Author: amory

Despair and Imagination

I was overwhelmed with despair, surely multi-valent. I was inconsolable, untouchable, reactive, helpless. I watched joy pass but could not reach to taste it.

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The Case for Conspiracy Theory

By the end of 2021 a great deal of unrelated material had been collapsed together in an attempt to discredit any and all points of view divergent from public health policy. Derogation and censorship have forced intimacy upon subcultures that might otherwise have remained separate. Thanks to the wholesale vilification of “vaccine hesitancy” pacifist alternative health movements find common cause with Trumpist militants and European neo-nazis. They deserve disaggregation.

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Frames

Recently I had the opportunity to listen in on a 2-day strategy conference of experts on the liberation of Palestine. Most of the discussion focused on what social movements scholars call questions of “framing”.

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Communicative Immediacy

I lived and worked for two months with a three generation Italian family. To my sensibilities it seemed that everyone was screaming at each other all the time. No one ever communicated something in a[…]
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Ethical consumption?

What people are likely to do is what their friends are doing, and this is how the hipster movement has helped countless artisan roasters, brewers, bakers and bicycle-builders to build viable businesses.

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Clean

I feel like goldilocks. Every house is either too clean or too dirty for me. The too clean people seem to be avoiding more serious tasks, serving some inherited templates, or punishing themselves for some[…]
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Sciuma

A tableful of Italians are congratulating me for microfoam. I try to raise my voice above the clamor to explain that I would have made

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Business Cards

In 2021 the prospect of introducing myself triggers me to feign death. I lower my eyelids, hold very still, and breathe carefully in hope that my predator will lose interest or become distracted. Like other[…]
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Disruption

As an artist my days and my walls stand ready, empty. I surround myself with thick blank paper and a blockade to deflect news and noise. On the surfaces ahead of my fingertips, coffee turns[…]
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The right to solitude

She’s 26 and her profession seems to be taking sexy photos of herself and keeping track of thousands of likes. Everyone on the farm seems very impressed. She feels sorry for me and constantly invites[…]
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Your body is a temple

Originally a Christian concept from Corinthians 6:19 “What? Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God, and that you[…]
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Superficial Food

After a month in the kitchen, I am still restricted to setting the table. Once I was allowed to stir something, but apparently that was a special situation. Foreigners are seen as culinary toddlers. If we knew what to do with tomatoes we wouldn’t be taking expensive holidays to Italy, now would we?

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Collaboration

I have been looking for a way to connect with people who I can’t dance with. With an otherwise useless man I found connection in the garden, weeding, harvesting, tying. We conflicted terribly in any[…]
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Enough

All this destructiveness cannot be haphazard. She is angry, at everyone, and herself.
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Control versus connection

There are people who I love or admire who have chaotic kitchens, uncomfortable cars, shop in supermarkets, or expect me to respond to spontaneous invitations.
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Herbes de Provence

I brought zucchini directly from the farm. I had even picked it. Sunshine yellow, striped, and deep emerald. Too abundant in some places I’d lived,

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an Italian kitchen

Valentina is 78 and almost always smiling. She is a workaholic. As her daughter takes the first bite of dinner, sitting down for the first time all day after serving 30 guests, Valentina is standing behind her chair and asks “what will we cook tomorrow?”

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Supermarkets

There is a lot to hate about supermarkets: how they treat farmers, deceptive pricing, seductive processed foods, degrading working conditions, chemical smells, and just plain

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Certainty v civility

My job at the moment is to learn how to be in relationship again. With another flawed human. One who like me, is old enough to have preferences and processes. Favorite dish sponges, certainty about[…]
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Post-furniture

“I remember saying to somebody very early on that I just want to make furniture and talk to people about it. And I feel like now I might take the word ‘furniture’ out of it… The customers I’m thinking of can enunciate what they’re looking for in a piece of furniture beyond price. They have an experience in mind or a material connection or an aesthetic. Or they understood the slow movement and they liked the origin story.

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Direct Knowledge

What I’ve learned from a year of pitching… So one question that comes to me is that if I’m going to have to do most of the promotion anyway, why would I give the publisher 85%? For what? The imprimatur of a “real” publisher? Let’s cut out the middlemen and the gatekeepers. And for me, the freedom to write what I want to, design the presentation, and launch it promptly is as important to my creative process as getting paid.

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Deep Regionality

One surprise about living in Italy is that although I’m so close, I’m still so far. Many  products that I first met in Boston, Los

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Respect Fear

People who are afraid that their governments withhold information are factually correct. People who are afraid that government programs might sacrifice certain categories of people in service of an undemocratic notion of “the public good” are validated by historic and recent events. People who are afraid that for-profit corporations could sell known harmful, addictive, or unsafe products have plenty of case data to underlie their concern.

