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Bloomsfat Dalutation

Among the things WordPress keeps track of are (some of) the search terms people use to find your site. Today someone found this blog with “bloomsfat dalutation.” Google corrects this to “bloomsday salutation” and one of my posts comes up second in that search.

I don’t know what a bloomsfat dalutation is, other than wild, beautiful, Joycean, and entirely worthy of existence. Right now all I can do is create this post for it. Maybe someday it will find further fruition, discovering its form and function within the language, the referent for which it longs. Until then may it remain here in its solitary searchable radiant reality, as long as this blog shall live. God bless you bloomsfat dalutation, and whoever it was who created you!

(Yes, looking at my keyboard I can see as well as the Google algorithm (more creepily) can how a plausible typo of four consecutive letters changes “bloomsday salutation” into “bloomsfat dalutation.” So what? This is how evolution works. A fruit bat is no mistake, a dandelion is no mistake, and neither is bloomsfat dalutation.)

Bloomsday, A Marquee Event

On Charlottesville’s beautiful Downtown Mall:

Bloomsday Marquee.png

A short distance away at the New Dominion Bookshop:


Everyone Knows Life Is Terrible

When we say life is terrible, that is not to say it is only terrible, or always terrible, or primarily terrible. It is a funny thing to speak of “life” in this way at all, but we do, and when we do, so grandly and embracingly, as if lunging spread-armed into the air, greedily and graciously, omni-adverbally, we must catch the terrible along with everything else. The terrible in all of its terribleness. And horribleness. And despair. Despair, which negates life even as it comes from life, dies with life, and is found nowhere else.

A life may not be terrible; that would certainly be the life. But life, articleless life, must be terrible, as it is grand, too short, a bitch, beautiful, and ain’t fair. Everyone knows this.

When we say “everyone knows” we do not usually mean that everyone knows. Why say what everyone knows, only to point out that everyone knows it?  We may mean something like— you’d have to be an moron not to know this, a complete moron what is wrong with you?  Whenever you are tempted to use the “everyone knows” formulation you might want to pause and ask yourself— am I just being a jerk?

But when I say “Everyone Knows Life Is Terrible” it is not like that. Okay, it is a little like that. But more. It is aspirational; a hope, a dream, a plea. It is like saying “We Are All In This Together.”  That may be sort of true and sort of false, but when you declare it you proffer both a promise and a request. The promise to live it as truth, the request that others do the same.

Everyone knows life is terrible. Here at least we find a common bond, certain foundation, and guiding light. As experience it isolates, as truth it brings together. Experiencing the worst, or just the bad enough, you will find yourself terribly alone. But not without this connecting thread of shared understanding. Let us cherish that thread, which only a monster would want to cut, to deny what we all know, that life is terrible. (Of course, life being terrible, there are monsters.)

Since everyone possesses it, no distinction can be claimed for having this knowledge. This does not keep people from trying, and not just teenagers. This is one of the main reasons for affirming that everyone knows— to undermine the preening superior attitude of those who would claim the obvious as their own personal illumination, that they might lord it over a common herd of dimly cheerful idiots. The common know, the cheerful know, even the idiots know. They may just be better at handling their knowledge than the grim darklords of affectation.

What we need is always love and courage. Everyone knows that life is terrible— here we can begin, and go on, and find out what else life may be.

Twenty Years of Missing You


Nathaniel edit

Nathaniel Heifetz, March 10, 1974 – March 15, 1999



Happy Bloomsday, Now & Forever

Could Bloom of 7 Eccles Street forsee Bloom of Flowerville?
In loose allwool garments with Harris tweed cap, price 8/6, and useful garden boots with elastic gussets and wateringcan, planting aligned young firtrees, syringing, pruning, staking, sowing hayseed, trundling a weedladen wheelbarrow without excessive fatigue at sunset amid the scent of newmown hay, ameliorating the soil, multiplying wisdom, achieving longevity.

— from Ulysses, by James Joyce


One year ago tonight as I walked home whiskeyfull from the C&O bar, as I walked through the silent unsuspecting Bloomsnight streets of Charlottesville, I knew what my next Bloomsday message would be. The truth of it stirred and grew within me, a firm conviction of what finally needed to be said. Unfortunately I do not quite remember what that was. Maybe tonight it will come back to me, as I repeat the journey.

For now let us leave it at this: Happy Bloomsday to you, each and every one of
you, those reading this and those not, the good and the bad, the drunk and the sober, the Irish and the English and the Miscellaneous. May the spirit of Bloomsday never leave you, even when you would really rather it did, and may the memory of Bloomsdays past be a comfort to you in whatever hard and bookless times it is your fate to endure.

Until we meet again, on Bloomsday…

Let There Be Darkness

It did not happen the way people say. Yes, in the beginning all was formless and void. But it was not dark, quite the opposite. Through endless transparency a pitiless total light glared, with the veracity of an infinite interrogation room, holding the perfect stillness of a crystalline desert. Nothing could exist that was not seen, and nothing was seen.

