I begin to ask myself what it could have been, this powerful taste that brought no proof, but the overwhelming experience of wretchedness, of the degradation of the human soul in this age of unreality, of the putrefaction of good sense and beauty and harmony.
And then I dip the pumpkin spice madeleine in the coffee again, and it all unfolds before me. The flavour, haunting in its stupid familiarity, calls into the recesses of my soul. It reeks of burnt beans and misspelled names and lascivious squirts of vanilla syrup from moldy tubs. Suddenly, just as a cup sleeve of corrugated cardboard that seems flat, given a tiny amount of pressure from the fingers, pops into a round window, an effigy of protection from a boiling beverage, the memory takes shape before my eyes.
I am a teenager, in a suburb with no identifying marks whatsoever, its relentless blandness a war against beauty or sensual experience. I do not really like coffee, but I fill a cup with six packets of sugar to make the bitter liquor somewhat palatable. Soon I discover a way to burn even the last trace of flavour away, a corporate solution for any stubborn flashes of creativity that may remain in our hearts, a final goodbye to subtlety and variation and natural goodness, a toddler-like piefication of the world, and the cheerios and the pasta sauce and the Oreos and the egg nog and the low fat yoghurt rise up from my cup of coffee.
(Thank you, Ben, for the photo.)