Showing posts with label Foster. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Foster. Show all posts

Tuesday, 4 February 2020


“Well, you know, sometimes when you hate, you’re in Love, Flora.

If you love someone, you want to kill them.”

Peter Quint 

Every man has a double anima. He comes factory equipped — it is absolutely ingrained— with two visions of woman. How he manages this dilemma says a great deal about his integrity. The first is the heavenly vision, a Beatrice-like figure who leaves him speechless at the world that she opens for him. Beatrice appears early in a man’s life, and all he can do is store her away until he is strong enough to reencounter her. The other vision is an earthy woman who is lots of fun, sexually attractive, and perfect for courtship. She has all the human attributes, as well as the dark aspects —a dragon, a bitch, a whore. Every man is torn between the light and dark expectations of woman. 

And every woman has experienced man vacillating between these visions.

The woman’s animus also comes doublea knight on a white horse and a barbarian. Her soul guide, usually a male figure, will guide her in much the same manner as Beatrice guides Dante. If you’re homosexual, the same thing happens, but the labels are reversed. We all follow the same path.

Beatrice, the heavenly anima figure, is the vision of all that is tender and beautiful. If you are personally unlucky, like Dante— although lucky in an impersonal way— the person who awakens Beatrice in your life will vanish or even die, separating herself from you. Beatrice can live within you only in subtle form. If you marry Beatrice, your marriage will drift off, because it is more a kind of worship than a marriage; or you will turn your Beatrice into the earthy anima image and then wonder what happened to the goddess you married. Probably, like Dante, you will marry an earthy woman who will bear children and help manage your household. You are companions, and  you talk and fight and make love and go through the vicissitudes of life together. But she is not Beatrice.

At age forty-five or fifty, when you have raised your children and become accomplished in your work, suddenly you fall into a hole. The more sensitive and intelligent you are, the deeper the hole might be. A guide in the form of Virgil may come and list all the things in your life that have gone wrong. These are the nine levels of Hell. Your guide, your intelligence, will dis-illusion you. “ Abandon hope, all ye who enter here” is a classical beginning to what Jung called the “ individuation process,” or the spiritualization of a man. If I could rewrite that sign, it would say, “Give up all expectations and presently held concepts.”

The job of your intelligence is to catalog Hell for you, to tell you all the things that don’t work. If your integrity is sufficient, if you go forward, Beatrice will come in the form of a radiant vision of hope and the feminine to take you the rest of the way and gently deposit you in Heaven. This will be one of the most profound experiences of your life.

Modern men and women have forgotten how to take this journey. Even with the best of motives— trying to find that vision of life that will nourish us and give meaning to the progression of our days on earth—we do crazy things. We let our marriage go to pieces and marry someone else, hoping to find the visionary feminine in her. We would do well to learn from Dante. Most important is to remember that Virgil, the one who helps us discern what is wrong, and Beatrice, the heavenly guide, are both interior figures and that this is an interior journey. It has its exterior dimension. If you are an artist, a poet, a healer, a teacher, or a mystic, you will produce outer, tangible results of your journey. But the journey is essentially inner. This is the most important thing to learn.

You will never find a Beatrice to marry, because she is in your imagination, your art, and your prayers. When you seek her in an interior way, she will come in an instant. But you must be humble enough to ask your feminine side for these rare qualities of tenderness and beauty, receptivity and love. Without doing so, it can be difficult to become truly whole. Even if you experience her as a real woman who has entered your life, the grace that has descended upon you is your inner awakening, catalyzed by this wonderful experience. 

It is not the other. It is in you.”


Excerpt from: "Inner Gold: Understanding Psychological Projection" by Arnie Kotler.

“ I am a democrat (1) because I believe in the Fall of Man. 

I think most people are democrats for the opposite reason. 

A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in Democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that everyone deserved a share in the government. 

The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they're NOT TRUE. 

Whenever their weakness is exposed, the people who prefer tyranny make capital out of the exposure. 

I find that they're not true without looking further than myself. 

I don't deserve a share in governing a hen-roost, much less a nation. 

Nor do most people — all the people who believe advertisements, and think in catchwords and spread rumors. 

The real reason for Democracy is just the reverse. 

Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. 

Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. 

But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.

