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Iced Coffee

by CX

If you’re a lazy writer or a depressive realist[1] you might consider iced coffee as some kind of apt metaphor of a life lived: the first sip is the best and most sweet, and it only gets diluted and then more diluted from there, the last aesthetically un-pleasing slurp (where the sucking of air and liquid sound more like popcorn popping in a cup) is more water than drink now, with only a hint of what was once previously refreshing on your tongue and on your mind. Iced coffee, in this sense, is a conundrum of grave importance. You never get a consistent flavor throughout the course of an iced coffee. In fact, the essence of it, the very reason you wanted it, dies over time and dies quickly. The staple of drinks for those on-the-go, but the destination in relation to this drink is now in an arc of decay as you approach, for who wants to arrive someplace with a cup of something worse than when you first set out (i.e., the cup)? So you drink it quickly, but it feels like money wasted, doesn't it? Or at least too quickly wasted. The average, say, iced mocha, 16 ounces, is about five to seven bucks, so you’d want your money to stretch. But then take your sweet time and it all becomes watered down, unsweetened. Like life, perhaps. (Well, perhaps, if you’re like me, a lazybones. According to the depressive realist, old age has lost all youthful vitality and not worth the trip over, from young to old). So, inversely, the longer you take the worse it gets, faster. You could ask for less ice, but it’s the same problem on a smaller scale: like the difference between a Fat Man and a Little Boy, in terms of sheer destruction the scale is negligible, they carry destruction within them nevertheless. I’ve seen a café (meaning I saw it in a social media post, fed to me by an algorithm based on, and collecting from, data from previous posts) in Japan that serves the coffee inside a large block of ice, chilling the coffee while not melting fast enough to compromise the flavor, you get your consistency. But you, of course, lose the convenience of what makes iced coffee a viable on-the-go drink, not to mention the craftsmanship necessary to handle a block of ice (outside of buying a plane ticket, would you trust an United States citizen with a block of anything nowadays, much less ice?): this unwieldy thing is more trend than solution. And other solutions, like frozen fruit to keep a drink cool, just sounds plain wrong. So what, then? Precisely, perhaps one would, and should, probably, you know, hopefully, ask. It is simply ice and coffee. Maybe we should just resign ourselves in the face of this, because you lose whatever spirit the noun ‘iced coffee’ has if you tamper with the ice or the coffee: the melting of ice into coffee is an unavoidable contradiction that we must choose every time we choose this drink: you cannot have iced coffee without ice; you cannot live a life without struggle or antagonism. You must love your fate.

“Or you could put it in a thermos,” a co-worker said, after I’d gone over the above in a playful rant, a sort of verbal first draft, “Then you can have a cool drink all day!” And therein lies the limits of lazy writing, of a depressive realism. Both shut down rather than open up. Both engender solipsism. Both lack imagination and so suggests that everything will stay the same, but worse.[2] A space for any (radical) movement is inaccessible here: literal freedom is foreclosed. Because to write, to speak, is to reach out, out of the dangers of a morbid overthinking,[3] and when one finally reaches back, the simple illuminates and saves like grace.


[1] By which I’m referring to Ben Jeffery’s “Anti-Matter: Michel Houellebecq and Depressive Realism” which is a fun piece of literary criticism I recently, (meaning as of 8/10/2023, 12:38AM, as it reads on my computer) completed.

[2] Here I re-tooled Houllebecq’s quote on the COVID-19 pandemic, made on French radio: “We will not wake up after the lockdown in a new world. It will be the same, just a bit worse.” Given Houllebecq’s status as the depressive realist par excellence, it’s no surprise he uses the imagination against itself. Whether or not he’s necessarily a lazy writer, I’d like to say I don’t think so, given his literary output and accolades. Well, anyway…

[3] Which this piece, ultimately, is an exercise in.


About the Writer

CX is a fraud pretending to be a writer. All of their attempts can be found also on Many Masks Press, and other places like their trash bin.

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