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S is for Sad

"...and for the mysterious appetite that often surges in us when our hearts seem about to break and our lives seem too bleakly empty.  Like every other physical phenomenon, there is always good reason for this hunger if we are blunt enough to recognize it.

"The prettifiers of human passion choose to think that a man who has just watched his true love die is lifted above such ugly things as food, that he is exalted by his grief, that his mind dwells exclusively on thoughts of eternity and the hereafter....The truth is that most bereaved souls crave nourishment more tangible than prayers:  they want a steak.  What is more, they need a steak.  Preferably they need it rare, grilled, heavily salted, for that way it is most easily digested, and most quickly turned into the glandular whip their tired adrenals cry for.

"A prime story of this need is the chapter in Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel, just after Ben has died, when his two racked brothers begin to laugh and joke like young colts, and then go in the dawn to Ben's favorite all-night beanery and eat an enormous, silly meal.  Another good example is in DH Lawrence's Sons and Lovers, as I remember.  There are many more, all of them shocking, and yet strangely reassuring too, like some kinds of music.

"Perhaps that is because they are true, far past prettiness.  They tell us what we then most need to be reminded of, that underneath the anguish of death and pain and ugliness are the facts of hunger and unquenchable life, shining, peaceful.  It is as if our bodies, wiser than we who wear them,
call out for encouragement and strength and, in spite of us and of the patterns of proper behavior we have learned, compel us to answer, and to eat."

MFK Fisher, How to Cook a Wolf


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