Saturday, March 08, 2008


I suppose a plurality of the folks who've moved to south Florida for the more-or-less constant warmth would consider us masochists, but we like to take in a little real winter once in a while. Got back yesterday from a rather frigid New York to be greeted by some of Florida's weirder weather – torrential rains & high winds last night, followed by a blissfully sunny (but rather humid) day today with the prospect of what they call a "cold front" moving in tomorrow.

The 4 of us squatted for 5 days in an apartment that could fit into the master bedroom closet of many of the macmansions down here, tripping over toys & books & small children at every turn. It would have been claustrophobic if it weren't New York, where there's something to do & somewhere to go all the time – & even then, it got pretty claustrophobic. The only bit of real culture – the one family outing to the Metropolitan Museum was J. & P., leaving me to take D. to the Children's Museum for the 3rd bloody time – was an evening at City Opera, where we caught Mark Morris's adaptation (reduction?) of Purcell's King Arthur. A splendidly silly early baroque musical really, with text by Dryden & really luminous music. (Michael Nyman has spun about 8 hours of music out of the "frost" scene, last time I counted.) Morris – he's more a dance guy than a conventional opera guy, I gather – opted to cut a few things: all the (spoken) dialogue, the characters, & the plot, leaving King Arthur as something of a dance revue, where dancers performed in whimsical modern costumes to beautifully performed Purcell "numbers." Great fun – for a while. But after a couple of acts, it began to feel like postmodernism lite, & I found myself hankering for the different kind of silliness that Dryden & Purcell themselves had cooked up – fairies & goblins & Saxons & all.

Stuck in an apartment full of an educated New Yorker's books, my own bag bulging with recent dense volumes of criticism I'm supposed to be reviewing, of course I ended up hauling down a copy of The Fellowship of the Ring & trawling thru it in something less than 4 days.

I snuck away one evening to The Strand, where I came away with the usual ragbag of slim volumes of poetry, volumes of criticism, & thises & thats. The real find was a recent translation of Flemish philosopher Arnold Geulincx's Ethics. Geulincx was a Cartesian & a close contemporary of Spinoza's, tho nowhere near as interesting as Zukofsky's "blessed" one. I suspect the only reason this rather weird tome got itself translated into English is the influence Geulincx had on Samuel Beckett, who found the philosopher's most famous quotations – Ita est, ergo ita sit ("it exists, therefore it is so") & Ubi nihil vales, ibi nihil velis (roughly, "Where you are worth nothing, there you should want nothing") – very congenial to his own grumpy pessimism. Cf. Murphy.

1 comment:

Emily said...

Although I've had a few trips up north this winter (Chicago, mid-MO, and SD), I've really not had a lot of winter -- the winter coats are in the coat closet, rather than in storage, but still, we've not experience enough winter.

Nevertheless, the restlessness of late winter/early spring is apparently ingrained in me. I somehow seem to have cabin fever and/or the late winter malaise.

At least I'm going to attribute it to that, and not to all the other external pressures of the moment.

I'm sort of missing the north because the late winter blahs make more sense. Or at least I'd have some of the joys of winter that I lack here.