The reinvention of milk as a staple of modern China has required a series of remarkable feats, not least of which was to overcome the people’s lactose-intolerance and create a market for milk where there had been none. It has involved privatising farming, allowing processing companies to become corporations, and even converting desert areas into giant factory farms.
Now the global impact of China’s ever-expanding dairy sector is causing concern in other countries. Dairy farming requires access to vast quantities of fresh water: it takes an estimated 1,020 litres of water to make one litre of milk. But China suffers from water scarcity, and has been buying land and water rights abroad, as well as establishing large-scale processing factories in other countries.
Yet objects tend to shift during flight, and in the year 2019, The Matrix has endured as both touchstone and Rorschach blot, a way for people of vastly different ideologies to make sense of the world around them. The effects are still a marvel, but the film’s ideas have taken root in a destabilized culture where conspiracy theories flourish and individuals are defining for themselves what is and isn’t real, and what constitutes freedom in a heavily monitored, highly synthetic technological space. Neo may “follow the white rabbit” into a Wonderland of personal discovery, but we’re citizens of Wonderland now, having made a second home for ourselves where the laws of gravity don’t apply.
The terrifying movie monster could both swim (in his lagoon) and walk on land. He had long claws, webbed hands and feet, scales and a dorsal fin. His round, fishy head had bulging eyes and layers of wavy gills.
First captured on film in 1954, the elusive Creature — and Milicent Patrick, the woman who designed him — are now the focus of a new book: The Lady from the Black Lagoon.
“Excuse me?” I struggled to understand what he was saying. “Every recipe published in Gourmet belongs to Epicurious. That will not change.”
For a moment I was too stunned to speak. When I’d mastered my emotions I squeaked, “Are you telling me you want us to create a website without recipes? I’m sorry, but that’s insane!”
Si drew himself up. “Epicurious,” he said with regal deliberation, “is the oldest recipe site on the Web. It is very successful.” He rose, ponderously, from the chair. “It will continue as in the past.” He turned toward the door; the audience was over.
Toward the beginning of Ingmar Bergman’s autobiographical film Fanny and Alexander, a beautiful young boy wanders into a beautiful room. The room is located in a rambling Uppsala apartment belonging to the boy’s widowed grandmother, Helena Ekdahl, once a famous actress and now the matriarch of a spirited and noisy theater family. As the camera follows the boy, Alexander, we note the elaborate fin-de-siècle decor, the draperies with their elaborate swags, the rich upholstery and carpets, the pictures crowding the walls, all imbued with the warm colors that, throughout the first part of the film, symbolize the Ekdahls’ warm (when not overheated) emotional lives. Later, after the death of Alexander’s kind-hearted father, Oscar, who is the lead actor of the family troupe, his widow rather inexplicably marries a stern bishop into whose bleak residence she and her children must move. At this point, the film’s visual palette will be leached of color and life; everything will be gray, black, coldly white.
A woman hears a baby’s cry and tries to take meaning from the sound. A new mother brings her baby to her breast. Another mother straps a baby across her back and heads out to work the fields. A woman, interrupted yet again, puts aside her other work to tend to a child.
These stories play out over the centuries, with variations but also with surprising consistency. Seldom found among official records, often overlooked, they capture the reality of mothers’ lives. In Mother is a Verb, Sarah Knott collects and knits these stories together in an innovative history of motherhood.
The slim size of “Rag,” a disturbing, forceful story collection by Maryse Meijer, belies the profusion of terrors contained within it. No matter how ordinary or powerless the character, to each unfortunate soul yet inheres a magnificent, perhaps infinite, capacity for suffering. “If she had wanted something nice to happen to her she would have chosen someone nice” serves both as a description of one woman’s open-eyed masochism and a cautionary banner over a book that could be read as a field guide to varieties of misery, much of which is experienced by women and girls.