But those trees! Those trees! Those Truffula Trees! All my life I’d been searching for trees such as these. The touch of their tufts was much softer than silk. And they had the sweet smell of fresh butterfly milk.
I felt a great leaping of joy in my heart. I knew just what I’d do! I unloaded my cart.
In no time at all, I had built a small shop. Then I chopped down a Truffula Tree with one chop. And with great skillful skill and with great speedy speed, I took the soft tuft, and I knitted a Thneed!
The instant I’d finished, I heard a ga-Zump! I looked. I saw something pop out of the stump of the tree I’d chopped down. It was sort of a man. Describe him?… That’s hard. I don’t know if I can.
He was shortish. And oldish. And brownish. And mossy. And he spoke with a voice that was sharpish and bossy.
"Mister!" he said with a sawdusty sneeze, "I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues. And I’m asking you, sir, at the top if my lungs”- he was very upset as he shouted and puffed- "What’s that THING you’ve made out of my Truffula tuft?"
"Look, Lorax," I said."There’s no cause for alarm. I chopped just one tree. I am doing no harm. I’m being quite useful. This thing is a Thneed. A Thneed’s a Fine-Something-That-All-People-Need! It’s a shirt. It’s a sock. It’s a glove, It’s a hat. But it has other uses. Yes, far beyond that. You can use it for carpets. For pillows! For sheets! Or curtains! Or covers for bicycle seats!”
The Lorax said, "Sir! You are crazy with greed. There is no one on earth who would buy that fool Thneed!”
But the very next minute I proved he was wrong. For, just at that minute, a chap came along, and he thought the Thneed I had knitted was great. He happily bought it for three ninety-eight
I laughed at the Lorax, “You poor stupid guy! You never can tell what some people will buy.”
"I repeat," cried the Lorax, "I speak for the trees!"
"I’m busy," I told him. "Shut up, if you please."
I meant no harm. I most truly did not. But I had to grow bigger.So bigger I got. I biggered my factory. I biggered my roads. I biggered my wagons. I biggered the loads of the Thneeds I shipped out. I was shipping them forth to the South! To the East! To the West! To the North! I went right on biggering… selling more Thneeds. And I biggered my money, which everyone needs.
2-1/4 cups dry chickpeas, picked over, washed and drained 7-1/2 cups water 3 medium onions, peeled and very finely chopped About 2-1/2 teaspoons salt (adjust this to your taste) 1 fresh, hot green chili, finely chopped (I used about 1/4 of a jalapeno) 1 Tablespoon very finely grated fresh ginger (grate after peeling) 4 Tablespoons lemon juice 6 Tablespoons vegetable oil 2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped (I used a drained can of ready-cut tomatoes) 1 Tablespoon ground coriander seeds 1 Tablespoon ground cumin seeds 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric 2 teaspoons garam masala 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Soak the chickpeas in the water for 20 hours. Put chickpeas and liquid in a large pot and bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat and simmer gently for an hour and a half, or until chickpeas are tender. (Note: alternatively, you can also skip the pre-soak and just throw everything into a slow cooker and cook the chickpeas on low all day!) Strain the chickpeas and save the cooking liquid.
Put 2 Tablespoons of the chopped onions, 1/2 teaspoon salt, green chili, ginger, and lemon juice into a tea cup. Mix well and set aside.
Heat the oil in a heavy, wide, casserole-type pot over a medium-high flame. When hot, put in the remaining chopped onions. Stir and fry for 8-10 minutes until the onion bits develop reddish-brown spots. Add the tomatoes. Continue to stir and fry another 5-6 minutes, mashing the tomato pieces with the back of a slotted spoon. Put in the coriander, cumin, and turmeric. Stir and cook for about 30 seconds. Now put in the drained chickpeas, 1-3/4 cups of their cooking liquid, 2 teaspoons of salt, the garam masala, and the cayenne. Stir to mix and bring to a simmer. Cover, turn heat to low, and cook very gently for 20 minutes. Stir a few times during this period.
Add the mixture in the tea cup. Stir again to mix. Serve hot or cold.
“Everybody’s born with some different thing at the core of their existence. An that thing, whatever it is, becomes like a heat source that runs each person from the inside. I have one too, of course. Like everyone else. But sometimes it gets out of hand.”—Murakami
“The woman has too much skin for her bones and too many wrinkles for her years, as if her face were some animal of its own, slowly descending her skull each day, until one day it would cling to her jaw, and one day fall off completely, landing in the woman’s hands for her to look at and say, “This is the face I’ve worn my whole life.”—Johnathan Safran Foer
NICHI NICHI KORE KO NICHI: EVERY DAY IS A BEAUTIFUL DAY
What if I ask thirty-two questions?
What if I stop asking now and then?
Will that make things clear?
Is communication something made clear?
What is communication?
Music, what does it communicate?
Is what’s clear to me clear to you?
Is music just sounds?
