Rácsos Linzer (Wenckheim V)

…because this Linzer torte was always his favorite,
and that’s why she was taking it to him,
three baking pans’ worth…


Rácsos Linzer is Hungarian for Linzer Tart, which used to be my least favorite cake. I remember it came with a chewy jam underneath a deliberate looking crisscross pattern of dough.

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My sequential reading diary of László Krasznahorkai’s novel Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming requires an intercession to discuss the significance of this tart in the book. It is all over.

…she could make such a Linzer torte that no one else ever could, certainly not me, to be sure, but it was grand, they ate it up, …

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Of course I had to make my own.The recipes ask for hazelnuts or almonds. I am a subversive person. So I went  for black walnuts. Most highly recommended. In the meantime, Krasznahorkai uses that little tart for metaphysical speculations:

— it all depends on whose intuition we’re talking about, are we talking about the intuition of Auntie Ibolyka or the intuition of the Buddha, because it’s not the same, not at all — if, on the one hand we feel like having a piece of Linzer torte, or, on the other, we want to step off the edge of the precipice straight into a freefall —

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The recipes suggest red currant or raspberry jam. I didn’t have access to the former, but spiced up the latter with a few jalapeño peppers. Don’t the Hungarians like it spicy? I also quarantined a quarter and spread plum mus on it instead (spiced up with cardamom, in addition to cloves and cinnamon).

…the big problem is with this attack, presumably with this attack there’s the possibility, namely the high probability that in our great hurry we’ll end up burning that Linzer torte, …

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No, I set a timer. Thank you very much.

As you can see, I replaced the crisscross pattern by something else which was meant to look like a tessellation of the hyperbolic plane. János Bolyai would have been confused. Computer graphics is easier.

In the appendix, Krasznahorkai lists under UTILIZED MATERIALS — DESTROYED: Auntie Ibolyka’s Linzer torte with two baking dishes …

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So be it.


War & War (Nordhouse Dunes I)

For many years we went camping to Nordhouse Dunes at Lake Michigan, and an episode of nostalgia made us revisit this place one last time before my daughter is off to college & life.

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In László Krasznahorkai deliberately cryptic book War & War, the hero György Korin is depersonalized: He just symbolizes a single function of our lives, namely delivering the past into the future, becoming the horizon between the below and the above.

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This happens concretely by carrying an old manuscript to New York, a place that the four inhabitants of that manuscript haven’t seen yet. These inhabitants are cryptic, too, bemoaning the loss of the noble, the great, and the transcendent, this causing also the loss of peace, so that the world now consist of only war & war. 

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Korin realizes however that delivering the manuscript is not enough, he feels the calling to complete it, to find an exit for its inhabitants. There are several attempts for this, one being by writing on water.

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This year, the dune grass that so gracefully used to create sand drawings, is now doing this in the water, thanks to water levels two feet above normal. The water itself leaves very temporary traces on the disappearing beach.

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Is it maybe the author’s dream that his protagonists keep writing the story?

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