Waking for a few minutes in the small hours, I begin to think about words like "soul" and "spiritual" and why I am generally reluctant to use them in general discourse.. The reason is that I am not entirely sure of what they mean. Often I have a good idea but there is something loose and amorphous there which worries me. I am, I realise a materialist, requiring the reassurance of verifiable structures. Others I know use such terms freely and as a rule I have no problem in understanding what they want to convey. Just recently I have had occasion to examine myself on matters which others might call spiritual. I want to ask myself advice, to understand certain facts about my motivation for certain behaviour in the past. Where do I go for such information? After some thought I conclude that my mind contains a reservoir of knowledge, accumulated and inherited for me to search and analyse. Soul, perhaps, a source of spirituality? Having come to that conclusion, I fall asleep. Do I re-awake the wiser?
My daughter and her husband take me to a country pub for lunch. A wood stove burns. The food though simple is perfectly cooked. Two couples in the room where we sit are talking quietly. We too talk quietly. The place seems effortless to help conversation along. Sausages, mashed potatoes (one of the most difficult dishes to prepare properly) and generous garnish of kale brings on a feeling of well being which falls over my shoulders like a cloak. I share a dish sticky toffee pudding consisting of the lightest and most delicate of sponges.
Kale is good for the soul. I've been using quite a bit of it in my cooking this winter.
A potato ricer is the key, I think, and getting the temperatures and seasoning right, but the ricer gives one more leeway even with those. All to do with verifiable structures!
I understand your reticence about the use of the words 'soul' and 'spirit', as well as the latter's many derivatives. The difficulty lies, I suggest, not in their existence but in their definitions, and whether or not the words are used correctly and in the correct context. My comment should not imply that I am against the 'living language' concept, only that I am against lazy, sloppy use of language. And how can one communicate effectively if we cannot agree on the meaning of words?
If you did not re-awake the wiser, perhaps you took a few steps closer to whatever you are seeking.
I've neglected your blog for a while and you appear to have run on ahead. Now you've got "soul" sorted out, try pondering "Heaven". The official view, uttered by Pat Coyne's devout RC brother Brendan, is that we cannot know the mind of God and therefore we shouldn't even try to speculate. Certainly sitting around praising God would be pretty boring and Peter Cook, acting the Devil in a modern-day update of the Faustian pact called Bedazzled, pointed this out.
But things get worse when one considers the options even glancingly. Rock climbers depend on danger to give spice to their sport - but is danger compatible with even the loosest definition of Heaven? Must all climbers therefore go to Hell? You and I have deliberately read books described as "difficult"; surely nothing can be difficult in Heaven. Might one sleep there? To sleep would probably the same as closing one's mind to the deity.
Re. mashed potatoes. I agree about their preparation. Thirty years ago, on a telly programme, one of the Roux brothers said there was no point in making puff pastry. The made-up variety from the supermarket is good enough. VR needed no further encouragement. But have you tried bought-in mash; I fear it's excellent. A residuum of guilt prevents VR buying it all the time but it is making inroads here at Chez Robinson.
R I like the idea of kale being good for the soul. The other day it was also good for the taste buds, still green, buttery and a fine garnish for the mash.
Lucy Ricers are well worth using to get a light airy texture. Fun to use too. But often I forget. Thanks for the reminder.
Tom Thanks. I think I did awake a few steps closer to an understanding of what I was looking for.
RR Heaven of course works well a mataphor. "A man's reach must exceed his grasp or what's a heaven for? No problem in understanding Robert Browning's meaning.
Doesn't this boil down to: man will always be disappointed on earth; heaven will rectify this. Jam tomorrow; in other words, keep your nose clean.
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