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Thursday, 24 June 2010

Pops' Tour


File:Knight's tour anim 2.gif

To cast beyond ourselves in our opinions, admits Pops, employing the royal first person plural once again, the better to avoid the onus, Pops wears the onus uneasily, like a too tight collar, is the prime vice of age, which has so many vices. This is not the remark of a weak man. The principal vice of age is too much suspicion. Pops has been around the block. Pops has touched all the bases. He has called at every port. He has chafed under the onus. The wiles of life are not strangers to Pops. They have been much with him. They have tarried together. They have become accustomed to one another. Those long accustomed to the wiles of life cast commonly beyond themselves, let their cunning go further than reason can attend it. Pops is aware of this tendency to suspiciousness on the part of those who have too long tarried. Knowledge of this kind it would have been impossible for him to avoid. Equally impossible for him to steadily remember. Memory now an intermittent affair, here today, gone tomorrow, for Pops. In the gaps there is the forgetting and with the forgetting comes the casting beyond. This is always the fault of a little mind, made artful by long commerce with the world. A little mind is always playing catchup. A little mind is always losing things. A little mind is always developing systems of retrieval. One has observed this with squirrels and buried nuts. One presumes the squirrels spend much time developing systems of finding and then again losing and then again finding the nuts, and that the brain activity is what keeps them mentally agile. Relatively. How would one know really. Do they divide their territory up into grids perhaps, and then search each grid? Moving a small way, turning a bit, scratching, digging, pausing, then moving again. Over time they will have touched upon each grid section in the field which makes up the territory. What the squirrels have over Pops is their seeming ability to remember they have searched a certain section, so that they will not return to waste time in the folly of searching it again. Activity like everything else can be overdone.

File:Knight's tour anim.gif

An open Knight's tour in chess, animated examples (with visited squares shaded and unshaded): images by Ilmari Karonen, 2010 (based on Knight's tour image by Gdr)


Curtis Roberts said...

What says it all for me (this morning) is "their seeming ability". Activity can indeed be overdone. The television that is currently on in the background while I catch up on some correspondence provides incontrovertible proof. I woke up this morning feeling much, much better than I did when I went to sleep last night and now I'm deep into misanthrope territory. Clearly it's time to take a walk. The coffee's delicious, though.

Curtis Faville said...


This reminds me a little of your Coach House book.

The yellow cover.

Was that a Brainard design?

No one remembers it--almost no one ever saw it.

Who wrote the "Pops" paragraph?

Aram always referred to his dad as "Pop"--

My coffee this morning is especially good--I put a double dose of Peet's Garuda in the French Press, liberally dosed with Stornetta's heavy cream. Yum.

TC said...

I am awash, on this gloomy morning on Earth after a long night spent pathetically failing to repair a broken kitchen overhead light fixture, in the Joy of Curtis.

Curtis R, yes, it's their seeming ability to remember that makes me envious. I realize at the same time that their seeming could be all show, their display of enthusiasm in a given section merely evidence of a short memory. But in my abject dereliction of attention I see their appearance of attention as having the virtues of boldness and confidence, at least.

Curtis F, thanks for the (speaking of) memories. Yes, that was a Joe Brainard design. Joe did not only the wonderful covers for that book but multiple series of great interior drawings. Those were the days; I gaze upon my sole copy now in silent awe (wobbling only slightly, still clutching the fruitless pliers).

But that was then and this is now, where "Pops" is actually what I was called on Tuesday night by a pleasant black gay masseur I have known for some years in passing. Took a moment to figure out who he was addressing. But no more than a moment, it must be admitted. (All this seems to be happening much too fast, lately; but I suppose that's a common lament.)

At any rate that salutation gave pause and the pause then produced the Tour; just before the light fixture broke, latest of the systems to fail in the general collapse comedy.

I do remember Aram calling his dad Pop. Actually, once, back in the period when he'd just been screentested for the Hoffman role in The Graduate (family connection there, through his mother), he and I went to visit Pop at Pop's hotel in London. (I got the impression Pop was made a bit anxious by the encroachments of postmodernism but also that he must have known this, too, would pass.)

And speaking of the occasional drop of watered down Eighteenth Century coffee house tone in the piece, aged all these centuries, Curtis -- I want your coffee!

TC said...

(And that last bit goes for both of you. Though instead I'll settle for some Safeway Superglued Instant Crystals, I believe.)

Curtis Roberts said...

We have a squirrel in the attic now who's tapping out what Jane describes as Morse Code in the attic above her bed. I love squirrels, but I hope he/she leaves soon on his/her own volition. I've hired "humane" squirrel trappers before (they hang out at your house for days armed with jars of peanut butter), but am hoping for a little financial and mood relief in these straitened times. But I love squirrels and respect squirrels and am crazy about Joe Brainard's work. In the mid-1970s, when I was still a student I bought a very small Brainard called No Soap from his Fischbach Gallery (as I recall) exhibition in NYC where all works were priced at $25.00 for my parents for Christmas. I chose it carefully then, own and treasure it now, and wish I'd asked someone to lend me more money so that I could have purchased other pieces. It was a very fine show.

TC said...


Squirrel discouragement is not easy for a kind soul.

Joe was proverbially generous with his work. After one show I recall, he gave away the unsold work to friends. In fact that was more of less his practice, in those early years.

In a spectacular crash on the Ohio Turnpike some of the works Joe had given me were badly damaged. We have a few small ones still, however.