I was standing behind a woman at the grocery store checkout a couple of days ago, patiently awaiting my turn, browsing the tabloid headlines and marveling at the variety of lip balms that are available to today’s consumers, when I happened to glance down at the products that were at that moment being zipped across the scanner and into the bags.
Mountain Dew. Cheetos. Ground beef (a ten-pound package). Wonder bread. Hot Pockets (six boxes). Hot dogs (four eight-packs). Microwaveable breakfast sandwiches. Little Debbie snack assortments. Potato chips. Frosted Flakes. Frozen pizza. An explosion of colors, textures and flavors that have never occurred in nature.
All told, a hundred and seventy dollars worth of groceries, with collectively less nutrition than a pound of pine bark.
This afternoon I found myself looking for a specific historical reference to use in one of my incredibly erudite Facebook posts. (I forget what the topic was: I suppose it says something about me that I remember making the extra effort to sound really smart, but I don’t for the life of me remember what we were talking about, or why it was necessary to impress anybody.)
Michelangelo’s statue of Moses in Rome shows a bearded man with two horns sticking out of his forehead. This was because by Michelangelo’s day the Old Testament had been translated and re-translated, and some inevitable confusion had crept in. The original Hebrew text had described rays of light coming out of Moses’ face, but in the process of translation the words used to describe Moses’ halo were misread as referring to horns. Eventually, scholars learned to rely less on the work of other scholars and to check these things for themselves, but by then the damage had been done.