Then what does it communicate?
Is a truck passing by music?
If I can see it, do I have to hear it too?
If I don’t hear it, does it still communicate?
If while I see it I can’t hear it, but hear something else, say an egg-beater, because I”m inside looking out, does the truck communicate or the egg-beater, which communicates?
Which is more musical, a truck passing by a factory or a truck passing by a music school?
Are the people inside the school musical and the ones outside unmusical?
What if the ones inside can’t hear very well, would that change my question?
Do you know what I mean when I say inside the school?
Are sounds just sounds or are they Beethoven?
People aren’t sounds, are they?
Is there such a thing as silence?
Even if I get away from people, do I still have to listen to something?
Say I’m off in the woods, do I have to listen to a stream babbling?
Is there always something to hear, never any peace and quiet?
If my head is full of harmony, melody, and rhythm, what happens to me when the telephone rings, to my piece and quiet, I mean?
And if it was European harmony, melody, and rhythm in my head, what has happened to the history of, say, Javanese music, with repect, that is to say, to my head?
Are we getting anywhere asking questions?
Where are we going?
Is this the twenty-eighth question?
Are there any important questions?
"How do you need to cautiously proceed in dualistic terms?"
Do I have two more questions?
And, now, do I have none?
Now that I’ve asked thirty-two questions, can I ask fourty-four more?
I can, but may I?
Why must I go on asking questions?
Is there any reason in asking why?
Would I ask why if questions were not words but were sounds?
If wonds are sounds, are they musical or are they just noises?
If sounds are noises but not words, are they meaningful?
Are they musical?
Say there are two sounds and two people and one of each is beautiful, is there between all four any communication?
And if there are rules who made them, I ask you?
Does it begin somewhere, I mean, and if so, where does it stop?
What will happen to me or to you if we have to be somewhere where beauty isn’t?
I ask you, sometimes, too, sounds happening in time, what will happen to our experience of hearing, yours, mine, our ears, hearing, what will happen if sounds being beautiful stop sometime and the only sounds to hear are not beautiful to hear but are ugly, what will happen to us?
Would we ever be able to get so that we thought the ugly soundds were beautiful?
If we drop beauty, what have we got?
Have we got truth?
Have we got religion?
Do we have a mythology?
Would we know what to do with one if we had one?
Have we got a way to make money?
And if money is made, will it be spent on music?
If Russia spends sixty million for the Brussels Fair, lots of it for music and dance, and America spends one-tenth of that, six million about, does that mean that one out of ten Americans is as musical and kinesthetic as all the Russians put together?
If we drop money, what have we got?
Since we haven’t yet dropped truth, where shall we go looking for it?
Didn’t we say we weren’t going, or did we just ask where we were going?
If we didn’t say we weren’t going, why didn’t we?
If we had any sense in our heads, wouldn’t we know the truth instead of going around looking for it?
How othersie would we, as they say, be able to drink a glass of water?
We know, don’t we, everybody else’s religion, mythology, and philosophy and metaphysics backwards and forwards, so what need would we have for one of our own if we had one, but we don’t, do we?
But music, do we have any music?
Wouldn’t it be better to just drop music too?
Then what would we have?
Do you mean to say it’s a purposeless play?
Is that what it is when you get up and hear the first sound of each day?
Is it possible that I could go on monotonously asking questions forever?
Would I have to know how many questions i was going to ask?
Would I Have to know how to count in order to ask questions?
Do I have to know when to stop? Is this the one chance we have to be alive and ask a question?
This is how we are different from other animals, she said. But keep your eyes open so you can see the cloth. We all had white cloth napkins over our faces and the light glowed through them. It seemed brighter under there, as if the cloth actually filtered out the darkness that was in the rest of the room. The dark rays that come off of things and people. The instructor walked around the room as she talked so that she was everywhere at once. Her face and permed hair were forgotten, there was just the voice and the white light and these two things combined felt like the truth.
You will never be a part of the world. She was standing quite near.
Humans each make their own worlds in the area in front of their own face. Now she was across the room.
Why do you think that we are the only animal that kisses? She was near again.
Because the area in front of our faces is our most intimate zone. She drew a breath. This is why humans are the only romantic animal!
We were quiet and wondering under our napkins. How did she know this? What about dogs? Don’t dogs feel everything we do times one hundred? But we couldn’t see to form a chain of doubt between each other’s eyes. And her voice had a vibrant certainty that made believing her feel liberating and obvious like the truth was there all along. Why pull your finger back when you can just let it be part of the hand? It is the hand! Of course! Fingers and hands are all one thing, these distinctions are like shackles, I see the light, it is coming through the napkin.
The tiny world in front of your face is an illusion, and romance itself is an illusion! We gasped. But it was a delayed gasp, we were a slow group. Just the distribution of the napkins had been hard to organize. We had finally settled on Take one and pass the rest down.
