My recent teaching exploits have brought me in touch with some principles of formal logic. In the language of conditional statements, certain conditions might be required for the presence of other conditions, but the former are still not necessarily sufficient to establish anything on their own.
Once or twice a year I trot out a new favorite Morton Feldman quotation on this blog. Today, toward the end of my run, I suddenly arrived at a new understanding of this one: "For years I said if I could only find a comfortable chair I could rival Mozart."
We do make such a fuss about the conditions necessary for our success, our comfort, our happiness, our creativity.
I'd already mentally planned this post before tonight, sitting on the train, I encountered a fantastic passage near the beginning of E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime. I attempted to paraphrase it just now, but the original is just so good, so here it is. You'll notice, present hipster consensus be damned, that Doctorow eschews the Oxford comma.
"Coincidentally this was the time in our history when the morose novelist Theodore Dreiser was suffering terribly from the bad reviews and negligible sales of his first book, Sister Carrie. Dreiser was out of work, broke and too ashamed to see anyone. He rented a furnished room in Brooklyn and went to live there. He took to sitting on a wooden chair in the middle of the room. One day he decided his chair was facing in the wrong direction. Raising his weight from the chair, he lifted it with his two hands and turned it to the right, to align it properly. For a moment he thought the chair was aligned, but then he decided it was not. He moved it another turn to the right. He tried sitting in the chair now but it still felt peculiar. He turned it again. Eventually he made a complete circle and still he could not find the proper alignment for the chair. The light faded on the dirty window of the furnished room. Through the night Dreiser turned his chair in circles seeking the proper alignment."
p.s. Seriously. I can NOT STOP LISTENING to Buell Kazee.
That I've been cycling between him and Travis Laplante is perhaps sufficient to establish an idea of where I'm at these days.
10 Best of 2014
January: Wyoming and the Open
February: New Mexico and the Holes
Notes on The Accounts