No, not Leonardo da Vinci’s famous mural, and not my own last, last supper, although you can never know for sure, but a metaphor for putting yourself in the presence of virtual, or depending on what internet slang you use, “invisible” friends. And also a sort of bowing out of writing new posts for the next couple of days, since I have a work project due this weekend, which will take a lot of time with “rubrics” and such. It doesn’t pay all that much, but I have been told in glowing terms how good it will look on my
If you follow a blog for any length of time, sooner or later the babble disentangles itself into discrete human voices, humans which you will probably never shake hands or share a cup of coffee with, but people you have ended up spending some enjoyable hours with. And yes, you would like to be in the same room with them, somehow.
I think my all time favorite discussion is here, in a thread with most of my favorite commenters, that turned into a recipe discussion about Welsh rabbit. It was even more poignant because my personal life had taken a turn for the worse, and I was living between a place with no electricity and another place with no phone connection, charging my laptop daily in a storage area, packing by candlelight, trying to avoid the gang members upstairs who were running what turned out to be a meth lab, and trying to avoid my new landlord who turned out to be beating his pregnant wife. In the midst of all of that, the internet was the only sane place to retreat to. Suddenly one of the voices got me on his wavelength with “Don’t you also beat an egg into it, with a little worcestershire sauce and good sharp mustard? All poured steaming over a thick toast of grainy bread? Garnished with parsley and course-ground pepper?” I could touch the bread and smell the pepper. The voice was (and is) an axis on a rotating planet.
Virtual connection isn’t always enough though. Sometimes I want a tangible reminder of the lively thoughts, something I can touch, before the inevitable hour those things retreat into the background. I don’t have all the ingredients for the Welsh rabbit (or rarebit), but I do have some fresh rye bread, Jarlsberg cheese, and peppercorns.
And last night I picked up a new bottle of Australian port.
And of course, right next to the only supermarket in Chicago that carries Jarlsberg cheese and the only liquor store in Chicago with Stone’s ginger wine is…Powell’s used bookstore. So I couldn’t resist a dead-tree version of some Valéry poems. So far, I’m not that impressed with his famous “Le Cimetiere Marin” (although I like “That sea forever starting and restarting.” La mer, la mer, toujours recommencée!)… but “Les Pas“…oh, my! Echoes of Rumi who traveled to Damascus looking for Shems (who had probably met an untimely end), only to find Shems had been in his soul all along.
Is it any accident that it was bread and wine Jesus shared with his friends before his departure (a much older ceremony), telling them to do it “in remembrance of me”? Of course he reappeared, but when he did, he was resurrected, changed, and no one recognized him at first. Things end, summer dies and is resurrected, one door closes and another door opens. And just as one ingests the communication elements and “eats God”, perhaps becoming God?–as we choose our companions, virtual or otherwise, we also choose who we want to become more like, whose values we are closest to, sometimes even whose mannerisms we will end up unconsciously copying or being copied by. When we touch bread and wine with our invisible friends, we are also touching those invisible qualities of our own we want to endure. Well, this is getting way too metaphysical for me, where I am always out of my depth, so maybe I’ll just think of it more like Omar Khayyam’s “a loaf of bread, a jug of wine”. Looking up the Rubaiyat now, I see it’s really ” a loaf of bread”, “a flask of wine”, and a “book of verse”, so it looks like I did the right ritual after all.
And now, as Robert Frost says, “I have promises to keep…”