Chopsticks are columns. They might not seem like it, but they are. They are a strange sort of column since, in most cases, they are square at their base and round at their top. How should we sort this column into one of the columnic orders? In its simplicity, it is closest to a Doric or Tuscan column. But it is barely Tuscan, since it has an irregular progression, and is not used to hold anything up.
The Chinese largely refrained from using the column as an architectural device, content to deploy it as a culinary vehicle. For their buildings, they preferred large sweeping roofs which sit atop steady brick walls. Occasionally you see an ornamental Huabiao 华表 column, but these are barely structural. The focus in China is on breadth, as opposed to the western preoccupation with verticality. Multi-inclined ornamental roofs are supported by internal beams, making the column largely irrelevant. Chinese temples are all curved lines.
Oh, what’s that? You don’t think the chopstick is a column? Well then discontinue reading. This is my column, and I can write about what I want. In this temple, what I say is a column is a column, by nature of it having been written here. I can write about Chinese food or Architecture. I can write about anything. It doesn’t even have to be column related. I can write about Columbia or Colombo or George Calombaris if I want to.
I met George Calombaris once. I was in Melbourne to see a girl named Hetta, from Finland, who was undertaking a semester of study there. We were at dinner at The Press Club, George Calombaris’ flagship restaurant in the city. We had finished everything and been talking for a very long time. George Calombaris was sitting at a table in the corner, and as we left we walked past him. He looked up, nodded at us, and said how was the meal. I said the service was good but the scallops were a little dry. He paused. Then he said what do you do then? I said I study English. He said you think you’ll find a job with that? I said probably not. He said well, why don’t you start cooking scallops as a fallback, then you can make sure they’re exactly the right consistency in the future you pretentious little prick. There was an uncomfortable silence. He was sitting across from Eric Bana. He said this is Eric Bana. I said I liked you in Mary and Max. Eric Bana said thanks. Then he looked up at the ceiling and there was another long silence. Hetta said well we should be going. George Colombaris looked at me and said sorry under his breath. Eric Bana gave us a sympathetic smile.
Hetta and I walked home, and later that night we kissed under a large willow tree. The last memory I have of her she is cast in a silhouette, waving goodbye from the doorway of her house. In De architectura Vitruvius wrote that beautiful girls looked like Corinthian columns, but he was wrong. She was all curved lines, like a Chinese temple. She also felt sacred and distantly incomprehensible.
What’s that? A girl cannot seem like a Chinese temple? Well, no one asked you.
Harry Peter Sanderson