This introduces a view of equality rather different from that in which we have been trained. I do not think that equality is one of those things (like wisdom or happiness) which are good simply in themselves and for their own sakes. I think it is in the same class as medicine, which is good because we are ill, or clothes which are good because we are no longer innocent. I don't think the old authority in kings, priests, husbands, or fathers, and the old obedience in subjects, laymen, wives, and sons, was in itself a degrading or evil thing at all. I think it was intrinsically as good and beautiful as the nakedness of Adam and Eve. It was rightly taken away because men became bad and abused it. To attempt to restore it now would be the same error as that of the Nudists. Legal and economic equality are absolutely necessary remedies for the Fall, and protection against cruelty.

But medicine is not good. There is no spiritual sustenance in flat equality. It is a dim recognition of this fact which makes much of our political propaganda sound so thin. We are trying to be enraptured by something which is merely the negative condition of the good life. That is why the imagination of people is so easily captured by appeals to the craving for inequality, whether in a romantic form of films about loyal courtiers or in the brutal form of Nazi ideology. The tempter always works on some real weakness in our own system of values -- offers food to some need which we have starved.

When equality is treated not as a medicine or a safety-gadget, but as an ideal, we begin to breed that stunted and envious sort of mind which hates all superiority. That mind is the special disease of democracy, as cruelty and servility are the special diseases of privileged societies. It will kill us all if it grows unchecked. The man who cannot conceive a joyful and loyal obedience on the one hand, nor an unembarrassed and noble acceptance of that obedience on the other - the man who has never even wanted to kneel or to bow - is a prosaic barbarian. But it would be wicked folly to restore these old inequalities on the legal or external plane. Their proper place is elsewhere.

We must wear clothes since the Fall. Yes, but inside, under what Milton called "these troublesome disguises" (2). We want the naked body, that is, the real body, to be alive. We want it, on proper occasions, to appear -- in the marriage-chamber, in the public privacy of a men's bathing-place, and (of course) when any medical or other emergency demands. In the same way, under the necessary outer covering of legal equality, the whole hierarchical dance and harmony of our deep and joyously accepted spiritual inequalities should be alive. It is there, of course, in our life as Christians -- there, as laymen, we can obey – all the more because the priest has no authority over us on the political level. It is there in our relation to parents and teachers – all the more because it is now a willed and wholly spiritual reverence. It should be there also in marriage.

This last point needs a little plain speaking. Men have so horribly abused their power over women in the past that to wives, of all people, equality is in danger of appearing as an ideal. But Mrs. Naomi Mitchison has laid her finger on the real point. Have as much equality as you please – the more the better – in our marriage laws, but at some level consent to inequality, nay, delight in inequality, is an erotic necessity. Mrs. Mitchison speaks of women so fostered on a defiant idea of equality that the mere sensation of the male embrace rouses an undercurrent of resentment. Marriages are thus shipwrecked (3). This is the tragi-comedy of the modem woman -- taught by Freud to consider the act of love the most important thing in life, and then inhibited by feminism from that internal surrender which alone can make it a complete emotional success. Merely for the sake of her own erotic pleasure, to go no further, some degree of obedience and humility seems to be (normally) necessary on the woman's part.

The error here has been to assimilate all forms of affection to that special form we call friendship. It indeed does imply equality. But it is quite different from the various loves within the same household. Friends are not primarily absorbed in each other. It is when we are doing things together that friendship springs up – painting, sailing ships, praying, philosophizing, fighting shoulder to shoulder. Friends look in the same direction. Lovers look at each other -- that is, in opposite directions. To transfer bodily all that belongs to one relationship into the other is blundering.

We Britons should rejoice that we have contrived to reach much legal democracy (we still need more of the economic) without losing our ceremonial Monarchy. For there, right in the midst of our lives, is that which satisfies the craving for inequality, and acts as a permanent reminder that medicine is not food. Hence a man's reaction to Monarchy is a kind of test. Monarchy can easily be "debunked", but watch the faces, mark well the accents of the debunkers. These are the men whose taproot in Eden has been cut -- whom no rumor of the polyphony, the dance, can reach – men to whom pebbles laid in a row are more beautiful than an arch. Yet even if they desire mere equality they cannot reach it. Where men are forbidden to honor a king they honor millionaires, athletes, or film-stars instead -- even famous prostitutes or gangsters. For spiritual nature, like bodily nature, will be served -- deny it food and it will gobble poison.

That is why this whole question is of practical importance. Every intrusion of the spirit that says, "I'm as good as you" into our personal and spiritual life is to be resisted just as jealously as every intrusion of bureaucracy or privilege into our politics. Hierarchy within can alone preserve egalitarianism without. Romantic attacks on democracy will come again. We shall never be safe unless we already understand in our hearts all that the anti-democrats can say, and have provided for it better than they. Human nature will not permanently endure flat equality if it is extended from its proper political field into the more real, more concrete fields within. Let us wear equality; but let us undress every night.”

