Tuesday, December 28, 2010


"I think it was this early that I first heard the bewildering formula, and intimidating admonition, when I had not cleaned my plate, 'There are children starving in India.' How was my fortune in having food related to their terrible misfortune in not having food? I would love to send them this food right now that I could no longer possibly eat. If in the future I eat less, will they have more? Why speak to me about this when it is too late to do anything about it? Why has this food just here just now become a rebuke to me? Are there not other grown-ups — and why not all grown-ups — who care about this? Am I ungrateful for having food? Is any contentment of mine a sign of my ignorance and of my badness? I am in no doubt that the seeds of such thoughts, as I stared at the unfinished food on my plate, became an inextinguishable part of my sense or emblem of the world's wrong. This is as clear to me as the memory seems to be of the smell and feel of the checkered oil cloth, with several small cracks in it, that covered the kitchen table where the family ate supper together. It is almost enough to make one crave philosophy."

— Stanley Cavell, Little Did I Know: Excerpts from Memory, 131