Monthly Archives: February 2020

The infinitive is infinite.

 

 

In a text I bought for my German course, Basic German: A Grammar and Workbook, 2nd Edition, by Heiner Schenke, Anna Miell, and Karen Seago, pg. 7, it says:

 

A verb with a personal ending — e.g., Woher kommst du? Ich wohne in Frankfurt, Woher kommst du? — is called a finite verb. This is in contrast to the infinitive form of verbs.

 

I never knew.

In other words, a verb when used with a subject and tense — we speak, they spoke, English is spoken — is finite, determinate; there is definite action, occurrence.

But, yes, Shakespeare can write to be or not to be, but to be is timeless, so to speak. But, I was satisfied — this refers to the past and an actual point on time, whether specified or not.

 

 

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I love learning new things. In the category of learning “I never knew that.” Something simple that should have been obvious, but that for me represents a discovery.

When you learn it, some fundamental that increases overall understanding is now part of your mental repertoire.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   February 2020

“Ar ne kuth”

 

 

Ar ne kuthe ich sorghe non
nu ich mot imane min mon;
karful wel sore ich syche

Geltles ich sholyc muchele schame;
help God, for thin swete name,
kyng of heuene riche.

Jesu crist, sod God sod man,
louerd thu rew upon me,
of prisun thar ich in am
bring me ut and makye fre.

Ich and mine feren sume,
God wot ich ne lyghe noct,
for othre habbet misname
ben in thys prisun ibroct.

Almicti, that wel lictli,
bale is hale and bate, heuenking,
of this woning ut us bringe mote.

Foryef hem, the wykke men,
yhef it is thi wille, for wos gelt
we bed ipelt in thos prisun hille.

Ne hope non to this liue
her ne mai he biliue,
Heghe thegh he astighe
ded hym felled to grunde.

Nu had man wele and blisce,
rathe he shal thar of misse.
worldes wele midywisse
ne lasted buten on stunde.

Maiden that bare the heuen king,
bisech thin sone, that swete thing,
that he habbe of hus rewsing
and bring hus of this woning,
for his muchele milse.

He bring hus ut of this wo,
and hus tache werchen swo
in thos liue, go wusit go
that we moten ey and o
habben the eche blisse.

 

 

Previously I knew no sorrow,
now I must give voice to my grief:
full of care I and suffering. I sigh.

Guiltless, I suffer great shame:
help, God, for your sweet name,
Lord of heaven’s kingdom.

Jesus Christ, in truth God, in truth man,
Lord, have pity upon me,
from this prison that I am in
bring me out and make me free.

I and some of my companions,
(God knows that I do not lie)
for other men’s misdeeds
have into this prison been cast.

Almighty, who very easily
is remedy and cure for pain, heaven-king,
from this misery may liberate us.

Forgive them. the wicked men,
God, if it is your will. for whose guilt
we have been thrust into this evil prison.

Have no hope in this life.
for here he may not remain.
High though he ascends,
death will fell him to the ground.

Now man has wealth and bliss,
but soon he shall lose them.
The wealth of the world certainly
lasts not but a moment.

Maiden who bore the Heaven-king,
beseech your son, that sweet thing,
that he have pity on us
and bring us from this misery,
for his great mercy.

May he bring us out of this woe,
and teach us to act
so that in this life, however it may go,
we may forever
have eternal bliss.

 

 

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I heard this medieval song performed by soprano Jolle Greenleaf (her voice is incredible and virtually indescribable) in a concert of English medieval music by Tenet Vocal Artists at the Rare Book Room of the Strand Bookstore on February 13, 2020.

Pity the prisoners incarcerated, most of them with no purpose and for no good — I would guess this is true of about ninety-five percent of the prisoners currently incarcerated — by our criminal “justice” system.

 

— Roger W. Smith

    February 2020

 

 

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“A common thread throughout medieval English sacred music, both in Latin and in the vernacular, is a devoted love of Mary. The sweetness of so much of English polyphony seems especially appropriate for music to celebrate Christianity’s great mother.

“In ‘Arne kuth ich sorghe non’ the singer, destitute and imprisoned, first calls out to Jesus for help. Finally, in the last stanza she turns to Mary, imploring her to intercede with her son Christ: “beseech thy son to have pity on us and bring us from this great misery.”

 

— program notes by Robert Mealy

Everyone wants to amount to something.

