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November 22, 2017

"The Writing of Stones" — Roger Caillois





Surrealist and sociologist Roger Callois was known for his writings on biomimicry, especially within the insect world, pareidolia and lithic scrying. His latter interest provided us with "The Writing of Stones," a book in which he unravels the 'unfathomable graphic madness' etched onto the rocks contained within the 'archives of geology.' Each chapter of the book is dedicated to a species of rock — in each he channels ever increasingly dense, extravagant, and at times morbid tales from the authorless inscriptions each stone contains.


"Life appears: a complex dampness, destined to an intricate future and charged with secret virtues, capable of challenge and creation. A kind of precarious slime, of surface mildew, in which a ferment is already working. A turbulent, spasmodic sap, a presage and expectation of a new way of being, breaking with mineral perpetuity and boldly exchanging it for the doubtful privilege of being able to tremble, decay, and multiply."


About the book, from the flaps:

"The Writing of Stones" is a fascinating meditation on the human imagination contemplating the interior of stones. Caillois examines patterns that are revealed by polishing sections of minerals such as agate, jasper, and onyx. He considers the impact these configurations have had upon the human imagination throughout history and he reviews man's attempt to categorize and explain them.


Marguerite Yourcenar [in her introduction] points out that "there had taken place in [his] intellect the equivalent of the Copernican revolution: man was no longer the center of the universe, except in the sense that the center is everywhere; man, like all the rest, was a cog in the whole system of turning wheels. Quite early on, having entered 'the forbidden laboratories,’ Caillois applied himself to the study of diagonals which link the species, of the recurrent phenomena that act, so to speak as a matrix of forms." Caillois found the presence throughout the universe of a sensibility and a consciousness analogous to our own. One way which this consciousness expresses itself is in a "natural fantasy" that is evident in the pictures found in stones. Man's own aesthetic may then be no more than one of many manifestations of an all-pervasive aesthetic that reveals itself in the natural world.


Read or browse the 1970 book in its entirety here.

Free, the way we like it.

November 22, 2017 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

What is it?


Answer here this time tomorrow.

Hint: smaller than a bread box.

Another: much.

November 22, 2017 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Bacon Express


All possible love to Rhik Samadder (above), whose Guardian "Kitchen  Gadgets" feature has quickly become not only my favorite feature in that paper but also my favorite feature anywhere.

He wrote, "This toaster for bacon is the abomination we deserve. It looks like a clutch bag for meat, and left my house smelling like a Gloucester Old Spot for a week."

But wait — there's more!



Bacon Express is a heated trapezoid enclosed by hinged metal plates. Thin cuts of cured pork are laterally arranged and cooked on the element.

Climate change, developing-world debt, Baywatch rebooted with Zac Efron – all things for which history will judge us poorly. Yet they don't have the moronic clout of this week]s abomination: a bacon toaster. A toaster, but for bacon. I love bacon, but what is going on? It's actually called Bacon Express, which is somewhat zippier. The idea is to lay rashers of thick or thin bacon over a hot, pommel horse-like structure at the center of the device, close up the sides like a burning metal briefcase, and wait for the bacon to cook within.

Despite my initial monumental prejudice, the machine does express an audacious, low-key luxury: crisp art-deco lines, Orient Express font, triple-striped silver trim. It is weirdly classy, like a valise or an upmarket clutch. I hold it, picturing myself a social climber with a noir-ish background, turning heads at a debutante ball. ("Those jealous high society girls would never know the secret of her dazzling allure — a briefcase full of bacon!")

Snapping back to reality, I arrange six streaky rashers like wet socks on a radiator. The engineering of the device is as shonky as the graphic design is good. One hot metal plate keeps detaching from its wing and jamming upright; I have to push it down with a wooden spoon. During cooking, it starts to pop open, which is actually helpful because you can't see what is happening inside as you can with a grill or pan. Overcooked bacon is a clear danger here, despite the illuminated timer dial. Forget the name — Bacon Express does not cook faster than other methods and is quite a lot more dangerous. It's a good advertisement for ovens, though, which have extractor hoods. Here, smoke billows and fat renders and solidifies in the crumb tray, making the house stink for days. You would think a Glade plug-in flavored like a Gloucester Old Spot is a dream come true; I promise you it is not. Streaky rashers are lovely, but to stuff a satchel with them is insanity. Don't go bacon my heart. (I couldn't if I fried.)



£44.95 (bacon not included).

November 22, 2017 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

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