I have not entered middle age gracefully, but kicking & screaming against the loss of a youth which was, in retrospect, not really wasted but enjoyed rather copiously. But more & more I hear "time's winged chariot" & all that. I find myself ruefully sympathizing with Woolf's otherwise maddening Mr Ramsay, who, if thought is like a piano keyboard divided into twenty-six alphabetical notes, has reached Q, & is somehow stuck there:
But after Q? What comes next? After Q there are a number of letters the last of which is scarcely visible to mortal eyes, but glimmers red in the distance. Z is only reached once by one man in a generation. Still, if he could reach R it would be something. Here at least was Q. He dug his heels in at Q. Q he was sure of. Q he could demonstrate. If Q then is Q – R – Here he knocked his pipe out, with two or three resonant taps on the handle of the urn, and proceeded. "Then R..." He braced himself. He clenched himself...R is then – what is R?So better to leave behind the alphabet of thought, set aside the Phenomenology of Spirit for a day or two, & concentrate on what makes Mrs Ramsay & Mrs Dalloway happy: a successful dinner party. On the menu for this weekend: jasmine rice with saffron, a red lentil dal, palak paneer, and a brazenly spicy vindaloo, washed down with whatever potables the guests bring.
A shutter, like the leathern eyelid of a lizard, flickered over the intensity of his gaze and obscured the letter R. In that flash of darkness he heard people saying – he was a failure – that R was beyond him. He would never reach R. On to R, once more. R –
For the other Pete Cosey fans out there – watch yesterday's video, & tell me if the man isn't a deity! – there's a fascinating in-depth interview with public radio station KJZZ here. Well worth 45 minutes of your time.
And a shout out to my oldest friend Th., who has just celebrated his own only slightly less numerous birthday.