I think of the New York Times as a website first and newspaper second, not that these are mutually exclusive things, certainly not in this milieu. I think of the [New York Times] magazine as a magazine because I generally read it in print. Anyway, I love the New York Times as website. I look at the slide shows, watch Mark Bittman’s videos and enjoy the “Most Popular” emailed, blogged and searched articles for quick ideas of where to head next. These are all features made possible by the Times as website phenomenon, features I like.
It is through this interface that I read today’s “A House Not for Mere Mortals.” Awkward headline aside, I’ve been transfixed by the text-based article and audio slide show all morning. To sort of summarize, this apparently important couple has built this house in East Hampton. It’s hyper-colorful, very “open,” and, probably most notably, has a strange undulating, bumpy, moon-like floor throughout. The basic idea of the place, as I read and hear it, is to make dwellers uncomfortable. That through discomfort, trying to find our balance, etc., we remain young and vital. Ms. Gins, the woman in the couple, says, “It’s immoral that people have to die.” I think that’s absurd, it’s neither moral nor immoral that people have to die, it is a fact of nature completely detached from any reasonable sense of morality, but I digress. The point is these folks seems to think it is through challenge, discomfort, whatever you want to call it, that we remain young and stay alive.
This of course got me to thinking about my ever-growing relationship with cilantro. Now I’m not one to draw metaphors, (I have a penchant for the literal) but I’ve never shied away from drawing parallels. As I’ve written through other lenses before, this cilantro hate thing isn’t always bad. Maybe my deep passion for hating cilantro keeps me young and virile — alive even. It’s all-too easy in our culture of convenience, materialism and excess to become, well, comfortable. We ignore the world’s injustices and straight-up outrages, many at the hands of W, but more at the hands of our own unforgivable (yes immoral) selfishness, isolation and indifference. And in doing so we destroy ourselves, slowly but surely. The environment’s shit. Iraq is a quagmire of the finest order. And don’t get me started on our prison system.
I think we have a tendency, as Americans and maybe as people, to avoid conflict (except war, we like that) and to shun criticism. To complain is bad, negative. I agree in a sense. I actually quite hate complaining (of the my life is so hard variety; no, your life is probably not so hard) but a healthy dose of criticism, of questioning as I think of it, maybe I’m alone here, but I think it’s healthy, it’s good and it might just save all our lives in the long-run.
While I don’t pretend that my cilantro hate is going to save anyone’s life or even really perpetuate my own, for me, this passionate hate stirs a spirit of criticism that I like and find good, however ostensibly negative or contrary. Cilantro makes me uncomfortable. It makes me frown. It throws off my balance. Eating it makes me immediately seek homeostasis of some order (water, wine, other food, anything, please, now). In other words, eating it, musing on it, writing about it shakes things up. And shaking things up, to quote Martha Stewart, is a good thing.