Thursday, November 28, 2013

Our Own Well


                                Water is Earth’s Genius

   It’s astonishing! We own a well! My wife and I. A well of water!
   We had it dug-- or rather drilled-- up on the side of Sugarloaf Mountain. Precisely four hundred and one feet, straight down. That’s a football field with the behind the goal lines thrown in. Down through all sorts of granite, hard and soft, until the drill head reached an intrusion of white quartz, fractured so that it could carry water. Our water, in triumph!
    “Carry” water, I so carelessly say. Where was the water going? Where had it been-- at that considerable depth? Had it been there always, down in the bowels of Sugarloaf? Is it primordial? Is it ancient?
   But then all water is primordial, is it not? Has not all water been here--or there-- from the Beginning, used, abused, and reused? There is no new water, is there? On this exquisite, watery blue planet.
   Exquisite even when our water, like Hamlet’s king, goes “a progress through the guts of a beggar”. Or, when at home, the heavens load up and  water turns on us with a destroying flood -- in some strange sort or vengeance for I know not what…. Even then.
    I am not a hydrologist and so am free to think these things or whatever else comes up out of the well of my mind about water-- or the creatures who live on it.
   Years ago, visiting Mesa Verde, I saw way back, at the base of the cavern, right at the spot where the dome reached the floor, a seep of water, hardly noticeable to one who in the mountains has seen many such seeps and springs. But this tiny drip, behind the ruin of an ancient Anasazi stone house, was, I was to learn, adequate for the needs of a family. Enough water to drink, enough for cooking, maybe enough for a bit of washing…. It doesn’t take a whole lot, I was suddenly to realize. Sacred water, essential water, beautiful water. Just enough, flowing, dripping, cold and clear, from the stone immemorial. Water, the best companion of our lives.
   We now get our bit of it from our well at Sugarloaf, out of the great aquifer of the planet. I keep wondering if it has always been there? Did we tap into it for the first time? The water is cold, startlingly clear, pure and without stain. The poet W.B. Yeats wrote, over there in watery Ireland, that water is the soul generated. If suddenly the soul, whatever it is or is not, were to turn to substance, it would be water. Water of which we are mostly made and keeps us going, and reconciled to our days and nights.
   And now we own a well of it! “Own?” Perhaps I can own the well, but can I own the water it delivers? I think I borrow the water only for a time and then send it on to be used, abused, and used all over again, somewhere….
   The wondrous thing about water is that it can be purified. It can and has been freshened and used over and over and over, polluted, despoiled, dried up, you name it, and purified yet again. And still it cannot, in its nature, be destroyed. Its purification suggests the purification of the soul. With it we are anointed and blessed.  The evaporation over the vastnesses of the oceans, restores water to its primordial purity. Over and over and over-- until it ends up getting pumped out of that deep and secret bed of quartz at the base of Sugarloaf Mountain and into our very cabin.
    To think of it is to want to drink it. It tastes like… like what? Maybe it tastes like the word, “clarity”. It tastes clear of everything but itself with nothing in it but a wee bit of iron, or so the tests show. It supports good coffee, and a few drops illuminate good whiskey. It’s all-round water, and it thrills me.
   Cost? That first taste of the water was hideously expensive, thousands of dollars. But now that the well is paid for, the water seems to flow for free. It’s mine! Or is it? How can anyone own the necessities of the good earth? Who can properly be said to own them? It feels more like borrowing or renting to me.
   Still, I am glad to “own” this well. I dote on the mystery of it. So much that I cannot see, but only dream of. What can it be like down there where  light has never shone, nor eye seen? Can the quartz be white down there in that absolute  darkness? I feel in some crazy way that the water that flows up those four hundred and one feet to me is indeed the generation of the soul. To me and a trout. Nothing enjoys good, cold, clean water more than a trout. And I have sought the trout in such waters all over the place all over a life-time-- and so am qualified to speak in this way of water, fish, and the angler.
   I post this on Thanksgiving day of 2013 when I am profoundly grateful for our well,

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A New School

    Licensed by age and experience, I have prospected the trout fishing of these Colorado Rocky Mountains and have discovered lodes of high grade angling along the Front Range of Colorado. I feel confident in the claim that the Front Range-- with those who have advanced its angling literature, practice, and gear-- constitutes  an integral and distinguished sphere of angling of national import.   

