Bluets, Maggie Nelson’s Exploration of Blueness

Maggie Nelson’s Bluets tackles the varied permutations of the color blue It’s the perfect book for someone like me, someone who loves the short eccentric entries writers make in their notebooks. Like Somerset Maugham’s A Writer’s Notebook, Nelson’s Bluets ricochets all over the place, only in her case, every observation concerns blue in some way. On one page, there”ll be a conversation about blue and sex and love – and be forewarned, there’s a lot of that here, not just blue roses on wallpaper and azure summer skies. Or maybe a tiny treatise on the Tuaregs of the Sahara, whose rich blue robes turn their skin blue.

Blue, despite the sky and the deep sea, came late to the table, as far as the human eye goes. And Nelson explores that, too.

Just think of food. As Nelson says, “There is so little blue food in nature – in fact blue in the wild tends to mark food to avoid (mold, poisonous berries) – that culinary advisers generally recommend against blue light, blue paint, and blue paint when and where serving food.” (p. 2-3) That very comment is why I once wrote a meditation on blue food, inspired by George Carlin.

George Carlin and Maggie Nelson might actually have a lot to talk about, come to think of it:

Why is there no blue food? I can’t find blue food — I can’t find the flavor of blue! I mean, green is lime; yellow is lemon; orange is orange; red is cherry; what’s blue? There’s no blue! “Oh,” they say, “blueberries!” Uh-uh; blue on the vine, purple on the plate. There’s no blue food! Where is the blue food? We want the blue food! Probably bestows immortality! They’re keeping it from us! ~ George Carlin (See video HERE.)


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