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.