A recent observation and interest of mine was sparked by breakfast—both in its preparation and consumption. Depending on the day, particular circumstance and individual tendencies, breakfast can take place in a number of different ways. There are those who enjoy a finely prepared, well calculated and orderly start to their day. Others experience a more rushed or chaotic meal.
Either way, the order/chaos dichotomy seems to infiltrate every aspect of our daily lives. They are two extremes essential to existence and also prominent throughout literature. Order/chaos captures something that takes place within individual consciousness, communal revolutions, within organizations and on a global scale.
The Canadian writer Ethel Wilson’s short story “The Window” explores the order and stability that accompanies its protagonist’s isolation from society. Margaret Atwood’s Progressive Insanities of a Pioneerforegrounds the human desire to impose order through her pioneer’s need to “dig the soil in rows” and asserts that “I am not random” in this chaotic new wilderness. One aspect of Michael Ondaatje’s The Collected Works of Billy the Kid explores the inevitable chaos that occupies a continuously changing physical body. Finally, the infamous “The Dunciad” by Alexander Pope is an account of the disintegration of poetry into chaos and filth, due to its mass production, which accompanied the growing use of the printing press.
The neat contained yolk of a fried egg may be scrambled into the chaotic blur of onions, tomatoes and cheese. As such, breakfast may be emblematic of the order/chaos dichotomy, both in life and literature.