A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004 :::
Ever noticed how many stories there are about guys who get killed over, say, a parking space? This teacher can tell the experienced priests in his classes when he asks what constitute the biggest concerns they hear about in the confessional--small things or big? The idealistic ones invariably say "big;" the experienced, "small."

That reality of life comes to mind every time that A Mind That Suits arrives at the Catholic University of America in the morning and discovers that the escalator--perhaps 70 feet in length--is not working. The problem is that the top of the escalator issues onto a path that takes you up a deceptively slight incline. When you walk up the stairs, you want a break, and what you get is more climbing. Without the charm of the hilltop towns of Central Italy.

And now we are in for several weeks of what hilltop charms CUA might offer, as the motor of the escalator cracked yesterday. Images of flying wheels and jabbing rods come to mind, but what really happened was that one huge amount of motor oil cascaded down the bed of the escalator, necessitating the removal of the steps, the cleaning of the bed, and the installation of a new motor. The cleaning must have been a little scary: one wrong step, and a workman could go sliding down a gauntlet of jutting fixtures. That has been accomplished without incident, and repair work has commenced. A Mind That Suits must allow an extra few minutes when he sets off, lest a train breakdown and a crowded staircase make him late for class.

A Mind That Suits, as all should know, has been a major fan of The Weekly Standard since its inception, and a subscriber for most of its nine years. And it is a never ending source of frustration that he could walk out of his post office and hurl a loose brick at William Kristol--not that he would want to--and yet TWS itself appears on an irregular and untimely basis in his mailbox. The last issue he received has a lead editorial entitled, "Aristide Must Go." Indeed, he did must go, and he done went, and this writer personally hopes he lives for years with the kind of fear that he induced among his poor countrymen. But TWS should come a little more promptlly.

On a happy note, the estimable Roger Kimball of the New Criterion sent me a most friendly and gracious reply to my letter about his assessment of the late Sir Karl Popper. Readers will remember that this writer recently sent a letter to the Times Literary Supplement concerning a review written by Mr. Kimball. The TLS was kind enough to say that they were not running it--kind in the sense of being prompt and informative--so it got posted here on A Mind That Suits and sent along to Mr. Kimball. (See March 4.)

A Mind That Suits tried to explain as nicely as he could that the only other person whom he had heard say what Mr. Kimball said was a drooling idiot and that did not square with Mr. Kimball's distinguished service in defense of many worthy things. Mr. Kimball has now replied that he had a very good reason for saying what he said, and that, by inference, this writer was talking through his hat, only he said so very, verypolitely.

Both Mr. Kimball and A Mind That Suits share a passion for P.G. Wodehouse, it must be noted.

Mr. Kimball recommended an Austrian philosopher whom this writer had never heard of, David Stove--that would be "STOH--vuh" in German--who apparently demolished Sir Karl to Mr. Kimball's satisfaction. A Mind That Suits remains sceptical--that's a joke--but went over to the library, where he, alas, found only Mr. Stove's more technical writings, full of "P(T1/T2)= P(m/n)" and other enlightening statements. Mr. Kimball has a high estimation of Herr Dr. Stove's writing ability, but in all honesty Mr. Kimball was referring to other books. This stuff was like something Sir Karl would have written after that meeting with Ludwig Wittgenstein--if he had wanted to say it with variables.

[In the real meeting, of course, Herr Dr. Wittgenstein said it with a firepoker. The TLS ran an item recently about how Dr. Wittgenstein got thrown out of a boarding house for complaining too much about the marmelade, and being generally quite difficult. Sir Karl used to chase students out of class if they did not accept his answer to a question. A Mind That Suits has a hunch that on that fateful night, the other assembled Oxford philosophers had a small flutter on who would blow first, much as the habitues of Cheers did on whether Sam and Diane would actually get married. It was probably someone with money on Ludwig who suggested that playing with the fire would calm his nerves. You know, planting the seed.]

In any case, Mr. Kimball is one of those fellows who does a lot, and does it all quite well, and so it was very nice of him to take the time to write back. A Mind That Suits will order those other books and see what they have to say.

Eddie over at One Good Turn might well be saying, "You go, Roger Kimball," but we will see what he says about that.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 7:16 PM



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What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

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