And into this void and waste God, in his loneliness, looked. And God said, Let there be darkness: and there was darkness.

And through the brightness the darkness billowed like smoke, roiled and rolled it over the face of the colorless waters. Light stopped, recoiled, went on, thinned, hued, divided, took texture, was overthrown; became another. Blackness covered blankness, the nothing covered to where something could go. The void was hid, the world began.

And God saw this and it was good.

And into the dark and the light and the misty gray God hurled innumerable beings of darkness– opaque, mysterious, every one holding a secret within. With these God populated the earth, creatures great and small, moving and still, of the air and of of the earth and of the sea. All inwardly and outwardly articulated, dense with truth, probed by the the light but never fully known to it.

And God saw this and it was good.

And in the darkness marvels stirred. Love and dreams and the excitements of murder. Freedom. Fungi. Speculations, imaginations, copulations. Worms toiled through dark rich-scented soil; sightless fishes darted through lightless depths. Being found its shadow; its shade, flavor, depth, and life, unflattened by all-pervasive light.

And light? It grew sulky at first, for the loss of its total dominion. But soon enough light discovered the gift that only darkness could give it: its beauty. And light rejoiced that it was beautiful, and with every beam and glimmer it sang out praises to God, for creating the darkness through which it may shine.

And God? God saw that there was what could not be seen, and it was good. And God leaned back, and rested, and wondered what would happen next.

The Broccoli of Apocalypse

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.  (Revelation 3:16-17)

I would not normally quote this passage. Partly on account of the infamous source. When people start quoting from the Book of Revelation, you know there is no puppy around the corner.

And this particular passage, it is a little harsh. We all understand the basic sentiment: mild is boring, bland is no fun. Taco Bell has a similar message, though of dubious sincerity. (For a contrary, Chinese view of the matter, see Francois Jullien’s In Praise of Blandness.) Setting aside an actual contextual and theological reading, we might be tempted to an assent, or even a “Hallelujah!” But Jesus, “spue thee out of my mouth”! That’s gross, and I think it means eternal damnation.

And does lukewarm deserve the bad rap it gets? (This passage could have contributed to that stigma– the Bible used to be very influential.) Suppose we replaced it with “room temperature.” Everybody loves room temperature. That is why we keep our rooms at room temperature. It is comfortable and will not kill us, as most temperatures will. A person who is neither cold nor hot, but room temperature (not literally, for that would be a corpse), is someone you feel okay hanging out with. Why would you spue?

But there is a situation where I find this bit of godly lowdown quite apposite. That is with the subject of broccoli. When raw it is a great snack, crisp, bold and vigorous. When cooked all through to a gentle softness, seasoned as you like it, it is a warm and nourishing complement to any meal. But between the Raw and the Cooked there is a gap, a Forbidden Zone, and I do not want my broccoli to fall there.  Astonishingly, many people do. They favor half-assed broccoli, neither the one nor the other and having the virtues of neither. That kind of broccoli makes me want to, if not spue, then at least not eat. It is just confused. There is no intriguing ambiguity or blending of qualities, it is just underdone broccoli. People of this ilk will often describe properly cooked broccoli as “mushy.” That is just a lie. The softness of well cooked broccoli is a delight to the mouth, of subtle bite, a generous yielding not without integrity. It is no baby food. If you give it a good long chew and then spue it out and then spoon it back into your mouth — as I have done in the interest of culinary science — you will have no trouble discerning a difference between the cooked vegetable and the mush.

Maybe underdone broccoli is acceptable in a stir-fry. I will grant you that. But the better option is just to leave the broccoli out of your stir-fry. Save your broccoli for the scenarios where it can shine. A snack platter with a bowl of dip. Or well steamed and then seasoned with salt, pepper, lemon, butter, grated ginger, fish sauce, rose water, myrrh or whatever pleases you best.

I know a biblical literalist is going to come along and say, “Wait a minute, this passage of holy scripture speaks of the cold and the hot. And a thing we all know about broccoli, when it is not blanketed with a layer of molten cheese or embedded in the volcanic heat of a casserole, but just naked on our plate, is that it loses heat faster than burning brimstone in a font of holy water. The first bite may be hot, but very soon you are faced with a limp and, yes, lukewarm vegetable next to your pork chop.”

I respond as I always do to biblical literalists. What about The Song of Songs? How do you guys take that literally? Do you say, “Uh, there’s this chick, and she has baby deer for tits. Just sticking out of her chest I guess. Weird, but this guy still thinks she’s hot.”? Please, don’t come to me with your Literal Word of God bullshit and your broccoli trutherism. My God is bigger than yours, and He speaks in parables and poetry, and divides all broccoli in twain, as with the sheep and the goats, sending these to the Heavenly crisper, and those to the stove-top of Hell. And all is Delicious.


Disambiguation: Albert “Cubby” Broccoli was a film producer from Queens best known for producing the James Bond films, from Dr. No to Octopussy. His credits also include Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Jazz Boat. Born in 1909, he met his personal apocalypse in 1996. What he knows now, no one can say. That was the end of Broccoli.