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Monday, August 19, 2013

TILT! by John von Daler

                I saw a program about the #Washington Monument the other day. Evidently the first part of the construction began to tilt when they stopped work on it during the Civil War. The engineers who finished building it had to strengthen the foundation and straighten the whole thing up.

                I am not one to let an opportunity for a metaphor like that slip through my fingers, if you will pardon my slightly cumbersome analogy. The tipsy Washington monument is just the picture I need to describe the education I received first in public schools and afterwards at #Princeton. It was almost as if the foundation I went to college with, while fairly solid, lacked a few good stones to support all the knowledge and understanding I piled on during those four years.
                This slightly lopsided accumulation of basics and extensions served me fairly well throughout my adult life until I started reading Gabrial Garcia #Marquez's books, expecially "One Hundred Years of Solitude", "Love in the Time of the Cholera" and his late short stories. These books stopped my intellectual life in its tracks. (Sorry. This seems to be a day where my metaphors fly off the handle without warning. Whoops, sorry again.)
                I decided that there really was no need to read more fiction. Even in translation, Garcia Marquez's books seemed to me to be the best tales anyone ever could write. I would never be able to read anything better. So I put fiction aside and started to study history, under my own tutelage, as it were. Now this brings me back to that monument. I had to start putting levers and wedges in the construction that already was there, up in my head, as it were.
                The last ten years or so I've been reading about European history, Byzantheum, the Crusades, Charlemagne, Prussia, Scandinavian history and a lot more. I can feel the old monument groaning its way into an upright position, but with my old, porous, fiction-loving brain as a foundation, it's not going to happen over night. So watch out for falling metaphors. This site is under construction.
                And if you want to keep reading fiction, stay away from Marquez.

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