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Life in Salt

writing from research

It’s true. A 25-cent goldfish is more intricate than the Mona Lisa.

Our house has windows downstairs, wall to wall. Ceiling to floor. Upstairs there is a single dark hallway to four bedrooms.

One microgram of table salt is a speck just barely large enough for someone with keen eyesight to make out with a microscope.

    Said Carl Sagan.

My mind feels like a very narrow hallway with very few doors.

The Cafeteria cook makes his usual batch:     5 pounds of dry oatmeal

                        4 gallons of water

                        A handful of salt

Antony van Leeuwenhoek stared at water under a magnifying glass. He found green streaks and oval bodies. Some were white and transparent, others were green, grey and scaly. They varied in size but had such lively insides. It might have felt like finding magic.

Eleven elderly men eat oatmeal from the cafeteria and turn blue.

    1944, New York Department of Health.

In our dark hallway the doors stay open, so if I stand at the end of the hall, I see five places where bluish light the width of a body falls from the doors.

Once, years ago, Annie Dillard saw red blood cells whip, one by one, though the capillaries in a goldfish’s transparent tail.

    Taken from Intricacy

All the colours of poetry, however splendid, can never paint natural objects in such a manner as to make the description be taken for a real landskip .The most lively thought is still inferior to the dullest sensation.

    David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

My dad has a magnifying glass globe the size of a fist. Sometimes I lay down on the carpet. I hold the world in my hands and roll it over the lighted places, then the dark places.  

Salt (sawlt) noun:

a crystalline compound, sodium chloride, NaCl, occurring as a mineral, a constituent of seawater, etc., used for seasoning food, preservative, etc.

An element that gives liveliness, zest, or pungency:

                i.e. Anecdotes are the salt of his narrative.

We spend a lot of time staring at water but even the greatest artists could never get it right.

Leeuwenhoek was amazed. He wrote that these creatures were smaller than any animal he will ever see.

With the magnifying globe, I stare through a fake world into a smaller world inside of my larger world, a world living under the threads of our carpet floor.

Every animal and plant and mineral and random spec does something to contribute to the world. Why is it impossible to know what everything does?

In Sunday school, the girls sing, We are the Light of the World,

              The boys sing,     Salt of the Earth.

                       Girls    We are the Light of the World,

                       Boys    Salt of the Earth.

                       Girls    We are the Light of the World,

                       Boys     Salt of the Earth.

In the grain of salt there is about 10 million billion atoms. If we wish to know a grain of salt, we must know at least three-dimensional positions of each atom.

    Said Carl Sagan.

The most lively thought is still inferior to the dullest sensation.

Sodium nitrite looks like table salt. By mistake, the cook used it to make oatmeal.

There was only enough in the oatmeal to poison someone with poor levels of sodium chloride his blood.

    1944, New York Department of Health.

My favorite thing to find is lost strands of hair. Sometimes they wrap and tangle. I think about how many times it took my feet to brush against it to make that. And how easy it would be for me to ruin it.

In Intricacy she can’t even describe everything inside of a fish bowl.

Alcoholism depletes NaCl levels. That and sodium nitrite makes eleven blue alcoholics.

Living in salt.

Looking at the carpet though my dad’s magnifying globe is what I do when I’m alone. It entertains me more than any game I can play with someone else.

The most lively thought is still inferior to the dullest sensation.

We each squeeze a fist full of ice cubs and salt, seeing who can hold it the longest. It stings more than any burn. I open my fist and my palm is pink and gritty.

The most lively thought is still inferior to the dullest sensation.

Under a microscope, chloroplasts course through the fish bowl – 136 atoms of hydrogen, carbon, oxygen and nitrogen arranged carefully in a ring.

The most lively thought is still inferior to the dullest sensation.

My mind feels like a very narrow hallway with very few doors.

Dillard says at the rings center is a single atom of magnesium.

    Remove magnesium. Add an atom of iron.    

It combines with the others to make red blood, red dots in the goldfish’s tail.


Now… is 10 million billion atoms more or less than the number of things which a brain can know?

    Said Carl Sagan.

How is believing a complex and constantly changing reality different from believing one that can’t be proven?

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