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Creativity

As this ritual has proven its worth, it is now my most fundamental commitment. It is a time-space devoted to creativity, blank and receptive, with beauty in sight, milky comforting coffee in one hand, and[…]
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Anti-corporate 2.021

Those who run the company are considered to be owner-stewards. They “own” the company in the sense of having responsibility for its purpose, but they do not own it financially or legally, in that they do not have the power to sell it.

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Farm and artisan industry succession

Around the world is a crisis of modernization in which younger generations do not want to inherit the farming and other artisanal work of their families. At the same time, a subculture is burgeoning of young people and ex-office workers who want to work with land, agriculture, food, and traditional production methods.

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Succession

Around the world is a crisis of modernization in which younger generations do not want to inherit the farming and other artisanal work of their

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Authenticity

What Italians do not seem to know is how profoundly revered Italian cuisine is in the US, and particularly in California. I could recognize my compatriots easily in Napoli. They were silent, faces upturned, eyes half-closed, eating the pizza as if they were receiving communion.

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Electrify your Favorite Car

My anger is abating. I’m refocused on wondering how to buy as many good car bodies as possible and where to put them for a few years while the kits proliferate, mechanics streamline their methods, and countries improve their incentives.

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Shopping with Grandma

Shopping involved certain gestures, discreetly fingering the fabric, deftly flipping a garment open to see how it was sewn, to examine the quality of the lining. Objects were promptly upended to see the quality of workmanship and to search for manufacturers’ engravings. If she couldn’t lift and turn an object of interest with one hand, she’d give me the nod, and I would turn it upside down for her examination.

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From “impossible” to industry

Impossible is the perimeter guard of the contemporary paradigm. We know that paradigms are generally under assault by research, adventure, invention, and culture, and that they are often superceded.

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Vocation

People who make guitars and surfboards, bread and pants, are driven by the pleasure of manifestation, the urge to work with their hands, and the need to work autonomously. Artists too, most artists, forego security and luxury in fealty to that same urgency. Filmmakers indebt themselves to the story that compels them. Not because it is a good investment. Farmers take second jobs so they can keep their land in production. I did not know that journalists who provide the food of democracy, also do this.

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How to hunt cheese

Just because I’m finally in Italy doesn’t mean I’m going to be able to get my favorite cheeses from Sicily and Campania (Southern Italy) any easier here in Turin (the Piemonte region is in the NorthWest of Italy) than in Berlin or Paris, because most of what’s on offer is going to be local.

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Vocation

As a philosopher, young Karl Marx learned that work was an aspect of being human. He became an economist in fury that work was being systematically torn from our personhood to serve industries. His intellectual and political inheritors have mostly sought to limit this incursion, to protect the person from the world of work. Which wasn’t quite the point. Meanwhile all around us people bolt because the work is even more important than the money.

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Beyond the binary

As a food tourist my strategy was simple: try lots of things and keep track of the names of the ones I like. Faced now with time to explore the diversity of Italy at leisure, I suddenly felt that I should be doing more than trawling for things I like. I should know why I like them.

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Green Waste

There is no justification for the throughput of materials involved in  junking cars less than 20 years old and encouraging people to buy new electric/hybrid. Even if the old car are purportedly “recycled”, metal recycling produces really terrible jobs. As does mining (often illegal) for e.g. cobalt and lithium needed for electric car batteries.

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Naming

Ursula K. LeGuin is a feminist science-fiction author. In her essay “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction” she constructs an anthropology of story: stories have conflicts, action, a hero, weapons, hunters. Gathering, on the other[…]
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Experiment

The hot workflow for innovation in Silicon Valley is to launch imperfect products, fail as fast as you can, be ready to lose your investment, pivot to the next iteration. Shouldn’t we run our personal[…]
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Debrief

Every project needs a debriefing…vacations, repairs, dinner parties, collaborations, relationships… This way you can acknowledge your power, how you used it, and how you can use it better. Here’s how to do it: First make[…]
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Honor

We are surrounded by gorgeous, gracious, and complicated objects, people, and systems. To honor what is keeps us in contact with the pleasures and lessons. Doing so mandates various actions: Acknowledging and celebrating people’s contributions.[…]
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Bender

It will be never be the most important thing to write a note telling someone how much you appreciate them, or wrap and package and slog to the post office to send a gift for[…]
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Shouldguilt

You can keep yourself very busy doing things the way your father did it – or trying to do the opposite, or whatever your personal flavor of “being a good person” looks like. Technology can[…]
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