Sunday, June 8, 2008


Well, my man Icky has correctly pointed out that my previous post, entitled "Cellophane," isn't really about cellophane at all, but about Saran Wrap, or whatever the generic term for Saran Wrap is. The package I'm looking at is from Safeway, and the material is described as "clear microwaveable stretch 'n cling wrap," which is as a descriptor is clear and specific but certainly compact and certainly not elegant. In any case, Icky, who can be always counted upon for corrective feedback, once again delivers the goods:

Cellophane is made from wood or cotton pulp. You guessed it. Cellulose. It is the clear, stiff stuff though which you could see those powdered sugar donuts you got in desperation at Shaw's. It is the stuff that goes "pop" if you push a pencil through it. I can picture you trying to wrap a sandwich with it as it crinkles and springs back into its original flat state. Also, it is completely biodegradable, although the alkali and carbon disulfide solution that the pulp is dissolved in can create disposal problems. And did you know that if the viscose (as it is called) is extruded through a spinneret the resulting fiber is rayon.
The only reason I wrote the piece in the first place was because Icky had written me an email busting me about the post I had written the day before in which I had included cellophane as an alliterative, if admittedly somewhat arbitrary, element in a list of 13 possible blog post topics. "Sure," he wrote, " You are going to write about cellophane. It has been bubbling up, waiting for the last moment to emerge fully formed at which point you'll call on Erato and bestow it upon the world. I bet you don't know diddly (and that ain't Bo, rest his soul) about cellophane."

So I decided to write about cellophane, in order to prove a point, and in doing so I wound up proving his point, and not, alas, mine.

It's not that I didn't know what cellophane was, of course. But while I was writing and after I had written I had not so much as a clue that my brain had tossed up the wrong set of associations for the word. It's like when you play chess and you scan the board and see that there's one move that is going to lose a knight and you look for another so you go through your progressions and forty seconds later you wind up making the move you had already seen and discarded. Your opponent snaps up your knight and you say, "Yes, of course, duh, I knew that."

Doesn't generally happen to the good chess players, of course. But to the rest of us mortals, it's back to square one. All you can do: try again.

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