I went to Adelaide and looked up:
I also looked inward. Robert Adamson gets how my writing brain works: “Every time I finish a poem I think it’s a miracle. Will I ever write another one?”
Now, looking forward. Honours started on Monday.
The question, as it stands: “How can the personal essay form illuminate how memory inflects our relationship to food?”
I love the word “inflects” in this question. An inflection is a pitch thing. When I was working in call centres (yeah, did that), we’d talk about “upward inflections,” that annoying way that Australians raise the tone of their voice toward the end of sentences, turning everything into a question. Those who did this did it unconsciously, it’s just an accidental part of speech. And that’s how I feel about what memory does to my relationship with certain foods. They’re loaded with memory, and so I’m looking at things through a prism of sorts. There’s an inflection in the way that I view foods, and that’s tied up with memory.
Of the pile of books I was so kindly loaned, I’ve started with Ruth Reichl’s Tender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table. It’s comprised of shorter essays, in which Reichl looks at the different ways that she’s used food throughout her life. It’s not what I’m aiming to do, but I love the way that Reichl uses foods as shorthand for character traits (her grandmother’s cook Alice, for example, makes an apple pie to avoid discussing painful topics, because she’s just the kind of person who’d do that), and also that she recognizes that food isn’t just one thing. It’s functional, and not just for sustenance. It’s social glue, it’s emotional reward or punishment, it’s milestone marker, it’s memory trigger, it’s a source of power and cultural capital. It’s so much more than fuel, and Reichl explores that well through her essays.
I have to blog my honours experience, mainly as a way of tracking my work and thought processes. I had the option of using this blog, or of putting those entries on a separate site. I’ve elected to use the blog attached to the Consilience Lab site – ie, the site attached to my course. I want the clout attached to my work that comes with having the URL attached to a university (yep, SEOs rate that). I also don’t want to bore LGWABP readers with every single thing that’ll be posted on there – I imagine that some of it will be quite dry or not particularly relevant. So, things that are relevant or remotely interesting will land on both blogs. The aim of LGWABP has always been to track my work and discoveries, and I don’t want my honours year to be silent on here. It’s an important part of my journey.
Now, to construct a meaningful library search.