FRESH IDEAS: The beauty in the ordinary

From Claire Messud, at The New York Review of Books: "Daily, I slice bread with my maternal grandmother's bread knife. Neither beautiful nor valuable — its handle scored white melamine, its wide serrations still sharp — it connects me to my mother's hands (that used this knife) and to my grandmother's hands (smaller than my mother's, arthritic already when I was born); to my grandmother's kitchen, beloved in my childhood; and to the long-ago morning light that filtered through the sunroom into that kitchen, in a long-sold house, in a far-off city.

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"All this is present when I take it up and tackle a loaf. No other knife will do. Matisse, unsurprisingly, had similar feelings about the objects of his daily life. They delighted, inspired, or confounded him, in their humble ordinariness and in all that they evoked."

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