time and space

July 11th, 2007 | Uncategorized

Sorry for my absence—I’ve been hard at work, which is an inexpressible relief after all my recent gadding about. But clearly I should disappear more often. That last thread was quite a wormhole ride, from the map of the world (now pinned down to between 1918 and 1920), to “Princess Ida,” to the inevitable distortion of projection, to the Holocaust, to nationalism, to Sherman Alexie, to Angela Merkel, to Bill O’Reilly, then finally swirling back Möbius-strip-like to our persistent preoccupation with baked goods. I could go for a Sally Lunn bun right about now.

I just have one more thing to say about maps. Well, two. Here’s a photo I took of myself in the spring next to this big white ‘X’ on the ground near my house.

x marks the spot
Actually, it’s a ‘Y’ because one leg blew away at some point. I’m pretty sure it’s a kind of marker for aerial photographers, a way to register their photos with the actual surface of the earth. It reminds me of how when I’m in a plane, I wish the states and cities and mountains and things were labeled and colored, like they are on a map.

Which reminds me of this passage from Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “The Map.”

The names of seashore towns run out to sea,
the names of cities cross the neighboring mountains
–the printer here experiencing the same excitement
as when emotion too far exceeds its cause.

Here’s the whole thing if you want it. (In the last thread, Jana mentioned someone who did their dissertation on “The Poetics of Cartography.” I wonder if it cited this poem.) Okay. Back to work.

36 Responses to “time and space”

  1. Al, et al. says:

    Elizabeth Bishop is my favrite poet! I had the pleasure of reading most of her original manuscripts years ago when I worked in Special Collections at the Vassar College library. I love this blog. Thanks, Alison!

  2. filosopher says:

    X’s turned to Y’s. How apt.

  3. oh yeah! I meant to note that, the x-y shift.

  4. Aunt Soozie says:

    Maybe it’s a Christo.

  5. Jana C.H. says:

    For more on “Princess Ida”, check out the Maoist Orange Cake blog at http://maoistorangecake.blogspot.com/ where, as Diva of the Week, I am keeping people up to date on Seattle’s production of “Ida”. Tonight was first dress rehearsal. I had not realized before now that when the girl students assemble to defend their separatist castle from an invading male army they will be wearing horned helmets.

    The show opens Friday. If you’re in Seattle, be sure to see it. Yeah, there’s some 19th century sexism, but there’s a lot of funny stuff, too. I’ll be at the back of the house with a video camera hooked up to monitors in the pit.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith WSG: They’ve a firmly rooted notion they can cross the Polar Ocean.

  6. Robin B. says:

    I teach an introduction course in women/gender/sexuality studies. Last year, the whole class read Fun Home, and one of the students wrote a brilliant essay on maps in the book. I encouraged her to send it to Alison, but I think she didn’t do so because Alison’s email address is off the website, so the student took that to mean that Alison didn’t want to be bothered. It’s a shame, because it was a brilliant paper. Maybe I’ll encourage the student again to send it via Katie.

  7. I actually haven’t read much Elizabeth Bishop, though I keep meaning to. My friend the Queer Theory Professor introduced me to “The Map” after I showed her my map. And just now she emailed me this explanation of the X’s dotting the Vermont landscape. I guess that’s what academics do in the summer–foist poetry on people and turn their research skills to good use.

  8. Alex the Bold says:

    Three words Alison. Three words.

    The DTWOF Cookbook.

    You know you want to…

  9. Daisy says:


    I have often wanted some of those weird vegan recipes of Sparrow’s! 🙂

  10. Liza from pine street art works says:

    My favorite professor in college (I went later in life, in the 1990’s, for all you timeline mavens) was the playwright Suzan-Lori Parks who taught a course, “reading as geography” We had to make maps of all the action in the books. The most fun was Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying”

  11. Alex the Bold says:

    And I love how Alison gets portions of her face into the photos. It always manages to look artful.

  12. JenK says:

    Hi Alison – you saw the Unshelved book review of Fun Home, right?