Romance isn’t real, and neither is your world under the cloth. But because you are human, you can never lift the cloth. So you might as well learn how to be the most romantic woman you can be. This is what humans can do: romance. You may now remove the cloth.
We almost felt that we would not be able to, because we were human, but it slid right off. The cloth was just a metaphor and the auditorium seemed darker than before and we were forty women. I had hoped that we would now be another type of animal, one that could be part of the world. But the cloth was just a metaphor and we were forty women gathered on a Saturday morning to become more romantic. One woman still had the napkin on her head, possibly asleep.
We worked hard because we wanted results. We mirrored each other and we breathed in No and breathed out Yes. We wrapped our hands around our own ankles and pretended they were someone else’s, and then we tried to run and pretended that someone else was trying to run, someone we loved, was trying to run away, and we held them by the ankles and we breathed in No and breathed out Yes and released the ankles and ran, all around the auditorium, forty women. Then we came back to the circle and talked about pheromones and other kinds of mists.
Remember, you don’t have to make the whole world romantic, or even the whole bedroom. Just the small space in front of your face. A very manageable territory, even the working women will agree. Because when he looks at you (or she! Romance has no biases!) he has to look through the air in front of your face. Is that space polluted? Is it rosy? Is it misty? Think about these questions during the lunch break.
We ate our sandwiches and looked at each other through the air in front of our faces. It looked clear but maybe it wasn’t. We thought hard about this while we drank the provided soda. This could change everything.
I got up and stood alone in the hallway and pressed my face into the wall. It was wood-panelled and smelled like pee as so many things do. Romance. My apartment. Romance. My Honda. Romance. My skin condition. Romance. My job.
I turned my head and pressed my other cheek against the wall. The bell was calling us back together for the wrap-up session.
Romance. My utter lack of friends who shared my interests. Romance. The Soul. Romance. Life on other planets. Romance. I stared down the hall. Someone was down there. It was Theresa who I’d partnered with during breath-mirroring. We had synchronized our breaths and then syncopated them and then we had talked about how that felt and which one was more romantic. Syncopated was the right answer. I walked down the hall and saw that Theresa was sitting on the floor next to a chair. This is always a bad sign. It’s a slippery slope and it’s best to just sit in chairs, to eat when hungry, to sleep and rise and work. But we have all been there. Chairs are for people and you’re not sure if you are one. I kneeled beside her. I rubbed her back and then I stopped because I thought it might be too familiar, but that felt cold so I patted her shoulder which meant I was only touching her a third of the time. The other two-thirds of the time my hand was either traveling towards her or away from her. The longer I patted her the harder it became; I was too aware of the intervals between the pats and I couldn’t find a natural rhythm. I felt like I was hitting a conga drum and then as soon as I thought of this I had to beat out a little cha cha cha and Theresa began to cry. I stopped with the patting and hugged her and she hugged me back. I had made everything just horrible enough to bring Theresa’s sadness down to the next level and I joined her here. It was a place of overflowing collaborative misery and we cried together. We could smell each other’s shampoo and the laundry detergents we had chosen and I smelled that she didn’t smoke but someone she loved did, and she could feel that I was large, but not genetically, not permanently, just until I found my way again and the snaps on our jeans pressed in to each other and our breasts exchanged their tired histories, tales of being over- and under-utilized, floods and famines and never mind, just go. We wetted each other’s blouses and pushed our crying ahead of us like a lantern, searching out new and forgotten sadnessness, ones that had died politely years ago but in fact had not died, and came to life with a little water. We had loved people we really shouldn’t have loved and then married other people in order to forget our impossible loves, or we had once called out hello into the cauldron of the world and then run away before anyone could respond.
Always running and always wanting to go back but always being farther and farther away until finally it was just a scene in a movie where a girl says hello into the cauldron of the world and you are just a woman watching the movie with her husband on the couch and his legs are across your lap and you have to go to the bathroom. There were things of this general scale to cry about. But the biggest reason to cry was to drench the air in front of our faces. It was romance. Not the falling in love kind, but the sharing of the air in front of our eyes and shoulders and chests and stomachs and thighs. There was so much air to share. Then gradually we slowed, then stopped, and after a long still pause – goodbye – we broke apart into our respective selves. And then the euphoria came, warm winds from Hawaii, drying our tears and clearing the path back into the material world. It was joy to be there, beside the chair. We held each other’s hands and laughed with feigned embarrassment which gradually took hold and became real.
We stood and Theresa wiped off her backside briskly, like she had taken a fall. I pulled the cuffs of my cardigan down. We walked down the hall and entered the auditorium just in time to help stack the chairs. There was no system for stacking and so we accidentally made many sub-stacks that were too heavy to lift and join together. The stacks of various heights stood alone like ice floes. We gathered our purses and walked to our cars.
“Destiny. My destiny! Droll thing life is - that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose. The most you can hope from it is some knowledge of yourself - that comes too late - a crop of inextinguishable regrets.”—Conrad