 

 

I didn’t think I would be engaging in psychobabble so soon again, but I got to thinking about something today while I was out and about. A time when the mind wanders. (The thoughts are often not wasted.)

I got to thinking about things my wife and I were talking about last night and comments she made that I found insightful and worth considering.

But first, something else I recalled this morning — not necessarily related — but I thought I saw a connection.

 

 

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I have a male friend almost the same age as me whom I sort of inherited from another acquaintance of mine. We usually get together for lunch or dinner. We have a prolonged conversation when we meet. Sometimes he seems in need of companionship and will tend to talk a lot without being a great listener, and sometimes his conversation can be tedious and filled with the minutiae of his daily life: things that would not likely be of interest to someone else.

I have told my wife many times about what I perceive to be [     ]’s being “challenged” when it comes to [     ]’s lack of communication/social skills. But I usually qualify this by saying “[     ] is really a good guy. He means well.”

He’s never mean-spirited.

[     ] seems to be one of those people who are highly intelligent and could run circles around you or me in many school subjects but who do not have a high emotional IQ.

The incident I recalled this morning was when I met [    ] last year for lunch at a diner where we often rendezvous. I was five or ten minutes late. We had agreed to meet there, not outside. I entered the diner. [     ] was already seated in a booth. I walked past it and was looking for him. When I finally found him, he erupted, so to speak, with comments such as: “How could you miss me? I was right there?”

He kept at it. I got annoyed and said: “What’s the big deal, [    ]? Who cares? I’m here, aren’t I? You said to meet you here, didn’t you? You have a problem with that?”

I was actually annoyed.

I told this story a day or two later to a friend, who made a perceptive observation. I was too dim to have seen it. “That’s his way of relating,” he said — in other words, that [     ]’s browbeating me was a kind of (awkward) conversational gambit.

 

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Recalling this this morning, I thought about the conversation with my wife last night.

We were talking about people we have known who often seemed to be exaggerating their achievements or accomplishments.

The parent whose son or daughter wrote an article for the school paper who it is quite possible will become the next George Will or Maureen Dowd.

The person in a firm or organization whom you know through acquaintance with the firm or them personally who is supposedly a mover and shaker or very important, and it turns out that they are not as important or successful as they claim to be.

When I find out about such “deceptions” — you hear from someone’s spouse that their partner has started his or her own business and is knocking ‘em dead, only to find out later that they have an office and business cards, but very few clients — I tend to joke about such stories repeatedly with my wife.

Don’t be so quick to, she said.

As we followed this train of thought a little further, I realized that she was right. What she said was that everyone wants to amount to something; I realize that this applies to ME. Whatever accomplishments I have — this includes very small and/or not notable ones — I want to be recognized and perhaps acknowledged for them; and, what’s more, for this to lead people to credit me with being admirable in some respect or another. And when it comes to conversational gambits like my friend’s, I myself am constantly trying to engage people I meet or associate with with self-styled clever, witty remarks which may or may not interest, amuse, or engage them

 

 

— Roger W Smith

   February 12, 2020

Elizabethan music (Campion, Dowland, Morley)

 

 

 

 

cover - Elizabethan LP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
I am posting here the music from an LP that I treasure which I purchased in the Brandeis University bookstore around fifty-years ago.

Exquisite sentiments, beautiful music for voice and lute, clothed in beautiful words.

 

Side 1 (the first track here) is comprised of nine songs composed by Thomas Campion, who wrote the lyrics (he was a poet and composer), from “Rosseter’s Book Of Ayres.”

Side 2 (the second track) is comprised of two songs by John Dowland (“I Saw My Lady Weep,” “Flow My Tears”) and four songs by Thomas Morley (“It was a lover and his lass,” “Mistress mine, well may you fare!” Can I forget what Reason’s force,” “Fair in a morn”) from the “First Book of Ayres”. The words to “It was a lover and his lass” are from Shakespeare’s As You Like It.

 

I have modernized spelling in many instances.

A final thought: I heard one of these songs being sung by a soprano on the internet today. Beautiful voice and rendition. But I feel that these songs call for being sung by a male voice (as they almost always are).

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

    February 2020

 
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SIDE 1

 

Thomas Campion

nine Songs From “Rosseter’s Book Of Ayres”
“My Sweetest Lesbia”
My sweetest Lesbia, let us live and love,
And though the sager sort our deeds reprove,
Let us not weigh them. Heaven’s great lamps do dive
Into their west, and straight again revive,
But soon as once set is our little light,
Then must we sleep one ever-during night.

