Shirley Tilghman visits the Co-op: photographic proof and other thoughts

It’s always a good strategy to start in medias res. Now it’s time to go back and shed more light on the nature of Mr. Murillo’s muse, and on a high moment in general for the IFC.

Inspirational/inflammatory email:

Dearest chefs of the International Food Co-op,

The trumpets have sounded and the royal carpet has rolled out.The chefs this evening cordially invite you to join us for a truly delicious meal of international classics and of co-op legends.

For those of you who don’t want to come to dinner tonight to celebrate the visit of the Great Dame Shirley Tilghman–Sir Raphael Murillo, oh we bite my thumb at you, sir!–we’ve decided to publish our menu to whet your appetite and tempt you into your distinguished attendance.

Tonight’s Silver Platters Will Include
Homemade pico de gallo and lime-chili tortilla chips
Indian curried rice and vegetables
Bulgogi Korean Beef
The Legendary Tiramisu of the valiant Knight Giuffrida ’10


Your humble officers

(Dream Team) Queen Becky
(Inventory) Princess Val
(Intramural) Duchess Huddleston
(Father) Noble Rea
(Social) Standard Bearer Erica

This battle cry, combined with a general desire for literature that spoke to its times, has provided Mr. Murillo with seemingly ceaseless material:

Chapter IV – Of the Diverting and Important Scrutiny Which an Italian by the Name of “Calamari” and an Army Cadet Made in the Library of Our Gentleman
While our gentleman was earning himself a title through no cooking of his own, his upstanding companions, an Italian by the name of Calamari and a certain Army cadet entered into their commonly held room where the books, the authors of all this mischief, were. In a bookshelf sat an obsessive arrangement of volumes from years gone by. Next to these, on the mantle, they found a plentitude of historical volumes – most related to the relations between the Kingdom of England and The Japans from 1905 to 1914 but also, by order of a certain Doctor of Philosophy, some curious works of science fiction from the period. “This scientific fiction seems a mysterious thing,” said Calamari, “let us hope that our gentleman does not turn his next fantasy to building death rays against glorious nihon.”
The Italian directed the cadet to give him the books one by one to see what they were about, as there might be some to be found among them that did not deserve the penalty of fire.
The first the cadet put into his hand was El Cid. “This is a most provoking thing,” said the cadet, “for as I have heard this is the first epic of valor from Spain, and from this derives all our Spanish gentleman’s most recent delusions. So it seems to me that we ought inexorably to cast it to the flames.” Next, the two took Hansen and Quinn’s Greek: An Intensive Course, which was in fact the genuine source of our cavalier’s state of mind. The text was burned without hesitation.   
And so our hidalgo’s friends proceeded to burn all those unseemly works that our gentleman had. The cadet went about overturning even the room’s furnishings to root out every last offense while Calamari, in his own quest, sought out the assistance of a Korean known by the cavalier, although the author of this history wonders whether this was truly directed towards the distinguished purpose of saving the gentleman.
Finally, after searching the entire space, they came upon several untouched manuscripts. “This essay written by the clever arbitrista Caverns seems to me to be full of finest recommendations for combating anti-Americanism in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” said the Italian, “what is next?”
“Several academic essays that are less ‘sophisticated’ than they are sophistries, a peculiar record of various things that our dear friend seems to have been amused by, a most miserable chronicle of his unfortunate life, and at the last, an epos, the title of which is pretentiously obscure but which I believe concerns Tolkien’s illegitimate literature,’” said the cadet. “Although I have not read any of these documents, it is at the very least rightly said that Tolkien’s works ought to be condemned.”
“No doubt. However, I have read our friend’s ramblings for some years, and to my knowledge he has had more experience in reverses than in verses. His newest book may have some drollness, presenting us with some trifles but I would not wait for the next installments: perhaps with amendments it may succeed in winning a measure of grace that his works have heretofore lacked but it is all the more likely to fail. So, cadet, we may cast it into the fire.”


3 thoughts on “Shirley Tilghman visits the Co-op: photographic proof and other thoughts

  1. Do you mean the author’s muse, the translator’s muse, the historian’s muse, the sources’ muses, or the character’s muse? I figured that each author/actor had different a Dulcinea, so to speak.

  2. The purpose of my ambiguity: I figured I wouldn’t mention any Dulcinea’s particulars, though my less hesistant international friend has my reasoning to thank 🙂

    I also liked the idea that Pres Tilghman was a muse. But it’s true that ambiguity can detract. And that it’s the author’s/translator’s/character’s call, not mine, to create – or to veto anything here, if he wants (though considering his tendencies with online communication, that might surprise me).

    • Although I cannot speak for his characters in any medium, I believe that the author is a modest fellow who would believe that your opinions are as, if not more, correct than his own.

      I do not doubt that they are generally more correct than his own.

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