You were my best man, we agreed it over quenelles de brochet and Corton. You thought it unexpected, and accepted so gladly, I was pleased. Do you remember, when we could hear Böhm conduct Fidelio at the Met or Serkin in the sonatas, that we chose Carnegie Hall? It was natural for us, for Beethoven's bicentennial; like sorrel soup in May out in your garden. I fear you must have known, it was an explosion of resistance that saw my father take your place, on the pretense, he'd expected it: the ladies of the moment were disturbed. In the way they read my Ansel Adams of the farmer behind a screen door, and made me take it down - her care-drawn face so beautiful in the filtered light - your mild and quiet elegance frightened them as if a property of mine, as if reproving them. Yet another signal to abhor what I admire, as I did, them; not done to show me weak, but then to what effect? Why should they want the promise that was left?
Now I am not free to praise your quiet soul, your brave and sparkling intellect, still far from you, anonymous, without remembered shame. Oh, show to me your sketches, my best man.
How very satisfactory: the demonstrably open scale of the v-neck warrants the same in the lenses. With his buttoned but daytime Henleys, no doubt, he resorts to optics more in the pince-nez dimensions of much familiarity these days, which would read the high French sleeve entirely wrong.
Here, although the effect may strike us as equally studied, it's impregnably proportionate, and well on its way toward stimulating a sociable conjecture.
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?
The edited version of this entry will appear shortly. The comparatively reason- able desire for a timely continuity between "rapture" and "despair" represented no undue pressure, but the un- wonted challenges of select- ing a necktie and scent for a long day of medical amuse- ments in town, splitting the difference between exuberant Spring and subdued patient- hood, meant that this entry took unsteadier flight from the pan than the china could bear.
A pity to have come all this way, Hercule, to find that Lucy had snatched the football away.
Quite right, Auguste. Yet I've been hearing, he shouldn't have been up, kicking so soon.
Too bad, even so. I'm told the illustration was quite racy.
That's interesting, Auguste; I'd been thinking we might make some of our own pictures, this fine day.
The other day I was called as if to a meeting where ancient streams composing soils of flint and lime- stone, marl and precious sea fossil have set the stage for the most ad- mired castles in this world, and graced us with fruit of treasured delicacy, by a lady wishing to find the prettiest wines from this land where she has lately moved. I must say, slowly here recuperating from a surgery on my bloodstream, to be invited to survey the Loire from this perspective was like being al- lowed to audition a class of angels.
For me the beauty of a fine wine
lies not in its autonomous excel-
lence, but in its capacity to con-
jure the image of the civilisation
which produced it, from the vine
that was tended, in the ground and
in the year of its harvest. Wines
report to us of that degree of care
and comprehension, and of those pa-
rameters of fortune and technique;
and it is only natural to be drawn
to such confluences at their most
articulate - even, as in the case of the Loire, their most graceful.
I do not refuse the natural perspective
to discover that the subject of wine
is not merely my nourishment, my
pleasure, my reverence for achieve-
ment, but rather that it is the won-
der which is our inheritance of this
world, of which it is so revealing. It is not an interest of this page, to reform the rhetoric of experts in their guilds, evangelists in their wallows; but there are people whom we love to be looked out for, and a human right to beauty in this world.
For this reason, I resist, recoil
from praises of wine which denote a
perfected rapture in its own being, the mantras of merchants conditioned by covetousness of rarity and price, evoking the chase of the Maltese fal- con or the deliriums of Kundry, be- cause at best (and there is no mis- taking it in the glass) wine is an analogy of something which, perfect or not, is still to be extracted to our enlightenment and to our consolation, recompensing labour first of all, to the credit of its innocence.
Enlightenment, because every vintage
we could praise for its surpassing
elegance of proportion -- the thing
we are always really talking about
and truly looking for, whether we
know it or not -- says something to
us by happenstance of factors as
arbitrary as fine weather, of how
much of our civilisation is contin-
gent upon variation beyond our grasp.
And to our consolation, because
every vintage which can be praised
for the beauty which men have been able to husband, glows first with their humility.
the memorisation of the body of a peer. This begins upon arrival, is sustained through the entirety of youth - academic separations aside - and continues to be second nature, inextinguishable even by our eman-
cipations. Singular for not impos- posing conditions of interest, the fraternal body is the least aloof, and is egalitarian, permissive, im- partial, empirical, constant. The cause of nothing.