Sunday, July 22, 2007

Tony Bourdain Eats A Seal

I'll bet it's good, but I wouldn't want to have to clean the floor after dinner.


The Foodist said...

ahhaha thats awsome. I love the Inuit. Funny though not a single piece of the meat had heat applied to it, Is there something about seal that makes it ok to eat compleatly raw?

I also like how he referenced it to KFC as the camera showed the empty skin of the seal, not a thing wasted... ironic.

Charlotte said...

Tony's describes the challenge of communicating this moment in writing has been on the bulletin board above my desk for months. It's one of the best descriptions of the central challenge we face as writers that I've read in a long time:
"Words fail me. Again and again. Or maybe it's me that fails the English language. My depictions of the day's rather extraordinary events is workmanlike enough, I guess ... but typically, I fall short. How to describe the feeling of closeness and intimacy in that rather ordinary-looking kitchen? The way the fifteen-year-old daughter and her eighty-five-year old grandmother faced each other, nearly nose to nose, and began "throat singing," first warming up with simultaneous grunts and rapid breathing patterns, then singing, the tones and words coming from somewhere independent of their mouths, from somewhere ... else? THe sheer, unselfconscious glee (and pride) with which they tore apart that seal -- how do I make that beautiful? The sight of Charlie, blood spread all across his face, dripping off his chin ... Grandma, her legs splayed, rocking a crescent-shaped chopper across blubber, peeling off strips of black seal meat ... How do I make them as sympathetic, as beautiful, in words as they were in reality?"

Bob del Grosso said...

Wow Charlotte, I don't know. I suppose you could just keep writing along in the vein that you started here. It certainly got me going. But then extended interrogatives have a way of becoming pedantic sounding after a few paragraphs.

Eh, what the hell do I know. I'm such a lousy writer I don't even like to think about it.

Perhaps the thing to do when you feel like you don't know how to communicate empathy is to read someone who does. Have you read "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy yet?

And there's always "Madame Bovary" or "The Hunchback of Notre Dam."

This is a big problem you are grappling with. Really Big. I wish you all success. I think I'm going to have nightmares around this tonight. Being fully human is such serious business. Arrgh!

Charlotte said...

Oh, I have lots of quotes like that above my desk -- it's the central problem for any writer -- the work *always* falls short. But what I love about that one is the attempt to really get beyond the ick factor that makes his tv show work -- "ooh, yuk, look at the Inuit eating raw seal!" and attempt to show what's beautiful about it. My first book was about people who lose a child on a hike, and the second one is about surviving an actual death in my own family, so the challenge of working with material that no one wants to look at, and finding a way to show what is beautiful in that material, well ... struck a chord. (And I'm really looking forward to a third book that has *nothing* to do with grief!)