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Saturday Night in Autumn

    What an autumn! So far, a bit of everything. Flood, shutdown, a bunch of good new movies, The War of the Roses all over TV, soft-ware in the way of the nation’s health, Shakespeare sneaking around, Christmas coming with maybe another shutdown. And, as if all that were not enough, on this Saturday evening in autumn, the CU football team took the field to get trounced again, this time sporting pink shoes, pink gloves and pink accessories! Surely a contest to be remembered in infamy.
   But, Betty and I avoided the worst of that Saturday evening, by sneaking through the homecoming festivities as the score piled up on the pink ladies over in the stadium, to get to quite another sort of event on our beloved old University Hill.
    In the Lutheran church there on Euclid, three stylish real ladies from the Shakespeare Oratorio Society --Shirley Carnahan, Anne Sandoe, and Giulia  Bernardini-- and four members of the excellent Boulder Renaissance Consort, took the stage to deal with a bunch of Shakespeare’s women. Their audience was sparse, but the performance was thick and luscious.
   The three women offered quick, hit-and-run fragments of scenes, speeches from Shakespeare’s grande dames in which they challenge their world-- or are destroyed by it-- all punctuated by bits of antique instrumental music.
   Svelte, unabashed, commanding, all in black, with their authorizing texts in their hands, the women set about causing the place to sing with their steadily intelligent, finely designed, intimate performance.
   I’m glad to say that I have of late come to realize that Shakespeare is a good deal more than the conventional, sit down and watch-em-through productions of his plays. I see now the great dramatist coming at me from every angle. A bit as small as a couple of his words together can set me off into a reverie of another world of experience. I must resist cataloging the myriad ways I now believe that Shakespeare gets to us, even to those who may know nothing of the plays.  Jane Austen has her Crawford in Mansfield Park say:

 Shakespeare one gets acquainted with without knowing how. It is part of an Englishman’s constitution. His thoughts and beauties are so spread abroad that one touches them everywhere; one is intimate with him by instinct. No man of any brain can open at a good part of one of his plays without falling into the flow of his meaning immediately.

    Perhaps that consciousness is not so vivid with us 200 years later and across an ocean of space and experience. Perhaps I should be worried that this sense of Shakespeare at work in our lives is steadily diminishing -- and I am. But, for the moment, I want to stand with Austen.
    I want to say that on Saturday night, with my hearing loss and my seat where an unfortunate echo developed, I had to fall back on my memory of the words these impressive women were speaking, on my memory of the situations in which the words occur. This said, I sat back and enjoyed a most wonderful spectacle. I watched Shakespeare-- and his characters-- take bodily possession of the women. I saw them bend to the words and heIp each other to sing. I heard it in their bodies. I believe the New Age word is  “channeling”. In any case, something true was going on: Shakespeare in the muscles, in the sinew, in the bone. I might have said, “in the bowels”.
   The words I could not hear accurately became an abstract, a music to my ears that made me want, like Caliban, to sleep and dream to hear it again. I filled in for what I could not hear from the good fortune of my memory.
    The ladies at a stroke took me into the play at hand, opened it up in its fullness in an instant of realization. I needed no more.
    I have spent a lifetime worrying about audiences, every audience, everywhere, what they are getting and what is passing them by; their satisfaction has been my professional responsibility. But, this night, with so few folk to worry about, I decided just to let go and take my pleasure where my instinct led. I deployed my memory of the plays and their unforgettable characters-- with the ladies’ urgent prompting and visual seductions-- and was in their thrall all over again. And only a few hundred yards from where Betty and I  first encountered Shakespeare so long ago.         