(1) C.S. Lewis lived and wrote in England. Hence, his reference to "being a Democrat" had nothing to do with our (USA) "Democratic Party". 
(2) John Milton, Paradise Lost (1667), Book IV, line 740. 18 
(3) Naomi Mitchison, The Home and a Changing Civilization (London, 1934), Chapter I, pp. 49-50.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

The Foolish and The Ridiculous Demand Respect – And They are Insisting on Their Rights


As a culture we have entered an area which is now mined with impossibility problems. From some of the most famous women on the planet we have heard the demand that women have the right to be sexy without being sexualized. Some of the most prominent cultural figures in the world have shown us that to oppose racism we must become a bit racist. Now a whole set of similar impossibilities are being demanded in an equally non-conciliatory manner. 

There was a fine example on the BBC’s This Week in October 2017 when an artist and writer going by the mononym ‘Scottee’ appeared on the programme to discuss a short political film he had made. As a self-described ‘big fat queer fem’ he complained that he was a ‘victim of masculinity in a way because of the aggressions I put up with on a day-to-day basis’. Although he had no answers to this problem, he insisted that ‘queer, trans, non-binary people’ shouldn’t have to be the ones who have to disable “toxic masculinity”’. It has to come from within, he argued. Men ‘have got to acknowledge their privilege, and I want them to hand over power, and also I want them to hand over some platform. I’m really up for like trying a matriarchy. We’ve done patriarchy for a long time. Hasn’t really worked.’
Avoiding the Nuclear Presumption of ‘hasn’t really worked’ for a moment, there was one even larger fact staring any viewer in the face. 
This was that one of the main complaints that this flamboyantly dressed self-declared ‘big fat queer fem’ had made about the society he lived in was that he found himself so often ridiculed.
So here is another paradoxical, impossible demand. 
A person who chooses to be ridiculous without being ridiculed.
Other impossible demands can be found everywhere  – such as the one that was on display at Evergreen State College and Yale University and was highlighted by Mark Lilla on the panel at Rutgers (where the audience member insisted to Kmele Foster that he ‘didn’t need no facts’). 
On that occasion Lilla provided an insight into one of the other central conundrums of our time. He said, ‘You cannot tell people simultaneously “You must understand me” and “You cannot understand me”.’ 
Evidently a whole lot of people can make those demands simultaneously. But they shouldn’t, and if they do then they should realize that their contradictory demands cannot be granted. 

Then of course there is the question of how the hierarchy of oppression is meant to be ordered, prioritized and then sorted out. 

Laith Ashley is one of the most prominent transgender models in the world today. The female-to-male transsexual has received prominent coverage and done prestigious fashion shoots for leading brands and magazines. In a 2016 television interview he was asked by Channel 4’s Cathy Newman if in the two years he had been transitioning from a woman to a man he had encountered any discrimination. Ashley said that in fact he had not, but then alleviated his interviewer’s disappointment by adding that transgender activists and others he knew from transgender rights movements had ‘told’ him that he had in fact gained some male privilege. 

