Issue #229 / April 2023
Do you like raisins ?
I have always disliked them. As a character trait, I am not sure of much, and I have few strong opinions about stuff in general. I feel like I can change opinions easily, and I am pretty influenceable, which is not necessarily a bad thing I feel. But I know how I feel about raisins. I am quite sure of it.
I would say they are the least interesting dry fruit there is. Apricots have a nice colour, bananas have crunch. I feel raisins are just not that exciting. Aesthetically speaking too, the wrinkly brownish skin isn’t that great a look. And the texture is underwhelming, it sticks to the teeth and dries the mouth.
[Long paragraph on the use of raisins in cooking]
[Long paragraph on how her sister puts them in sandwiches]
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about this, and how I feel like I don’t ever know what I want or what to think and how I am just always confused about things, and I suppose hating raisins has been a pretty consistent thing in my life and in that sense I guess I should be grateful for it. And maybe try to like them in that way.
[Long paragraph on how she used to hate dates but likes them now]
DAPHNE, MARSEILLES, FRANCE
Where do you sit politically. I can never work it out. You seem all over the bloody place.
ALISTER, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND
Dear Daphne and Alister,
There is much in your letters that resonates with me, and that is the raisin why I am writing to you.
Daphne, you seem to hold a position, or rather a non-position, on things that is, in a way, similar to mine. I guess we inhabit a particular space within the world, you and I, somewhere in the midst of things, somewhere in the centre.
Séan O’Hagan, my dear friend, and co-author of the publishing sensation, Faith, Hope and Carnage, said to me this morning, ‘You centrists are the worst. You don’t know where you stand. You’re like fucking leaves in the wind,’ by which I think he meant that I had no conviction, which is to some degree true. It is often the case with us songwriter types because we have found that a more inquiring, more expansive, less-entrenched position serves us better in the pursuit of the illusive but beautiful idea. In the centre we feel freer, less restricted, less dogmatised, less bigoted. We see the world as essentially mysterious, often mystical, and we are humbled by it, in so far as we do not claim to know or fully understand it. We dance nimbly about, following our distinctive desires, our interests, wherever they may take us, with humility, with curiosity, with uncertainty. We feel we don’t need to live within the prescribed imaginations of others. We are open to persuasion, yet forever ourselves. We understand too that the centre is indeed held together by its extremities, and we need the radicals to mark out the boundaries within which we play.
I tried to make my position, such as it is, feel more dangerous and sexy, by describing myself to Séan as alt-centre, but he wasn’t having it. ‘You guys just blow whichever way the wind goes,’ he muttered, gloomily. He was in a dark and defeated mood this morning. ‘Jesus, man, what’s wrong with you?’ I asked, ‘Have you been reading the Guardian?’
Still, Séan, ever astute, was on to something. He understands me well, better than most. At the end of the day, I just don’t really know about anything for sure. I am simply not certain about things, except perhaps this – on those rare occasions when I am irrevocably convinced of my own position and have that surge of righteousness roaring through my raisins, I am often plain wrong.
Mainly, though, I feel I’m just tossed around like that leaf, batted this way and that, by those broad and inquisitive winds, baffled and humbled by the world, curious and mostly awed, with no real port of call but God, Himself.
As for raisins, Daphne, I kind of know where you are coming from, they do have a grim, scrotal horribleness, but like all things in this world – you, me and every other little thing – they have their place. Be kind.