Friday, March 30, 2012

Suppose it were Friday lix: Physics on my mind



Where were they, I find myself asking these days. I went to a college which was thought at the time to have the finest departments of math and physics in the country, but I never saw any of these people. Now that I find myself spending a fair amount of my free time, reading about them, I really wish we had held a mixer sometime, instead of for Vassar girls, where one could get to know a physics guy. I grant you, it would have felt unnerving, possibly like being on that bus coming down from Poughkeepsie: what on earth do I have to offer a physics guy? What do I wear? What do I say? Will I be just too stupid?


Oh, and what if they just wouldn't come? That's the big thing. Physics guys: would they turn up, just to meet a lot of people who simply can't help them at all, who can only speak French and look at paintings? And what do I do, just blurt out that I think it's only too terribly hot what they're doing, but would they please tell me what it is? What does it feel like, I always wondered, to think that way? When you walk along a path and the arch of your foot settles upon a twig, is this a sensation or some spontaneously clarifying solution to an anciently impenetrable conundrum? And how do you stand it when this hits you?


I never even shook a physics guy's hand, so far as I can recall. I shook my doctor's hand with thanks for her help the other day, and as I was walking away I turned to glance at her one more time, and saw her punching a wall dispenser to wash it immediately. I felt bad about this, but I understood the professional imperative. Would a physics guy have to wash if I touched him? I think maybe I want a physics guy to think something into my mind that I can feel in there, and follow how it moves, what it connects and what it eludes. I haven't had a physics thought and I think I'd like to have one, and maybe if I like it, many more.


But, yes. I want to know what this thing is that's so fine, so fair about physics thinking, that people who do it are as if always at St Barts or Guéthary, breathing different air and displacing time differently with their mind. I read my Larousse Gastronomique religiously, and I just know they know something about the fugitive whites of poached eggs that escapes me - and, but there you are: can you dream of having a physics guy for breakfast? I mean, has this ever been known to happen in the history of this college? "Physics Immortal Butters English Muffin to the Edification of Classicist." It's the headline of my dreams.


Friends say, you know, Try not to think about it so much. It makes one wonder, who are these people, to be so blasé about this phenomenal state of being? I don't see any of them, running around with a physics guy; nobody's ever texted me from any Spring break, that he'd found one - and believe me, I know they would. Possibly, I'm just overphysicsed; there's always someone around with a grin on his face, with that latest lollipop from abnormal psychology. But one can't be overphysicsed, when everything's already physics; even Heraclitus had that figured out. Am I, then, my physics guy?