If all would lead their lives in love like me,
Then bloody swords and armor should not be;
No drum nor trumpet peaceful sleeps should move,
Unless alarm came from the camp of love.
But fools do live, and waste their little light,
And seek with pain their ever-during night.

When timely death my life and fortune ends,
Let not my hearse be vexed with mourning friends,
But let all lovers, rich in triumph, come

And with sweet pastimes grace my happy tomb;
And Lesbia, close up thou my little light,
And crown with love my ever-during night.
“Though you are young”

Though you are young and I am old
Though your veins hot and my blood cold
Though youth is moist and age is dry
Yet embers live when flames do die

The tender graft is eas’ly broke
But who shall shake the sturdy oak?
You are more fresh and fair than I
Yet stubs do live when flower do die

Thou, that thy youth dost vainly boast
Know, buds are soonest nipped with frost
Think that thy fortune still doth cry:
Thou fool, to-morrow thou must die

 

 

“I Care Not for These Ladies”

I care not for these ladies,
That must be wooed and prayed:
Give me kind Amaryllis,
The wanton country maid.
Nature art disdaineth,
Her beauty is her own.
Her when we court and kiss,
She cries, “Forsooth, let go!”
But when we come where comfort is,
She never will say no.

If I love Amaryllis,
She gives me fruit and flowers:
But if we love these ladies,
We must give golden showers.
Give them gold, that sell love,
Give me the nut-brown lass,
Who, when we court and kiss,
She cries, “Forsooth, let go!”
But when we come where comfort is,
She never will say no.

These ladies must have pillows,
And beds by strangers wrought;
Give me a bower of willows,
Of moss and leaves unbought,
And fresh Amaryllis,
With milk and honey fed;
Who, when we court and kiss,
She cries, “Forsooth, let go!”
But when we come where comfort is,
She never will say no.

 

 

“Follow Thy Fair Sun”

Follow thy fair sun, unhappy shadow,
Though thou be black as night
And she made all of light,
Yet follow thy fair sun unhappy shadow.

Follow her whose light thy light depriveth,
Though here thou liv’st disgraced,
And she in heaven is placed,
Yet follow her whose light the world reviveth.

Follow those pure beams whose beauty burneth,
That so have scorched thee,
As thou still black must be,
Till Her kind beams thy black to brightness turneth.

Follow her while yet her glory shineth,
There comes a luckless night,
That will dim all her light,
And this the black unhappy shade divineth.

Follow still since so thy fates ordained,
The Sun must have his shade,
Till both at once do fade,
The Sun still proved, the shadow still disdained.

My love hath vowed he will forsake mee,
And I am already sped.
Far other promise he did make me
When he had my maidenhead.
If such danger be in playing,
And sport must to earnest turn,
I will go no more a-maying.

Had I foreseen what is ensued,
And what now with pain I prove,
Unhappy then I had eschewed
This unkind event of love:
Maids foreknow their own undoing,
But fear naught till all is done,
When a man alone is wooing.

Dissembling wretch, to gain thy pleasure,
What didst thou not vow and swear?
So didst thou rob me of the treasure,
Which so long I held so dear,
Now thou prov’st to me a stranger,
Such is the vile guise of men
When a woman is in danger.

That heart is nearest to misfortune
That will trust a fained tongue,
When flattering men our loves importune,
They intend us deepest wrong,
If this shame of loves betraying
But this once I cleanly shun,
I will go no more a-maying.

“When to Her Lute Corinna Sings”

When to her lute Corinna sings,
Her voice revives the leaden strings,
And doth in highest notes appear
As any challenged echo clear;
But when she doth of mourning speak,
Ev’n with her sighs the strings do break.

And as her lute doth live or die,
Let by her passion, so must I:
For when of pleasure she doth sing,
My thoughts enjoy a sudden spring,
But if she doth of sorrow speak,
Ev’n from my heart the strings do break.