Monday, October 14, 2013

Someone Has To Do It

  On September 20, of recent memory, late that Friday afternoon, I suffered a medical emergency involving a good deal of blood that got out of place-- with considerable distress. I felt I needed medical attention at once and so began calling the appropriate physicians, hoping to talk to a “doctor on call”.
    What I got was a collapse of the telephone service that is supposed to treat between patient and physician at off hours. I could get through to no one.
    I considered 911; instead, Betty drove me to the relatively close ER, where they slammed me into the hospital for three days.
   And so, on behalf of all of us who perhaps have lived too long and must rely on the use of the telephone in our daily lives, and who, like me, daily encounter the careless, incomprehensible, responses of professional, commercial, public exchanges by telephone,
                                                   I Propose:
   To occupy rooms above Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall, to establish

Sunday, September 29, 2013

More about Theatres


In Memory of Professor Ralph Crosman
Dean of the College of Journalism
University of Colorado

    Boulder has, I think, ten stages on which I could produce a play-- if I had to-- and I don’t, thank heaven. I could list my count of ten, but I won’t. I’ve already written about three of them and now must tell you of my experience with our “Boulder Theatre” down town and the older Curran house that it replaced in 1935.
     Historian Silvia Pettem has written in detail about the Curran in the Camera for August 25, 2005. But, I might just be the only one left alive who was actually in it. It was, in any event, the very first stage on which ever I “appeared”.

Friday, September 13, 2013

On Buffalo Bill

I have gone here and there and made myself a motley to the view.
                                                               Sonnet 110

   Let us have done with stories of Buffalo Bill! We know them now by heart. Now let us have a theory of Buffalo Bill. Let someone come forth, blasting though the accumulation of tales of Cody’s derring-do-- endlessly reported by the Cody “establishment” of writers, readers, researchers, and cat skinners-- to tell the inner story. For all the turning over and over of the same old stuff, we still are not sure what made this great man tick.

    It dawned on me, back in the twenty years of my obsession, that Cody, on stage for ten years, was unique among all the actors who had ever acted.

   He played only himself, exclusively; only in rough and ready plays about himself; depicting, more or less, what he had lived through or was going through during his summers scouting out on the prairies.
   Apparently, I was the first to notice this most peculiar condition of Cody the actor, and so, I set out to try to understand it and thought that the advanced insights into performance as we think of it today could be revealing. I studied, wrote, and published.
    But no one paid any attention; no one seemed to have read my stuff. I was disappointed. My work was published twice and received in an utter void of response-- while the story-tellers kept on telling their tales to popular acclaim.

   (How much of this complaining can one blog bear before it shuts down, bows before the Cloud, its master, and goes slithering off to hide its face from me?)

    Anyhow, one editor of a leading scholarly journal to whom I submitted a manuscript, called up the full forces of her old guard of Cody specialists to howl their outrage at my suggestion that their man, their Cody, might have about him something that they had not noticed, let alone understood.

   (My father said that when he was twelve and Cody rode through the streets on parade, he thought, “Oh, if only I could look like him.”)

In memory of my father, then, I declare that there are today Six Codys in whom I can believe:

Mine, of course.

William Mooney’s grand monologue in which Cody himself tells his story. Mooney tricked me for a moment into believing in ghosts.

Robert Bonner’s defining study of Cody’s late years as a business- man and developer in Wyoming’s Big Horn Basin.

Arthur Kopit’s brilliant epic drama Indians,
where for me it all began.

Don Russell’s ground-breaking Cody biography of 1960.

And all the Cody material on display in the Buffalo Bill Museum
in Cody, Wyoming-- of course.

