Friday, September 20


I used to hate how everyone started using the word "heart" as a verb. did it start with Milton Glaser? would it be fair to blame him, or has this heart-as-a-verb thing been going on even longer than that? someone should do an in-depth etymological study.

wherever it came from, my old-fashioned opinion is that we already have a perfectly decent verb that means "to express deep affection for," and yeah, okay, it has a vast range of connotations that make context and inference important to consider--but "heart" as a verb? how tacky. of course Stephen Fry has a few marvelously written things to say about that attitude. and I know, I should relax.

but I still kind of squirm at the idea of hearting cities and people and bacon or what have you, though perhaps slightly less now than before. I've been thinking: if objects are nothing but slow events anyway, and we can understand any little spot or speck as part of something else ongoing and expansive and huge, then why not think about everything in a more verb-centric way?

instead of calling the chocolate confection I mixed together and baked last week "brownies," I could call it and the whole encapsulating set of steps the event of me brownie-ing. we play tricks like that with other nouns, sometimes. if you've got a skateboard you can say you went skateboarding. if you use a pencil to mark down some tentative appointment, then you have penciled (you can also metaphorically pencil things, which then makes the noun irrelevant). and I had to come up with a phrase with which to title this post. Fry references chairing meetings and tabling motions, too. so even if it sounds much less normal than all those examples, I don't feel too strange saying I spent a Sunday brownie-ing.

I used friend Anna's most glorious recipe:
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
⅔ cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 - 1½ cups chocolate chips

cream together the butter, sugar, and eggs. add the flour and salt. mix well, then add the cocoa.
mix well, then add the vanilla. lastly (so they don't settle to the bottom completely), stir in the chocolate chips. smooth into a greased cake pan and bake for 30 minutes at 375ยบ.
let them cool a bit before you cut them. Anna always dusted hers with a few good heaping spoons of powdered sugar, but I didn't have any.

this idea that nothing stands still, nothing should be considered as a static, closed entity, is increasingly becoming of great academic interest to my whirling brain. a thing is nothing but a slow event. we are all events. in progress. continuing. making and being made.

I have blogged about Frank Chimero before, though possibly not enough or in such a manner as to convince anyone I am obsessed with him. yet. in between all my readings for class, I've been flipping through the pdf version of Chimero's book on design. it's lovely writing. thoughtful, gorgeous, almost artsy writing. I bring it up here because in the intro to The Shape of Design, Liz Danzico points out how verb-centric Chimero can be: "Announce a noun, and Frank helps trace its mutable shape to something more active. A verb! The adjacent process."

I like this. do I like it also because it lets me get out of pinpointing specifics and having to keep them in neat, separate jars? or have I misunderstood our seemingly overbearing human urge to quantify and solidify the world?

pie-ing and pavlova-ing are next on my baking agenda. thinking about them as verbs--delineated as processes and not as products--is a little complicated but pretty cool, I think. a pie doesn't come out of nowhere, after all, even if you do buy it from the freezer section of the grocery store. there is always a bunch of adjacent processes. why are they so easy to forget?

these brownies aren't supposed to just sit here, once they've been stirred together and baked. we slice them up into squares. we take some to class and share. we eat them. and then at the end we have to wash dishes.
for some sense of the reality of my growing preoccupation with this topic: past writings on process.

No comments: