when god decided to invent
everything he took one
breath bigger than a circustent
and everything began
when man determined to destroy
himself he picked the was
of shall and finding only why
smashed it into because
– e. e. cummings
Last night, I watched the 1979 film Being There alongside our Calvary film club, and my mind is still tumbling over the details of the extraordinary story. Peter Sellers plays a naïve, Forrest Gump-ish lovable protagonist, a humble gardener, who, upon the death of his master, is cast out of the garden he had tended in simplicity for fifty-odd years. His education is only that which he has seen on television. He is bewildered by modern society and all its inventions, yet he proceeds through all of his chance interactions with a fool’s confidence, which most mistake for wisdom.
This film speaks to the power of innocence, perhaps a morally complex construct, OR, a gift from God most every human finds a way to unknowingly destroy—only to pine for when recognized in a heart-breaking, dear character like Chance the Gardener, who with “rice pudding between his ears” becomes an unlikely prophet for the fallen world. Chance breaks all the rules the world made for itself because he is innocent, or ignorant, of them. In the final scene, he walks across a lake of water, and I think it is his absence of curiosity, the irritable reaching after fact and reason, that keeps him afloat. I must re-read Dostoyevski’s The Idiot. Or any Shakespeare play with a Fool. It is not a coincidence that great literature, the Bible greatest of all, chooses to convey its wisdom through the characters most unlikely to speak it.
“As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden.” -Chance the Gardener
L’Otto di Merano
Adapted from The Italian Baker
1 cup sourdough starter
1 tbsp malt syrup
1 ½ cups warm water
Scant cup rye
¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
Stir together starter, malt syrup and water and dissolve together. Then add flours and stir until combined. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise until bubbly, three hours.
2 tablespoons olive oil
About 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1 ¼ tsp caraway seeds
Stir oil into the sponge. Combine flour, salt, and caraway seeds and mix one cup at a time into the sponge. Mix and then knead on a floured surface for 3 to 4 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, 2 hours for first rise.
Shaping and Second Rise. Cut the dough in half on a floured surface and with each piece, shape into a boule. On a piece of parchment paper on a peel, place the loaves next to each other, so that they look like two cells dividing.
This apparently also looks like an infinity, or a sideways number eight—and that’s where the name “Otto” comes from. Bake at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow. Cool on a rack.
I could go on and on about how great this infinity bread tasted. But perhaps that would be to chase after the was of shall.