   The museum has much of Cody’s wardrobe. I have urged the museum to have a tailor measure those suits of clothes and reproduce them in canvass. Then, as with Cinderella, we can seek a man whom the mock-ups fit and, once and for all, know just how big a man Cody was and what his figure. (I believe, on the evidence of his shoes, that he had unusually small, even dainty feet.)
    But the museum, too, ignores me.
    I think I shall not again return to this subject in any kind of print. I have taken my revenge and now must be content to recall how during most of my life I thought of Cody as only a showman. Then, in a 70’s production of Kopit’s Indians, I saw a deeply troubling image of the man. It seemed profoundly important.
   I saw that I might always have been seriously wrong about Buffalo Bill.
   I realized how strange a thing it was for a professor of drama to speak of anyone as only a showman. I corrected myself and see now that Cody was one of the truly indispensable people of his-- and my-- time.

Friday, August 2, 2013

On Nature


 On the side of Sugarloaf Mountain, we thought construction had all but destroyed the meadow fronting our Cabin. It was scraped clean, down to the granite substrate.  We worried that it might never fully recover on that new surface of what appeared to be granitic sand.  But, Life itself has taken charge, and the flora of the mountain has returned with haste and with it, flowers that disappeared years ago. Nature is incorrigible.

    As if to cover its mineral nakedness, Planet Earth imagined LIFE and wrapped itself in a lavish kirtle of it, from the microscopic to the mammoth. And it was beautiful.
    Earth expresses itself to the universe as sheathed, covered, wrapped, obscured, by Life.*  Life everywhere-- all of it, striving for increase, expression-- and for consciousness.
    And, in the most superb of Life’s combinations, we humans appeared with a brain-deluxe and found that we could know about ourselves and, what’s more, enjoy that knowing. We began that most human of enterprises: organizing our knowing into a myriad of narratives. I for instance have told the story of brown trout in the Garden of Eden. But, just think what Mozart did with what he knew!
   When I look out into the night sky, I do not, as conventional wisdom would advise, feel insignificant and tiny in the face of all that majesty. I think the cosmos is a lovely, if mysterious, expanse of what, we cannot be sure. I am, meanwhile, overwhelmingly proud to be of Earth’s Order of Mozart. I see no reason to believe that there is his like anywhere “out there”.
   We are here to report on the universe to its self. If we don’t do it, it will not get done.
    We on Planet Earth, with Life on our side, have the universe under siege, demanding that it come forth with its secrets and hear the music.

 * Ira Feit, Professor of Biology, Franklin and Marshall College, c.1983. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

There Are So Many Things To Think About-- Before It's Too Late

    Before me is a bucket of gooseberries to be processed. Each and every berry must be picked up and aligned in the fingers of each hand. The blossom end to one hand, the stem end to the other. That dried blossom end must be removed as must the stem; otherwise the berries are useless. They are absolutely round, hard, green, and sour. When cooked up with sugar into a sauce, or pie filling they become delicious beyond the telling.
   I pick up a berry, and suddenly something wonderful happens: the thumb nail of one hand scuffs off the remnant of the blossom and the opposite nail “cuts” off the stem-- and the job is done-- for that berry-- almost before I can think to do it. It’s as though the nails had had a complete course of training.
   I think of those thumb nails doing their precise work so well. I try to imagine a finer technology for this work and cannot. In these days when “technology” is the password to contemporary living, I find myself sitting here with these gooseberries employing what may well be the oldest and even the first technology of them all: the nails on those miraculous opposing thumbs that are good for nothing in particular and just right for everything.
   They are surely one of the first principles in evolution-- from claws and talons to my sophisticated nails-- so ubiquitous are they among the species.
   I catch my breath at the thought of that first little African mother-of-us-all, busy discovering how many things she could do with her nails. I think we must call them The First Tool. We who tinker with things could not get through a day without them. I could not.
   Not only can these nails do their every work, they have a strange sort of consciousness about them. They seem to talk back and forth to the brain. They tell the brain when they have accomplished their task, sometimes, even, that the task is impossible and must be aborted. They even remark on the quality of the work. It’s as though I were a by-stander in my work with the berries.
    I drift off into a reverie as the repetitive action goes on and on, a full hour to do a single quart of berries. I dream away about this and that, and still the work goes on, and goes on well!
   I’m dazzled.
    And all of us, everyone, has this remarkable set of tools with us all the time, everywhere we go, If only just to scratch an itch. Think of it!
   I have written that an angler’s fly box is private and intimate, not for the gaze of the general. Our manicures are like our fly boxes, private, and personal-- nobody’s damned business. These nails are our most personal tools, to be kept up, cleaned, and sharpened, each in its own personal way-- for me right now, to work these berries.

