I have finally done something I had promised to do here years ago. But it is posted at the Bookshop site under ‘annotations.’
I first knowingly encountered the Administrative State in 1972 when I went to City Hall in Boston to get a peddler’s license so that I might sell books and magazines on the street. I was under the delusion (illusion is too kind) that the First Amendment to the Constitution afforded me the right to sell almost any printed matter except pornography, and this being 1972, even that indecency would be overlooked. But the first week out on the street with my yellow pushcart (wittily named De Cart) got me a warning from the constabulary (i.e., the cops) who were charged with enforcement of the laws of the Administrative State, and I was told to get a proper license or I’d get a fifty-dollar fine. read more…
In related matters, my new novel, The knight’s tale, a story of the future, is now available in paperback from the mighty Amazon as well as in at least one fine bookshop. This novel was written a few years ago but only available until now in parts on my website. It has been part of an effort since beginning to write again to touch on several themes I believe to be important while playing with the many genres of fiction that I love and have read since I was a boy. With The knight’s tale my interests were the ongoing predilection of human beings for slavery as much as our amazing sense of regeneration, set in a future time when the worst has already happened but the best might be possible once again. The question is a simple one, if history repeats itself because we so often ignore it, might not the future come more than once? The adventure science fiction story was a staple of my youth and I hope I have done it some justice.
How is it that such a great composer as Asger Hamerik can be so forgotten? Can the mediocrity of our age actually be so overwhelming as to ignore even that rare genius who survived the smothering of the ‘modern’ to produce seven wonderful symphonies and an inspirational requiem, several operas and suites, and most of it while teaching right here in America? Perhaps I should be grateful that Rachmaninov and Mahler are still with us. Certainly he is not alone in being ignored while so much mediocrity was raised to set examples for the Broadway/Hollywood nexus of manufactured schmaltz and Götterdämmerung during the last century. Symphony orchestras play with their warhorses again and over again, as if to benumb audiences rather that present another recent example of why the Twentieth Century was such a hell-hole for human creativity as much as it was for the human beings themselves. In the same way that Shakespeare survives endless mutilation on the stage, Beethoven, and too few others can survive such rote, while Joachim Raff, Wilhelm Stenhammar, Johan Svendsen and others of such great imagination have seemingly been buried. Hamerik is my favorite of those I have found on my own. The murder of what has been labeled ‘classical’ music in the twentieth century has now been long successful. The audience has dwindled to so few that without state sponsorship, there would apparently be no full orchestras left, and this excuse is often given for the constant beating of the kettle drums, but that is only after the fact. The aesthetic suicide that was so facilely called ‘the modern’ was first imposed by the academy of the damned that is our educational elite. Yet another accomplishment they can be proud of.
Other than that, I don’t have an opinion on the matter.
September 12th, 1868
As you might imagine, I was quite surprised to see a notice in the Herald that you had returned to New York and opened your own practice. Congratulations! I do hope you are well otherwise. Indeed, the notice refers to a Mr. and Mrs., so double congratulations are in order. I am, myself, robust and quite sanguine over recent developments in my own practice, while having every expectation of further success here in Brooklyn. Regrettably, as of yet, I have not been so fortunate as to find my true helpmate.
I was disappointed at first that you had not been able to contact me straightaway, if only for advice, but now it has occurred to me that, sadly, you must have missed my previous letters and therein lies a better answer for your long silence and not some now forgotten slight. read more…
You get to a point in life where you ought to make out a will. I’m passed that.
You get to a point in life where you wonder if any of it—all the things you did or did not do—will be remembered, and for how long. Not whether or not any of it should be remembered. That’s not for you to judge, after all. But it was important to you. That’s all.
Nevertheless, in the scheme of things, I think some of what I did is worth something, and worth remembering—especially by the grandchildren. My kids have heard it all, pretty much. Their mother has seen to that. And too, she was never good at most secrets anyway. It was always best, if there was something you wanted everyone to know about, to tell her first. But then again, you didn’t have to tell her all that much. She always knew, anyway.
So listen to this if you haven’t heard it before and listen anyway if you have. I might be able to add a thing or two.
This is the way it worked—still works, I think.
I was a freak of nature. Not like your grandmother true, but different, in my own way. Claire’s talents are just better known.
Now, if you speak too readily or too often about a circumstance like this you’ll be thought of as nuts, as in crazy, or mad, and thereafter ignored. It’s our way as a society, I think. What we don’t understand we dismiss as impossible or accidental or incidental. And what we do understand, or think we do, we quickly tire of. We give little value to the familiar.
So, there’s the trick, isn’t it? Ambiguity. Our attention is maintained then by the fact that we recognize some part of the matter but not another and it piques our curiosity. And curiosity is the best thing to pique. And in my time, I have always piqued a lot of curiosity.
Yet, outside of the immediate family, not many know. And funny thing, you can give credit to your grandmother for that as well. When Claire does not want something known, you might as well talk to a wall about it.
And it is for that reason that you might be surprised about a certain facility I have. Not an ability, mind you. I’d say, more of a predilection.
I fly. read more…