 

 

“Turn Back, You Wanton Flyer”

Turn back, you wanton flyer,
And answer my desire
With mutual greeting,
Yet bend a little nearer,
True beauty still shines clearer
In closer meeting.
Harts with harts delighted
Should strive to be united,
Either others arms with arms enchaining:
Harts with a thought,
Rosy lips with a kiss still entertaining.
What harvest half so sweet is
As still to reap the kisses
Grown ripe in sowing,
And straight to be receiver
Of that which thou art giver,
Rich in bestowing?
There’s no strict observing
Of times or seasons swerving,
There is ever one fresh spring abiding;
Then what we sow,
With our lips let vs reap, loves gains dividing.

 

 

“It fell on a summers day”

It fell on a summers day,
While sweet Bessie sleeping lay
In her bower, on her bed,
Light with curtains shadowed,
Jamy came: she him spies,
Opening half her heavy eyes.

Jamy stole in through the door,
She lay slumbering as before;
Softly to her he drew near,
She heard him, yet would not hear,
Bessie vow’d not to speak,
He resolved that dump to break.

First a soft kiss he doth take,
She lay still, and would not wake;
Then his hands learn’d to woo,
She dream’t not what he would do,
But still slept, while he smiled
To see love by sleep beguiled.

Jamy then began to play,
Bessie as one buried lay,
Gladly still through this sleight
Deceiv’d in her own deceit,
And since this trance begun,
She sleeps ev’rie afternoon.
“Follow Your Saint”

Follow your Saint, follow with accents sweet,
Haste you, sad notes, fall at her flying feet;
There wrapt in cloud of sorrow, pity move,
And tell the ravisher of my soul I perish for her love,
But if she scorns my never-ceasing pain,
Then burst with sighing in her sight, and ne’er return again.
All that I song still to her praise did tend,
Still she was first, still she my songs did end.
Yet she my love and Musicke both doeth fly,
The Musicke that her Echo is, and beauties sympathy;
Then let my Notes pursue her scornful flight:
It shall suffice that they were breath’d and died, for her delight.

 
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SIDE TWO

 

 

John Dowland, songs from the “Second Book of Songs or Ayres”

 

 

Dowland, “I saw my Lady weep”

I saw my Lady weep,
And sorrow proud to be advanced so
In those fair eyes, where all perfections keep;
Her face was full of woe,
But such a woe (believe me) as wins more hearts
Than mirth can do, with her enticing parts.

Sorrow was there made fair,
And Passion, wise; Tears, a delightful thing;
Silence, beyond all speech, a wisdom rare;
She made her sighs to sing,
And all things with so sweet a sadness move;
As made my heart both grieve and love.

O Fairer than aught else
The world can shew, leave off, in time, to grieve,
Enough, enough! Your joyful look excels;
Tears kill the heart, believe,
O strive not to be excellent in woe,
Which only breeds your beauty’s overthrow.

 

 

Dowland, “Flow, my tears”

Flow, my tears, fall from your springs!
Exiled for ever, let me mourn;
Where night’s black bird her sad infamy sings,
There let me live forlorn.

Down vain lights, shine you no more!
No nights are dark enough for those
That in despair their last fortunes deplore.
Light doth but shame disclose.

Never may my woes be relieved,
Since pity is fled;
And tears and sighs and groans my weary days, my weary days
Of all joys have deprived.

From the highest spire of contentment
My fortune is thrown;
And fear and grief and pain for my deserts, for my deserts
Are my hopes, since hope is gone.

Hark! you shadows that in darkness dwell,
Learn to contemn light
Happy, happy they that in hell
Feel not the world’s despite.

 

 

 

Thomas Morley. songs from the “First Book of Ayres”

 

Morley, “It was a lover and his lass”

It was a lover and his lass,
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
That o’er the green cornfield did pass,
In springtime, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.

Between the acres of the rye,
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
Those pretty country folks would lie,
In springtime, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.

This carol they began that hour,
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
How that a life was but a flower
In springtime, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.

And therefore take the present time,
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
For love is crownèd with the prime
In springtime, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.
— from William Shakespeare’s As You Like It

 

 

Morley, “Mistress mine, well may you fare”

Mistress mine, well may you fare!
Kind be your thoughts and void of care,
Sweet Saint Venus be your speed
That you may in love proceed.
Coll me and clip and kiss me too,
So so so so so so true love should do.

This fair morning, sunny bright,
That gives life to love’s delight,
Every heart with heat inflames,
And our cold affection blames.
Coll me and clip and kiss me too,
So so so so so so true love should do.

