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Michael Pollan
“Mowing the lawn, I felt like I was battling the earth rather than working it; each week it sent forth a green army and each week I beat it back with my infernal machine. Unlike every other plant in my garden, the grasses were anonymous, massified, deprived of any change or development whatsoever, not to mention any semblance of self-determination. I ruled a totalitarian landscape.
Hot monotonous hours behind the mower gave rise to existential speculations. I spent part of one afternoon trying to decide who, it the absurdist drama of lawn mowing, was Sisyphus. Me? The case could certainly be made. Or was it the grass, pushing up through the soil every week, one layer of cells at a time, only to be cut down and then, perversely, encouraged (with lime, fertilizer, etc.) to start the whole doomed process over again? Another day it occurred to me that time as we know it doesn't exist in the lawn, since grass never dies or is allowed to flower and set seed. Lawns are nature purged of sex or death. No wonder Americans like them so much.”
Michael Pollan, Second Nature: A Gardener's Education

Michael Pollan
“The fast-food hamburger has been brilliantly engineered to offer a succulent and tasty first bite, a bite that in fact would be impossible to enjoy if the eater could accurately picture the feedlot and slaughterhouse and the workers behind it or knew anything about the 'artificial grill flavor' that made the first bite so convincing. This is a hamburger to hurry through, no question. By comparison, eating a grass-fed burger when you can picture the green pastures in which the animal grazed is a pleasure of another order, not a simple one, to be sure, but one based on knowledge rather than ignorance and gratitude rather than indifference.
To eat slowly, then, also means to eat deliberately, in the original sense of the word: 'from freedom' instead of compulsion. ”
Michael Pollan

Louise Erdrich
“In praise of mu husband's hair
A woman is alone in labor, for it is an unfortunate fact that there is nobody who can have the baby for you. However, this account would be inadequate if I did not speak to the scent of my husband's hair. Besides the cut flowers he sacrifices his lunches to afford, the purchase of bags of licorice, the plumping of pillows, steaming of fish, searching out of chic maternity dresses, taking over of work, listening to complaints and simply worrying, there was my husband's hair.
His hair has always amazed stylists in beauty salons. At his every first appointment they gather their colleagues around Michael's head. He owns glossy and springy hair, of an animal vitality and resilience that seems to me so like his personality. The Black Irish on Michael's mother's side of the family have changeable hair--his great-grandmother's hair went from black to gold in old age. Michael's went from golden-brown of childhood to a deepening chestnut that gleams Modoc black from his father under certain lights. When pushing each baby I throw my arm over Michael and lean my full weight. When the desperate part is over, the effort, I turn my face into the hair above his ear. It is as though I am entering a small and temporary refuge. How much I want to be little and unnecessary, to stay there, to leave my struggling body at the entrance.
Leaves on a tree all winter that now, in your hand, crushed, give off a dry, true odor. The brass underside of a door knocker in your fingers and its faint metallic polish. Fresh potter's clay hardening on the wrist of a child. The slow blackening of Lent, timeless and lighted with hunger. All of these things enter into my mind when drawing into my entire face the scent of my husband's hair. When I am most alone and drowning and I think I cannot go on, it is breathing into his hair that draws me to the surface and restores my small courage. ”
Louise Erdrich, The Blue Jay's Dance: A Birth Year

Diana Abu-Jaber
“She stares at her knife and wishes she were smarter about things. Wishes she knew how to say something wise or consoling to him, something that wouldn't sound frightened or awkward. But then she remembers the time after her parents' death, when people would approach her and try to explain her loss to her; they said things that were supposed to cure her of her sadness, but that had no effect at all. And she knew then, even when she was nine years old, that there was no wise or consoling thing to say. There were certain helpful kinds of silences, and some were better than others. ”
Diane Abu-Jaber, Crescent

Malcolm Gladwell
“The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. We are desperately lacking in the latter.”
Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

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