Too Early Spring.
This week fruit trees are in blossom, and daffodils are up. Spring arrives March 20.
At the Chinese Restaurant.
The eggplant in garlic sauce came, the eggplant not chunked up but in strips with beautiful purple stripes!
Reading the Sky.
After I played Edward MacDowell’s “Told at Sunset,” from “Woodland Sketches” (1896-1902), I remembered a discussion I had with a friend last summer. We were driving at sunset and I said that I wanted to learn to read the sky.
“You mean,” he said, “like ‘Red sky at night / Sailor’s delight?'”
“No, not the weather.”
“What else could you read?” he asked.
“There are colors, depth, clouds, wideness,” I said.
“Like reading tea leaves or Tarot cards?”
“Maybe,” I said. More like tea leaves. Images may or may not come.”
“What could they mean?”
“I don’t know, maybe only ineffable things. Maybe realizations.”
“Oh,” he said.
It was a short discussion.
Perhaps I’ll be like my new hero Fanshawe (see readings below) and go out each evening and see what the sky will reveal. If I do so, I will eventually see what is told me at sunset.
Theatre. Wake Forest University. Collidescope 3.0: Adventures in Pre- and Post-Racial America by Ping Chong and Talvin Wilks, directed by Ping Chong.
The production is a montage of incidents in which violence from white people has been directed toward African-Americans.
The ensemble of fourteen student players presented one of the best theatrical experiences I have seen.
Some of the scenes are not easy to watch. Violence and horror are evoked through testimony and action.
My three favorite scenes: the appearance of Paul Robeson before the House of Un-American Activities Committee (Robeson portrayed by senior Branden Cook), James Baldwin’s challenging white Americans (Baldwin played by senior Justice von Maur), and the planning of the violence against blacks by the white members of the Wilmington (NC)_ City Council in the 1989 Wilmington Massacre, a discomforting scene of pure hate.
The ending speech by Baldwin and the reflection of aliens (who are reviewing the episodes) offer reasons for this kind of violence and a challenge to white Americans for change.
Notes on Reading. Fiction. Nathaniel Hawthorne, Fanshawe (1828) in Hawthorne: Collected Novels. The Library of America, 1983.
I did not do research about why Hawthorne did not like the work, did not include his name on the title page, and sought to revoke publications. I liked it as well as I liked The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables.
It’s a simple, uncomplicated story, a love triangle of sorts, of two young students at a small college in New England, both trying to help the ward of the college president, who has been abducted by an unscrupulous man, wanting to marry her for her money. (He has told her that her father is dead and that she is in danger and must go with him.). One young man, Fanshawe, is a retiring scholar; the other is a temperamental, emotional man. Fanshawe saves the young woman. She offers her love, which he rejects to return to his quiet studies. She marries the other, and reportedly amends her husband’s wild ways.
There are first-rate character sketches of the president of the college, especially in his relationship with his domineering wife and of an innkeeper, who manages to be able to help both the villain and the hero.
There are well-drawn scenes: a young couple riding horseback on an outing on a beautiful day, the hearthside at the inn, a landscape of majestic woods, cliffs, a cave, and a stream, and a scene of abject poverty in a rural hut.
Notes on Reading. Nonfiction. David Oshinsky. Bellevue: Three Centures of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital. Random House, 2016
This is history as I like it. The story of Belleview is told through biographical sketches of physicians prominent in its history, medical crises (from yellow fever in the late 1790’s, cholera and typhus in the mid-nineteenth century, tuberculosis, influenza, and AIDS in the twentieth century, and Ebola in our recent times), and through the backdrop of politics in New York City. There is an interesting section on the evacuation of the hospital during Hurricane Sandy. Oshinksky’s writing is fast-paced and entertaining as well as interesting.