Monday, July 1, 2013

This is too Long-- Polonius to Hamlet


An improvisation
in two parts
sixteen fragments

                                                                               PART I

   There is little point in being as old as I am unless it makes me the oldest living remnant of this or that. I have claimed to be the oldest living writer about angling in English and the oldest residual of Shakespearean production in Mary Rippon Theatre at the University of Colorado. Those earliest post- war productions of Shakespeare at CU can be remembered in me, “fragments” that they are.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

At Random on King Lear

King Lear

Three Times, I Done It

     It's devilishly clever of Shakespeare to have written a role like Lear, demanding an actor old enough to be convincing and by that time too old to get through it properly. Just like Lear himself who cannot get through his own play. He's too old. He dies before the end.

Most Lears are like mine, only less inadequate than mine.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

How Anglers Got Their Literature


The Whole and Ancient Company of Anglers

A “tedious brief” Essay
Part of a talk on writing about angling
 Gordon Wickstrom
The Bouldercreek Angler
Front Range Anglers


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Reflections on Acting

                                 Part Two
                   The Vanities of Research
   I think back, so many, years ago, when I first went to England  on a Fulbright in the mid 50s to try to discover the secrets of British classical acting. I ended up discovering a lot about a lot of things-- not a little about English fly fishing, medieval architecture, and  the glories of English theatre-going . But, the secrets of English acting proved elusive.