  13. sunicarus says:

    Alison~Thanks for the article on the digital superhighway. Too bad “ConnectVermont” can’t magically connect Vermont’s progressive thought with other less evolved regions of this country, eh? Guess that would be a bit Orwellian (in a good way ;o)
    Liza~Thanks for posting about mapping Faulkner. Sounds intriguing. I can’t help but wonder what it would be like to map Toni Morrison or Virginia Woolf. Are there any texts available on “reading as geography”? Just curious. Thanks.

  14. LondonBoy says:

    I’m glad someone else mentioned the “DTWOF Cookbook” first: the idea’s been in my mind for a while now, but I didn’t want to say anything.

    As for Sally Lunns, I seem to remember that there’s an easy recipe for “Mary Margaret’s Sally Lunn” in one of Peg Bracken’s “I Hate to Cook” books, though I can’t remember which one, and I haven’t tried it myself. Personally, I prefer a Chelsea bun ( apparently you have something similar in the US called a “cinnamon roll” ).

    By the way, talking of food in DTWOF, which we almost were, does anyone else remember Sparrow’s breast fetish ? Does she still have it ?

  15. Liza from pine street art works says:

    Sunicarus- we did Orlando, too. But, no I have no text from the class, other than my papers and reading notebook, which, of course, I saved. As I recall, there is a moment in Orlando where s/he looks at herself in a mirror as his/her self which appears at the exact middle of the book, as if her/his identity were split at the center, which both ends reflecting on each other.

    I also remember Suzan Lori being such an engaging teacher, she’d jump onto a table now and then and start lecturing from above.

  16. Hayley says:

    I was a huge Peanuts fan throughout my childhood and one of my favorite things was the Peanuts Cook Book. I still make the Great Pumpkin Cookies. Do it, AB!
    Two years ago, when my partner and I flew to Hawaii, I sooo wanted to know what I was looking at on the ground. I think that airlines should offer an audio of topography and history and even buildings or monuments that you can see.

  17. Aunt Soozie says:

    I never heard of Sally Lunn bread…is it British?

  18. Kelli says:

    I noticed the rendering of the USGS topographic maps of Beech Creek and surrounding areas in Fun Home when I read it after I bought it Saturday at Borders/Waldenbooks. I use them a lot in my aerial survey photography work. And yes, we use the big white paper markers on the ground as well. In my state, we tend to use Ls rather than Xs.

    I could spend a lot of time explaining the intricacies of my job and what goes on in this office, but I wonder about the level of interest, so I won’t subject any of you to it.

  19. Bunny Watson says:

    Re knowing what you’re looking at when you look out the window of a plane: Check out Window Seat: Reading the Landscape from the Air, by Gregory Dicum. I flipped through this once in a shop and don’t know why I didn’t buy it immediately; I may have to order a copy now. The book includes aerial photographs arranged by region of the U.S. and Canada and explains what you’re looking at; he’s also published one that does the same thing for Europe.

  20. Anonymous says:

    mo used to look more like alison b. than she does nowadays.

  21. sunicarus says:

    Liza~Thanks for sharing your experience with Suszn Lori. Sounds like she is quite an inspiring & enthusiastic instructor. I enjoy when instructors have that kind of passion. Interesting comments on Orlando. If you’d ever feel comfortable sharing your paper(s), I’d be interested on seeing one of them.
    Mapping gender and it’s many reflections sounds like a thesis waiting to be written. Thanks again!

  22. sunicarus says:

    Oops…that’s its. Sheesh.

  23. mlk says:

    Alex the Bold, I think somehow that we want a DTWOF cookbook far more than Alison wants to compile one! surely there are enough creative and industrious cooks out here to research the dishes and create recipes for her?

    as I recall, Mo got some sort of pasta with chard stems the first time she and Sydney went out (how like Mo!) and was preparing gumbo with artichoke hearts and some other exotic ingredient the night she and Sydney were invited to Ginger’s dissertation celebration. if memory serves, Sydney ordered a pasta putanesca for their first date — I don’t know what that is, much less how to make it, but maybe someone else can help out?

