Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bacon, But Not Francis, Accommodations, and Story

 Because of the  persistent and oppressive nature of your illness, composition has been a fool's errand.  Not that composition at other, healthier times, is not a fool's errand.  

Even reading, another great pleasure, has let you know it is temporarily off limits, wanting,needing more of you than you have to contribute, leaving you to spend the day exploring the dim sequesters of the past.

To keep yourself occupied, what the musicians would call keeping the chops up, you may have invented a new literary format which,you'll call The Poetic Mystery, well aware it may be one of those things that sound exciting when it is happening but less worthy of mention comes the dawn, which in this case, will be the dawn of recovery.

Your other wanderings in memory provided you a pleasing time when, most mornings in the week, you were invited to breakfast with Dr. Arnold Kegel.  Yes, that Dr. Arnold Kegel.  A bright, chipper man with an almost rascally sense of presence, he gave you a great many things to consider, one of which you recount here as a way of cooking bacon on a triangle-shaped device that resembled the insides of a toaster.

Your plate filled with these slow cooked arms of bacon, you were urged to rediscover the joys of a hard-cooked egg rather than such food for dude ranch sorts as poached, soft-boiled, or scrambled.  

The times you were there, you two appeared to be alone, no servant or housekeeper.  To this day you wonder, did he in fact concoct, make, and bake his own bread?  And those magnificent pots of apple butter.  Could they have been whipped up in the interstices of his already extensive daily routing.

Oh, yes.  Part two, because there is a part two to the many remarkable things you learned from him.  Now, today, these many years later, you make a connection with that second principal.  

Standing before a group of second-year medical students, years ago, the good doctor suggested, "Most knowledgeable fellows like to think their equipment is what we'd call the organ of accommodation.  Gentlemen, and ladies, by the time you'll have worked through your ob-gyn stations, you'll have had all the information you need to decide what the organ of accommodation is."  

His eyes twinkled.  "I'm not saying your equipment isn't an organ, you understand--or that it does;t want to be accommodating, but I think you get my point."

Today, thank you for this insight,  Story is an organ.  It is an organ of accommodation.  It must have enough detail to provide a sense of reality in which two or more contrary forces, starkly real in their appearance, meet to debate the matter at the most heartfelt and emblematic nature.  It must accommodate social, psychological, and mythic implication and influence.

The true wonder is not that stories of this nature have been written at all, but continue to be written, continue to rouse themselves in the imagination of one of the few pure art forms and there are neither political, gender, or social boundaries.  Did you say Katherine Mansfield had it? Did you say Deborah Eisenberg?  Did you say John O'Hara and John Cheever?

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