The chef at the restaurant where I dally got a hold of a grip of honeysuckle… what? Honeysuckle honey? You get a drop at best per blossom so even a teaspoon represents the labor of hundreds of pulled and milked flowers.
The container before me is mostly simple sugar with maybe a tenth (if that) of honeysuckle nectar, but it’s representative of enormous effort. I’m reminded of Martin Amis in the opening of his Stalin book, Koba the Dread. It’s not a preface, as he tucks it into Part 1: The Collapse of Human Value. He calls it a preparatory, which is chillingly apt.
“Here is the second sentence of Robert Conquest’s The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and The Terror-Famine:
We may perhaps put this in perspective in the present case by saying that in the actions here recorded about twenty human lives were lost for, not every word, but every letter, in this book.
That sentence represents 3,040 lives. This book is 411 pages long.”
I didn’t intend to go this direction. Mine was a wish to talk about saying stupid things and why you should be able to, and throw a cocktail at you in the meantime, but I pulled this book off the shelf because I was in mind of how many can be represented by so few. I was thinking honeysuckle product to individual honeysuckle and it reminded me of the staggering Amis comparison. Continue reading