Cheesesteaks of the Unexamined Life

The snow fell all day in Philadelphia. For several hours it was the big flake—bigger than ever I’ve seen. Went walking in Fairmont Park, though the snow was not of the quiet sort, it melting as it fell, dripping in the Wissahickon gorge. Good for driving around—the snow—as there was no ice; most people were. Enjoyed the sight of the snow through the bare trees. Grass all green, a good deal of spring on the way, robins all puffed fat. Myself did not wear enough clothes which made the luxury of a hot shower afterward welcome.

Spent much of the day working on 1st Clement for Monday night. Found a Spanish translation online, curiously.

Reading through Muir’s poems again. Nothing slight in Muir, all gripping. Childhood memories, which he was distanced from by his 200 year move from the Orkneys to Glasgow, make for imagery charged with meaning. I have the feeling that were I to go to the Orkneys the sense of the place would match what I’m reading.

We are reading Barth for the Trinity class, and I read the wrong bit, not the bit that betrays how radical he is. But I have time for ranging more widely in my reading and so I am not anxious. Tuesdays I have to spend long hours in that doleful place, WTS, so I will give myself some time with Barth, if the volume is available. Like Turretin, all of Barth 2/2 is conspicuous by its absence. It is the most tremendously boring place, WTS. I long for Bethel Seminary’s library, its lamp lit individual tables, its long sloping window, the fireplace. Some students go to the WTL daily and sit at a drab small carrel and read. Most of us avoid it, though it has some good places.

Thing done: they got rid of the closest hot water dispenser in the library—interfering, apparently, with the ancient computer providing the catalog in the basement. Very odd! The only consolation, though nobody uses those terminals, is that they’re not forcing us to use the application on a cellular telephone, of which I am grateful still to be free. So now it is off to Van Til for hot water—a whole separate and the world’s ugliest small building; a nuisance. But who in America cares about hot water or understands it usages?

Anyway, have developed a rather expansive reading ambitions. It looks to end pleasantly, the semester, opening up into a wide, fruitful summer of knocking things out. The thing now is to keep the essays coming along, not get caught by the sudden onset of final deadlines.

During the long-anticipated snowy walk, reflected I have achieved a certain familiarity with the 17th Century that makes getting into things easier. Have a notion of the forest so I can get on with the trees. It has been somewhat intense, but time is doled out as it usually is, one day after the next, the morning thereof and the evening thereof, the coffee and the oatmeal and the eggs, the ham and the chicken and the noodles thereof.

Had two cheesesteaks this week. I eat them in an effort to understand why they are so much spoken of. Have not figured it out, but I live in hope that it will be like ajiaco in Bogota, of which I at last one day tasted the platonic ideal of that soup for damp climes. People make comparisons and studies of the local cheesesteak. Places are gone around to in teams to determine where the best steak obtains, wid or widout. They are just sandwiches, not any kind of cuisine. There is a limited variety achievable, but in the end they are just not very delicate sandwiches, not very flavorful. The two chief toppings are fried onions and ketchup (I always ask for lettuce and tomato wid mine, provolone if the question arises). I suppose they are what they are because not more can be said of Philadelphia. The hoagie. And as many Subways as anywhere else. In the land of sandwiches, this city that does more sandwiches perhaps than elsewhere. Sandwiches and sweatpants, cuisine no doubt explaining the predilection for elastic waistbands. I still think the clubhouse sandwich and the hamburger more interesting. They do have a clubhouse cheeseburger here I haven’t elsewhere encountered.

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