The resultant internal conflict is nowhere more clearly seen than in Crime and Punishment. The characters seem drawn from an imagined hell and yet…’We have never met them, but they are mysteriously familiar to us. We understand and love them, and finally we recognize ourselves in them. This is because they are no more abnormal than we are. In fact, they are what we do not dare to be, they do and say what we do not dare to do and say, and they bring to the light of day that which we keep buried in the darkness of the unconscious.’
Dostoevsky has been on my mind; it’s as simple as that. The deadline for the article submission of my old graphic novel paper was July 1 (fail! Alas, how’s a girl to write a paper while driving up and down the coast?) but, due to the kindness of two friendly Dutchmen, is now July 15. *sigh of relief* As I was reading through my “virtual stack” of books on comics and trauma, Dostoevsky and the 1950s and other things that I had scanned into my Kindle on the airplane back, I came across the above quote.
What struck me most about it was that it seemed to encapsulate everything about the Casey Anthony trial, which I’m only slightly ashamed to admit I followed quite actively while in Pennsylvania. Maybe it was the availability of a television, maybe it was the media frenzy that made the case basically inescapable, but, like a large majority of Americans, I found myself intrigued by the mystery surrounding the case. I wanted to know what would happen (and now I know: not guilty. A lack of solid forensic evidence just wasn’t there) and would there be, as reporters kept repeating, “justice for Caylee”? After all, nothing made sense–we really were, as Jeff Ashton, the prosecutor, said, “expected to suspend our reason and follow Alice down the rabbit hole.” But, honestly, what really drew me in was that the whole trial could have passed as a live enactment of a modern Dostoevskian novel. Dysfunctional family? Check. An unbelievable and strange series of coincidences/events? Check. Psychological instability? Check. Long monologues and unnecessary digressions? Check. Even knowing what I know about Dostoevsky himself, this could very well have been the subject matter of one of the many clippings from the paper about murders and crimes that so fascinated him and on which he based some of his novels and stories…And so, in the morning, I would put the kettle on, make my extra strong cup of coffee and make breakfast with the trial on in the background…These very waffles were the product of one such morning as I avidly listened to the closing statements and tried to make sense of the seemingly inexplicable.
Let me assure you that measuring flour, blueberries and walnuts is infinitely easier than attempting to work through circumstantial evidence and bizarre, impossible to prove theories. I’m pretty sure I made these on auto-pilot mode; my fingers knew how to do all the right things even as my brain was elsewhere…Just like with reading books, watching movies, tv shows or live trials involves you in the action; regardless of how you respond– emotionally, logically, rationally, indifferently–you somehow write yourself into the “text.” You judge the characters/people, you take a stance and you often talk about “what you would have done”, making yourself either a would-be author, script writer or, in this case, a juror. I certainly fell into the final category since, somewhat amazingly, I didn’t even notice that the waffles were sugar free until I had cooked them! Yes, my attention was that torn between the television and the mixing bowl. I also probably let a few of them overcook–and probably much to their benefit; my impatience usually leads me to want to remove things from the skillet, griddle, etc. too early– due to my need to catch every word of recorded conversations and family photos that, if we’re to trust in images, tell a story far different from the one the media laid out for us.
In any case, the trial is now over and we can all stop taking part in a family tragedy that, regardless of how it speaks to us and our need for that special brand of American justice that makes us all guilty until proven innocent (in my graphic novel paper, this is a topic I discuss, so, though this post may to some extent seem a tad crude, Dostoevsky, Casey Anthony and waffles seamlessly combined in my mind), was never really ours to begin with.
Blueberry Wheat Waffles
Serves 4, providing either 4 extra large waffles or 16 mini-waffles
Slightly adapted from Self Magazine via Epicurious
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup oat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup 2 % milk
1 pint blueberries
2 handfuls walnut halves
2 tablespoons butter, melted
-Heat waffle iron; coat with cooking spray.
-Whisk flours, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon and salt in a bowl.
-Add remaining ingredients; mix until lumpy.
-Spoon batter onto iron (2-3 teaspoons makes about one waffle, albeit an imperfectly sized one); cook 3 to 5 minutes.
-Repeat with remaining batter.
-Lightly butter and drizzle with maple syrup.