In these woods are none but birds,
They can speak but silent words;
They are pretty harmless things,
They will shade us with their wings.
Coll me and clip and kiss me too,
So so so so so so true love should do.

Never strive nor make no noise,
‘Tis for foolish girls and boys;
Every childish thing can say
‘ Go to, how now, pray away! ‘
Coll me and clip and kiss me too,
So so so so so so true love should do.

 

 

Morley, “Can I forget what Reason’s force”

Can I forget what Reason’s force
Imprinted in my heart?
Can I unthink these restless thoughts
When first I felt Love’s dart?
Shall tongue recall what Thoughts and Love
by Reason once did speak?
No, no, all things save death wants force
That faithful band to break.

For now I prove no life to love
Where Fancy breeds Content.
True love’s reward with wise regard
Is never to repent;
It yields delight that feeds the sight
Whilst distance doth them part.
Such food fed me when I did see
In mine another heart.

Another heart I spied, combined
Within my breast so fast,
As to a stranger I seem’d strange,
But Love forced love at last.
Yet was I not as then I seemed,
Bur rathe wish to see
If in so full a harbour Love
Might constant lodged be.

So Cupid plays oft now a days
And makes the fool seem fair;
He dims the sight, breeding delight
Where we seem to despair.
So in our heart he makes them sport
And laughs at them that love.
Who for their pain gets this again
Their love no liking move.

 

 

Morley, “Fair in a morn”

Fair in a morn, O fairest morn,
was ever morn so fair?
When as the sun, but not the same
that shineth in the air,
But of the earth, no earthly sun,
and yet no earthly creature,
There shone a face, was never face
that carried such a feature.

And on a hill, O fairest hill;
was never hill so blessed,
there stood a man, was never man
for no man so distressed.
This man had hap, O happy man;
no man so happed as he,
For none had hap to see the hap
that he had happed to see.

As he beheld, this man beheld,
he saw so fair a face,
The which would daunt the fairest here
and stain the bravest grace.
Pity, he cried, and Pity came,
and pitied for his pain,
That dying would not let him die,
but gave him life again.

For joy whereof he made such mirth
that all the world did ring,
And Pan with all his nymphs came forth
to hear the shepherds sing.
But such a song sung never was,
nor ne’er will be again,
Of Phillida the shepherd’s queen,
and Corydon the swain.

Take the high road.

 

 

I will admit, sheepishly, that this brief post is a little (or more than a little) in the self-help vein.

Call me a self-help guru.

I usually try to illustrate pieces based on my musings with examples drawn from experience. In this case, it seems to behoove me to be as general as possible without referring to actual persons except in the most general terms.

So, I will just say that my wife and I know someone whom we have had little direct contact with over the years, but whom we have to deal with rather often.

My wife and I share stories about her overbearing, imperious manner. We both find her hard to deal with, equally so.

Today, I had a brief interaction with this person. When I have to deal with her, I find myself not only reluctant to do so but intimidated beforehand.

To cut to the chase, since I don’t want to go into details, today I tried to put my best foot forward and addressed this person directly, politely when she picked up the phone. I had called her about something.

After I got off the phone, I told my wife that it seemed to go well and that it seems best when dealing with people who can be overbearing and difficult: (1) don’t be obsequious; (2) don’t waste their time; (3) be polite; (4) don’t look for trouble; (5) treat them with respect, as if they deserve it, and be as pleasant as possible.

I wonder if it may be the case that overbearing and/or obnoxious people fear that others do or won’t like them, which makes them act worse.

The high road seems to work.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   February 11, 2020

 

new post – Theodore Dreiser, “My City”

 

 

It’s on my Dreiser site at

 

https://dreiseronlinecom.wordpress.com/2020/02/06/theodore-dreiser-my-city/

It beautifully expresses my own feelings about my adopted city.

 

 

Roger W. Smith\

   February 6, 2020

 

“Faith Healing”; “Indian Culture”; review of “Mayor” by Edward I. Koch (three journalism school papers by Roger W. Smith)

 

 

Faith Healing

 

Indian Culture

 

review of ‘Mayor’

 

 

I wrote these three papers in 1986-1987 for courses in the Graduate School of Journalism at New York University. The topics, which I chose, were “Faith Healing” and “Indian Culture,” for an introductory reporting course; and a review of Mayor Edward I. Koch’s book Mayor, for a course in city reporting. It should be noted that the second paper was on American Indian culture; the term Native American did not seem to be widely used then.