Reflections on

                    Reflections on Acting
                             Part Two
                   The Vanities of Research
   I think back, so many, years ago, when I first went to England  on a Fulbright in the mid 50s to try to discover the secrets of British classical acting. I ended up discovering a lot about a lot of things-- not a little about English fly fishing, medieval architecture, and  the glories of English theatre-going . But, the secrets of English acting proved elusive.
    Back then, English actors were reluctant to talk about their ‘’classical style,” given all that was happening with acting in America where Stanislavski had found a home. They were at best, guarded, and at worst, sheepish.
     Cells of "method" acting and its study, after the American manner, were cropping up here and there in London. And here and there I managed to find someone who was willing to talk to me. Sam Wannamaker, scion of the great Philadelphia store, was the peck’s bad boy about London what with his incessant flogging of the new American  dispensation for a new, more subjective, inner way of making theatre-- and a national theatre for England.
    My contacts flinched when I used the word “style.” Especially when I suggested that the English had a style. It was a word they generally feared, It’s having become tainted by long association with West End drawing-room, upper-class comedy. And, as far as classicism, whatever that might mean, well, “classicism” was the Shakespeare that John Gielgud did at the Old Vic and there was an end to it. Few there were who would stand up to defend that old stuff, however  accomplished-- and brilliant it might be. And it usually was brilliant.
   All in all, I was not a great success in my research.
   Now, just the other day, a good friend, an actor, director, and a real professional, said to me that he just "hated" the English actors, "they do it so well".  Meaning that they were such superb actors, especially with their prize possession, Shakespeare. Why could not we over here be as good….?
     So here I am worrying about “style” all over again. I ought at last to be able to come up with something to say at least faintly useful on the subject. So, I ask myself, point blank, what is it that they, the British actors, do so well?
    Here’s what I think-- as of today:
    English acting is crisp, sharp edged, clear-- and absolutely confident. The English actor is never in the least apologetic for either his work or his profession of it. He's sure of himself.  He brings to bear at any given moment of acting the full resources of his five-hundred year tradition and his long established institutions of actor training. And, he has learned well the lessons of his modernity: how to show the inner life of the characters he plays.
    His American cousin, on the other hand, is always full of doubt about his work and worry about his feckless, wandering profession. He has no secure tradition to back him up. Rarely has he a decent income, to say nothing of a real home. He’s always worried. Always looking for the next  gig.
   His work on stage appears to us to be just a bit soft- edged, just a bit blurred by his own suspicion that he has not got it right, that there might be a better way. His training has tended to thrust him onto his own inner resources, onto a landscape of the heart and mind full of slippery slopes and rocky barriers. Of doubts and fears. He knows no certain standard. He can often be brilliant without ever knowing it-- fearing even to think it. Or he can be awful and not know it.      Joy is only momentary in his profession. 
   I see him doing on stage and screen, work that in its “naturalness” would stymie his English counterpart. Often the American actor can take us dangerously close to the mega-real, from which there can be no return. It is a place where technique alone can never go.
   Sometimes, I feel exploded with national pride at the beauties of it, the courage of it, and its selflessness.
   Still, American actors tend to be apologetic in their ability to accomplish such access to character, while English actors are exuberantly confident. They understand themselves as trained professionals.
     And they expect to live a decent, respectable life in return for their efforts.
   The English have another advantage: that rich stable of old actors, actors who have been able to have a steady, rewarding profession of it. They have, of course, lived and worked in a small geography where getting around among the many outlying theatres is easy and inexpensive. They age beautifully with television as its record.
    Speaking of old actors: back then, I was at a luncheon table with Mary Fagan, the first to play Chekhov’s Madame Ranevskaya in English. Imagine that! She was, in the most charming manner, dismissive of her grand career, She understood that whatever she and her famous husband J.B. Fagan had done for Chekhov in England, the Russians and their Stanislavski had  o’er leaped the English theatre and come down full force in New York. All the while, the English theatre remained less given to psychological acuity and more to just “getting on with it”.   
     The Shakespearean tradition, in a presentational mode of performance always protected them. In New York, actors were on their own, clinging to whatever model or teacher in whom they could believe. They often became highly skilled at looking deep within themselves and their characters, hoping  to represent  truly their search into the wilderness of self.
    Sometimes I see our American actors do things, so beautiful as to bring tears to my eyes. But, there is little agreement among us in the audience. Our criticism is little more than bare report.
    All the while, I, like my friend who "hates" them for it,
 am swept away in that special admiration  of the British. 
I can’t get enough of it.
    The American actor is full of the dark secrets that polite folks --- like the traditional British would rather leave at home under wraps of a cultural reticence. The
American actor is ready to tell all. And it amazes me how vividly different and sometimes breath-taking that can make the American actor.
    Different? Yes. And that's about all I understand-- other than the abiding British excellence in speaking well and clearly, of seeing a sentence through to the end of its sense. American schools have yet to come close to British voice and speech training. The dirty little secret being that we do not really believe in it….
    Still, and I regret it, too many of the English have taken to affecting the worst of the subjective American manner. American films-- and television especially-- have taken their toll on the British theatre. From actors on both sides of the Atlantic, I understand fewer and fewer words  well-spoken. I blame all-absorbing television for this decay.
   But, I burden you-- as I burdened my boss at the British Drama League in Fitzroy Square, so long ago--  Frances MacKenzie, MA. Oxon, who remonstrated with me impatiently saying, "Gordon, you Americans are so analytical".

