I'm always a little amazed at the "vital" particle -- and its slight stature compared to the body of work it brings to life. I have spent days in furious and obsessive search for that "detail" -- which once turned out to be a date:
It was 1987 when Eric discovered the nation was insane.
and once, a flowering herb:
"Hemlock water dropwort" (Oenanthe crocata) the plant responsible for producing the sardonic grin. The candidate for the "sardonic herb," a neurotoxic plant used for the ritual killing of elderly people in pre-Roman Sardinia. When these people were unable to support themselves, the herb was given to them as an intoxicant and once in the grip of the poison, they were dropped from a high rock or beaten to death. It was also said to cause rictus laughter from the victim before death.
-- that was such a cool find though.
Details. It is so little we need, but what we need is absolute.
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