestures till a cup of tea
Is there to drink! The kitchen tap must free
What in the kettle goes, where it must stay
Until it boils. Meanwhile a simple tray
Will come in handy, with a spotless cloth
And napkin, that the whole array be couth.
Next, cup and saucer, most important these,
Since they may make or mar the best of teas,


The hands that pick and dry and pack the leaves,
Oh, the poor pittance that their work receives


There are the gestures, too, of sun, wind, rain,
Their cultivating labours and, again,


The tea is ready. Could more gestures be
Even thinkable? Yes, one more — pour the tea
Sipping tea has rarely been so informed.

And so for day 1942


Not always driven by profit motive.

'War,' said I to myself, 'is the evil genius of a time; but good food for all is a daily and a paramount necessity.' These reflections led to a further communication with Messrs. Smith and Philips, of Snow Hill. I took out a patent for the stoves. This I did not like to do before I had introduced them to the Government, as every one would have supposed that I wished to make money by the patent. The object of a patent, after such a decided success, was to secure the solidity and perfection of the article. As it was difficult to make, and certain to be badly imitated, my reputation must have suffered. Instead of being expensive, they will be sold at a reasonable price, sufficient to repay the manufacturers, and to leave a fair profit; thus placing them within the reach of all — the million as well as the millionaire.
Alexis Soyer The Chef at War

And so for day 1941

No Exit: Many Entrances

Written as if in the shadow of Derrida.

Fresh air always seems freshest outside an archive. We wander down to one of the cafés on campus and sit staring over a sun-drenched lawn dotted with students out enjoying the day. And when talk turns to the Bay Area light and the way Berkeley today looks like a painting from the Sixties or Seventies by David Hockney or Richard Diebenkorn, we catch ourselves wondering whether we can ever really leave the archive.
Deaths of the Poets Paul Farley & Michael Symmons Roberts

And so for day 1940

Notes on Slave Gardens


Scholars have long understood that the slave plantation system was the model and motor for the carbon-greedy machine-based factory system that is often cited as an inflection point for the Anthropocene. Nurtured in even the harshest circumstances, slave gardens not only provided crucial human food, but also refuges for biodiverse plants, animals, fungi, and soils. Slave gardens are an underexplored world, especially compared to imperial botanical gardens, for the travels and propagations of myriad critters.
From Note 5 on "Plantationocene"
Donna Haraway "Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin"
in Environmental Humanities, vol. 6, 2015, pp. 159-165

A debate waged among southern plantation owners about the desirability of these gardens. Some argued they encouraged domestic tranquility and tied slaves more securely to the land. Others felt the gardens, and the independence they encouraged, led to discontent and distracted slaves from labor in the fields.
Babbette Block's sculpture
Brookgreen Gardens Lowcountry Trail Sculptures, Murells Inlet, South Carolina
Female Enslaved African Stainless Steel, 8 1/2' high
Male Enslaved African Stainless Steel, 9' high
There is another garden pointing to modern slavery — design by Juliet Sergeant
cultivating a different kind of awareness.

And so for day 1939

Observations on School for Indians

The poet bears witness.


We walked through the crowded class-rooms.
No map of Canada or the Territories,
No library or workshop,
Everywhere religious scenes,
Christ and Saints, Stations of the Cross,
Beads hanging from nails, crucifixes,
And two kinds of secular art —
Silk-screen prints of the Group of Seven,
And crayon drawings and masks
Made by the younger children,
The single visible expression
Of the soul of these broken people.

Upstairs on the second storey
Seventy little cots
Touching end to end
In a room 30 by 40
Housed the resident boys
In this firetrap mental gaol.
F.R. Scott "Fort Providence" (Section V of Letter from the Mackenzie River 1956) in The Dance Is One (McClellan and Stewart, 1973).

And so for day 1938

Process is Not the Same as Flow

My Mother Was a Computer by N. Katherine Hayles.

[…] the world is not a collection of preexisting objects but a continuing stream of processes. Although we customarily assume that the world preexists the processes, from a perceptual point of view the processes come first, and the objects we take as the world emerge from them. It is precisely this flux, this ongoingness of process from which the world emerges, that the realist in effect erases by privileging the underlying forms as the essential reality.
I am moved to ponder sedimentation. "Flux" is the kernel of the concretion. A rest. Arrest.

And so for day 1937

Profs and Porn Star Names

A most curious error crept into My Mother Was a Computer by N. Katherine Hayles. Montreal professor Eric Savoy appears as Ric Savoy in a discussion of a Henry James story (In the Cage). The name change takes on a deliciously twist since the passage in question is about rent boys and "Ric Savoy" sounds like a hustler. Here is the context in Hayles:

One might generalize this argument by noting that it applies to anyone occupying the subject position of woman. There is historical evidence that at the time James wrote the story he may have been aware of recent scandals involving telegraph boys and prostitution. In Ric Savoy's reading of the story, the allusions to prostitution stand in for the more scandalous prospect of male homosexual prostitution and the fear that the lower-class telegraph boys would testify against their aristocratic clients.
Google Books review function is useful for tagging such errors and generating a list of errata.

And so for day 1936