Monday, March 25, 2013

On Actors and Their Acting

      I am not now, nor have I ever been an actor-- not a real actor. I have worked at acting only as a teacher, seeking to know what it is that an actor does to enable me, a teacher-director, better to assist young actors on stage. I have wanted to understand what it is that actors do, strange as it is. I have stood at the door and knocked….
   To this end, I have worked, or touched upon, most every function of the theatre, the better to teach about it. I have not much distinguished myself in these efforts, but I was always deeply in earnest. I still stand at that door and knock. I want now, at this hour of my life, to tell someone how grateful I am for the privilege of having lived close to actors and their acting. I sense something holy about it.
   And so here follows the first of two ragged essays about it.


      I am not now, nor have I ever been an actor-- not a real actor. I have worked at acting only as a teacher, seeking to know what it is that an actor does to enable me, a teacher-director, better to assist young actors on stage. I have wanted to understand what it is that actors do, strange as it is. I have stood at the door and knocked….
   To this end, I have worked, or touched upon, most every function of the theatre, the better to teach about it. I have not much distinguished myself in these efforts, but I was always deeply in earnest. I still stand at that door and knock. I want now, at this hour of my life, to tell someone how grateful I am for the privilege of having lived close to actors and their acting. I sense something holy about it.
   And so here follows the first of two ragged essays about it.

Friday, March 1, 2013

An Obituary

     Obituaries are one of a newspaper’s last, best services in these unhappy times. The obituary page is a record of the sung and the unsung, the rich and the poor, old and young, the remembered and the forgotten. Some are long. some painfully short, the kind that make you wonder..., and those who get no obituary at all. It’s all good reading.
     The notices of Boulder’s newly dead are particularly compelling, a record of the many remarkable people who have come to Boulder, to do their extraordinary work and to live the fullness of life that, in its strange way, Boulder affords. Boulder is an excellent place to live, in spite of the envy and spleen in which some outsiders hold it.
     Some of us were actually born here; some have lived out long lives here in Boulder. Some of us can give testimony to the history of the town and how it became the strange and distinguished place that it is.

Friday, February 15, 2013


              to talk of many things… of cabbages and kings”
  We read in Luke 10, of the master instructing his inner circle, his staff, as it were, in how they should go about to teach-- and to heal. He insists that they ought not to go about ,from pillar to post, like mendicants, begging support for what they do, but attach themselves to a community, even to a household, and stay there, content with what they may receive. Then can they teach.  “…for the labourer is worthy of his hire.”
   There it is, verse 7, the center of the argument: that the workman is worthy, worthy in his employment. I think it works on three levels of meaning. The ambiguity is profound. First, I take it that the worker is worthy to be paid his bill for his work, of what he charges for his labor.
    The second sense, I believe, is a challenge to the worker to do work that is worthy in quality.
    And third, that the laborer must we worthy, as a person, to those who hire him.
  I believe these three meanings are lodged in those eight words, with emphasis on the first of them, the “for” meaning “because”. Because this work, this labor, is done in the world, the real world, where work is of enduring consequence.  

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Fashion Note

      My editor-in--chief feels that this essay may be frivolous and perhaps better junked. I respond that what draws one's attention cannot be altogether frivolous. It must mean something or we would not notice it. Human beings wear clothing: there has to be something in that somewhere…. So, you decide.                       

    Much is said of how superbly turned-out Ms. Obama was at the Inauguration. As kids we would have called her a “looker”, but been too young to understand the joie that informs her every dress and step.
   But it is not the great lady about whom I wish to write: it is of her husband,

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Down in the Mine

                                            Velma Biddle
                                                 Beloved colleague
                                                     1909 --2013

              Cans’t work i’ th’ earth so fast? O worthy Pioner?

   Back in the Golden Age, the shepherd Strephon lay on a sun-drenched bank of flowers and, with his oaten pipe under a cloudless sky, sang ditties of love to his beloved Phyliss. In that perfected pastoral time, all creation lay before him, an immediate treasure of experience, like gold and silver and precious gems, all round the earth’s exquisite, unchanging shore.