Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Doufeux* and campus killers

A short break from politics, and the dreadful news from Virginia. Or not. One of my passions is cooking, and this week I bought a lot of Dutch (or French) ovenry. Perhaps the endless April snows made me think of braises and stews and such, but I developed a short-lived obsession with cast-iron pots, and, perhaps unfortunately, there were a number of kitchen outlets close by to satisfy my cookware jones. I made the mistake of ordering a cookbook as well, written around a popular cast-iron cookware brand, and a goodly number of the recipes it contained made reference to something called a "doufeu." So I had to head out again today to get one.

This is a cunning invention: a pot with a recessed lid in which ice cubes are placed, producing a lot of condensation inside the pot, and hence a steady basting process. Sounds good. But people on-line tend to talk in superlatives, and this object is no exception--the raving resembles in both volume and intensity that of a typical blog commenter (no offence, people, I wasn't referring to my own combox, which is a refuge for the refined). So...anyone know some good doufeu recipes?

I'm not trying to be insensitive. I just find little to add to the stew of comments about the Virginia Tech massacre, other than a lot of questions. Why was the killer very early on described as "an Asian male?" Are the bulk of right-wing commenters serious when they argue that students and professors carrying guns of their own is the solution to this kind of thing? How much is massive information-flow responsible for these spectacularly public mass-murders? Was Cho Seung-Hui a Herostratus redivivus, a modern version of the fellow who burned down the temple of Artemis in Ephesus so he'd be remembered through time? Or was he a living expression of what the editor-at-large of the National Review, John O'Sullivan, who rejects the Herostratus hypothesis, calls "radical evil?" (I find the latter invention a confession of abject explanatory defeat, as well as confusingly proposed in his piece.)

I think easy access to handguns is part of the problem, not part of the solution, but it's not an explanation. Perhaps the best way of confronting this sort of thing may be simply to celebrate life and cease trying to read a diseased mind from beyond the grave. And that, too, is a confession of defeat, but at least it's a call to a kind of action. Unlike the Marc Lepine massacre in Montreal, where for once there were clear political and social lessons to be learned, there is a signal lack of political content in most of these crimes, and nothing new about them, either, as a Globe and Mail correspondent reminds us today.

Personally, I've had it with death. Sometimes all one can do is go on living, and try to find some pleasure in it. That's one in the eye for the crazed killers. On to slow-cooked coq au vin, and I hope I haven't offended anyone.
No, not another Jason post. :)

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