    Aunt Soozie, here are some links re: Sally Lunn



    I found a recipe, too but it’s different from the type that I know as “true” Sally Lunn. There seem to be as many forms of Sally Lunn as there are explanations for its origins (this statement isn’t original to me — in fact, I think it’s in one of the links above. it’s absolutely true, though because what I know as Sally Lunn isn’t a bun at all and is baked in a tube pan!).

    If I can find my recipe, I’ll submit to the maoist website.

  24. pd says:

    Fun Home got a very nice mention from Douglas Wolk on “The Front Porch” today. (NH Public radio) Link http://www.nhpr.org/node/13416

    The topic was Comic Book Culture.

  25. j.b.t. says:

    Hi Everyone,

    I have an online meal planning service (all natural foods, gluten-free, etc.) that features my original recipes and I’d be THRILLED to contribute to a DTWOF cookbook! Just let me know what and how many you want…


    P.S. you can check out my website at http://www.jennette-turner.com/dinner, or see more of my recipes on the Wedge Co-op’s website – I write the recipes for their “what’s For Supper?” program.

  26. Aunt Soozie says:

    Are they going to come back and clean up the x’s after they are finished??

  27. Hayley says:

    Thanks, Bunny! I will look for both books immediately! And plan a trip!

  28. Kelli says:

    They do clean up the Xs when they’re done, yes. Unless the cows eat them—and they have a strange propensity for doing that, often before the pictures are even taken. Which means that the targets have to be relaid and resurveyed… but yes, the ground control crews do come back and remove all the targets from the ground, except for the ones that were painted on roadways.

  29. Jeffster83 says:

    MLK: “Pasta putanesca” (pasta as made by prostitutes) (yes, really; you can look it up) is a pretty simple dish. Boil noodles. In frying pan, stir around roughly chopped tomatoes, olive oil, capers, bits of basil. Drain the noodles and add them to the sauce in the frying pan. Stir some more. Eat it out of the pan for breakfast as the sun sets, then go out to work. Only one pan and one fork to wash.

    I suspect that when Mo made it, though, she served it to others, on plates, with a full set of flatware.

  30. Aunt Soozie says:

    Pasta putanesca is featured in Lemony Snickett’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. The kids make it for the mean guy and his actor friends. It’s a funny scene.

    The cows eat them! What are they made out of??

    I think one of us should invent a recipe for X and Y cookies.
    Not for cows…for people. j.b.t.??

  31. Straight Ally (what a dorky handle) says:


    As noted in the previous thread,

    –You gave us online folks two archived DTWOF episodes in a row.

    –Someone reported that a new episode had been published in her community paper, but you didn’t post it online.

    –The last time you posted a new episode online was about a month ago, and it was a cliffhanger (especially so)!


  32. mlk says:

    Jeffster, thanks for the recipe. it sounds pretty straightforward, and tasty.

    at first I thought you were describing how *you* prepare the dish, but I guess you were giving an account of a “working girl’s” version.

    those are pretty impressive credentials, j.b.t. I’d be happy to make notes re: dishes to prepare as I read thru the collections, if you and Alison work out some sort of a deal 🙂

  33. Kelli says:

    They’re made of butcher paper. There’s some sort of irony, karma, or poetic justice involved, somehow, in cows eating it so eagerly, I think.

  34. Donna says:

    I thought the maps were amazing too, handwritten maps have this x marks the spot pirate’s treasure fascination that regular maps do not hold for me :). While reading Fun House Alison’s Dad starting morphing into Kevin Spacey before my very eyes, which bothered me, because it just seemed like i needed to have some real life picture in my mind as to who he was, which maybe i thought was kind of laziness on my imagination’s part.

  35. Ginjoint says:

    Jeffster83, I recently had me some DE-licious puttanesca. It also involved black olives, to which I am quite partial.

  36. Suzi says:

    This thread was so much fun!

    I thought I was the only one who remembered Peg Bracken’s cookbooks (and I actually have an autographed copy).

    But the cows eating the butcher paper Xs… that’s just priceless. Thank you, everyone!