In any profession or avocation where skill is required, no instruction or practice is ever wasted. This was true of these assignments. And, they were interesting ones.

 

 

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A few additional comments.

I had some vague acquaintance with spiritual or faith healing as something that had become popular, but no prior experience of it as a participant or observer. My friend Bill Dalzell, who was interested in charismatic religion, had told me about father Ralph DiOrio, the healing priest, whose home base was in Massachusetts. My friend Bill believed in the psychic or mystical as they apply to the real world and to the body. I believe that he attended one of Father DiOrio’s healing masses.

The healing mass that I attended was on a Friday evening in Bayonne, New Jersey. I called ahead to ask if I could attend the service in a reportorial capacity. I was told that I was welcome to. But, on that evening, at the mass, the priest seemed almost angry that I was there; he was not willing to be interviewed.

The parishioner whom I interviewed for my story, Sal, was a truly nice guy. He was very willing to talk, eager to tell his story. He was with his wife, who let Sal do the talking.

Sal said we should talk in a pew in the back, which we did, he speaking very softly, quietly, presumably because he didn’t want to disturb the service.

In my Monday morning therapy session, I told my therapist, Dr. Colp, all about the healing mass. Dr. Colp, the man of reason and science–he was a non-practicing Jew — was very interested. He did not scoff at what Sal (as I told him) had to say. He said there was reason to believe that what Sal had to say about healing masses having resulted in the remission of his cancer might be valid. This was consistent with Dr. Colp’s envisioning a day when “more is learned about the mind-body interaction,” as he put it in his book To Be an Invalid: The Illness of Charles Darwin.

 

 

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The only interview I conducted in person for my story about American Indian culture was with Yvonne Beemer, a Cherokee Indian about my age who lived in New York City. The rest of my interviewing was done by phone.

I never had met a Native American person before.

I did meet one other Native American person by chance once, shortly thereafter, at a wake. He was a Mohawk who worked in high steel with one of my wife’s relatives, who was a rigger. His first name was Joe, and his coworkers–this was in the 1950s when such things would not have been thought (which they now would be) derogatory or insulting–called him Indian Joe.

My wife made a point of introducing us. Joe (whose last name I was not told) was very receptive to conversation. I was getting into it and was eager to talk with him, but an officious busybody relative of the deceased who was at the wake interrupted us about something stupid and ruined the conversation. (I had read Joseph Mitchell’s New Yorker article “The Mohawks in High Steel” and all or part of Edmund Wilson’s Apologies to the Iroquois.)

I also read (mostly skimmed), with great interest (with regard to the parts of the book I read), a book which I purchased at the Museum of Natural History: Lewis Henry Morgan’s magnificent and groundbreaking study League of the Iroquois. I believe that all this reading came after I wrote the journalism school paper.

The major influence on me, what stimulated my interest in American Indian culture (especially Iroquois culture), was the works of Francis Parkman, which I read in their entirety in the mid-1980s before attending journalism school–particularly Parkman’s The Jesuits in North America, which was a fully engrossing and stark narrative: what the Jesuits experienced, suffered, and went through in Canada. The nobility and ultimately tragic futility of their endeavor seems to be mostly unappreciated and largely forgotten.

 

 

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I enjoyed Mayor Koch’s book. And I liked the mayor. For his feisty personality and as a quintessential New Yorker, though I didn’t necessarily or always agree with his politics.

Some fifteen or twenty years ago, I was walking at midday during lunch hour on a gravel path in Bryant Park, right behind the New York Public Library. Oddly at that hour, there was no one else on the pathway; the park was quiet.

A man was walking in the opposite direction, towards me. Our paths crossed. It was Mayor Koch. He was retired then.

We made eye contact, with Mayor Koch looking at me, for a moment, inquisitively or intently. I felt certain that he knew that I knew who he was.

We were not that close distance-wise (something — as a factor in human interaction — that the anthropologist Edwin T. Hall brilliantly studied in his book The Hidden Dimension), but we were close enough, as I have said, to make eye contact, and Koch gave me a friendly and inquisitive look as if he found or conceived of me to be an interesting person. I should have said, “hello, Mr. Mayor.”

 

 

— Roger W Smith

   February 2020

 

 

 

Scan (2)

frontispiece, Francis Parkman, “The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century”; France and England in North America, Volume Two (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1910)