As he said, breaking it down for the viewers, ‘I have gained some male privilege. And although I am a person of colour I am fair skinned and I adhere to society’s standard of aesthetic beauty in a sense. And for that reason I have not necessarily faced much discrimination.’
So he had taken a couple of steps further into the hierarchy by becoming a man, had taken a couple of steps back by being a person of colour, but a step forward by being a light-skinned person of colour. And then he had hit the negative of being attractive. 
How can anyone work out where they are meant to be in the oppressor/oppressed stakes when they have so many competing privileges in their biography? 
No wonder Ashley looked concerned and self-effacing when going through this list. This is enough constant self-analysis to knock anybody’s confidence. But a version of that impossible self-analysis is being suggested for many people today, when in fact there is no way of knowing how to perform this task fairly on another person let alone on yourself. What is the point of an exercise that CANNOT be Done? 
And where to next? One of the pleasures in recent years has been watching people who think they are being a good liberal boundary keeper discover that one of their feet has nicked one of the tripwires. One Saturday evening in 2018 Vox’s David Roberts was spending his time happily auditioning for the committee for public virtue on Twitter. In one tweet he wrote, ‘Sometimes I think about America’s sedentary, heart-diseased, fast-food gobbling, car-addicted suburbanites, sitting watching TV in their suburban castles, casually passing judgement on refugees who have walked 1000s of miles to escape oppression, and . . . well, it makes me mad.’ As he sent it off he must have thought ‘Sounds good. Attack Americans, defend migrants, what could go wrong?’ A more cautious member of the new media might have wondered whether it was wise to sound quite so disdainful of people who live in the suburbs. But in fact it was not Roberts’s suburbo-phobia that caused him to spend the rest of his Saturday evening frantically trying to save his career in dozens of remedy tweets. The thing that caused an instant backlash from the very crowd he was hoping to impress was that he had been ‘fat-shaming’ and this was ‘problematic’. 
By his 17th tweet attempting to mop up his crime Roberts was reduced to begging: ‘Fat-shaming is real, it’s everywhere, it’s unjust & unkind, and I want no part of it.’ Soon he was apologizing sincerely for only being ‘half woke’, and blaming his upbringing.
The potential for claims of offence, allegations of shaming and new positions in the grievance hierarchy based on ever-evolving criteria could go on indefinitely. But how would they be arranged? Is a fat white person equal to a skinny person of colour? Or are there different scales of oppression which everyone should know even if no one has explained the rules because the rules are made not by rational people but by mob stampedes. 
Perhaps rather than derange ourselves by working out a puzzle that cannot be solved, we should instead try to find ways out of This Impossible Maze.

Where's your head at
Where's your head at (Where your head at)
Where's your head at (Where your head at)
Drozze it
Okay are you ready, I'm ready
Don't let the walls cave in on you
We can live on, live on without you
Don't let the walls cave in on you
We can live on, live on without you
Don't let the walls cave in on you
You get what you give that much is true
Don't let the walls cave in on you
You turn the world away from you
Where's your head at (Where your head at)
Where's your head at (Where your head at)
Wasn't that?Okay are you ready, I'm ready
You have now found yourself trapped in the incomprehensible maze
Where's your head at, you'll know how to be
Where's your head at, you don't make it easy on yourself
Where's your head at, what you give is what you get, is what you get
Where's your head at (Where's your head at)
Where's your head at (Where's your head at (Okay are you ready, I'm ready)
Don't let the walls cave in on you
We can live on, live on without you
Don't let the walls cave in on you
We can live on, live on without you
Don't let the walls cave in on you
We can live on, live on without you
Don't let the walls cave in on you
We can live on, live on without you
Where's your head at, Where's your head at
We can live on, live on without you
We can live on, live on without you
We can live on, live on without you
We can live on, live on without you

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

The Warriorship of Bill Potts

“Warriorship is a basic sense of unshakeability. 
It’s a sense of immovability and self-existing dignity rather than that you are trying to fight with something else.” 

[Bill's house, Bristol]

You know you're my foster mum?
He's like my foster tutor.

Am I going to have to break every bone in his body?

It's not like that.

You need to keep your eye on Men.

BILL: (sotto)
Men aren't where I keep my eye, actually....

I was a hidden treasure, 
and I wished to be known, 
so I created a creation (mankind), 
then made Myself known to them, 
and they recognised Me.


They'll attack on both sides. I'll take the back, yeah?

Yeah. This is it, I'm afraid.
So, if there's anything we ought to be saying?

I can't think of anything. 
Can you?

(thinks) No.

But, hey er, you know how I'm usually all about women and, 
and kind of people my own age.

Glad you knew that.

(She leaves.)

Without Hope. 
Without Witness. 
Without Reward.
(Alit enters.)
Is that it?
(Alit puts down something covered in a rough cloth.)
I really wouldn't harm you, you know.
I know.
(But she still backs away as Bill steps forward and picks it up, then uncovers it and turns it over. It is a mirror, and her reflection reveals that she is really still Cyber-Bill.)
That is not me.
ALIT: I'm sorry.
CYBER-BILL: I am Bill Potts.
ALIT: I'm sorry! I'm sorry!
(She runs away and into the Doctor.)
CYBER-BILL: I am Bill Potts!
DOCTOR: Hey, hey, hey, hey!
(Cyber-Bill puts down the mirror.)
DOCTOR: Hello, Bill Potts.
CYBER-BILL: Doc-tor.
ALIT: I'm sorry. I gave her a mirror.
DOCTOR: Oh no, don't be sorry. You were being kind. Nothing wrong with kind. Jelly baby?
ALIT: Thank you.
DOCTOR: You're welcome.
ALIT: Bye.
DOCTOR: Toodle-oo.
(Alit leaves and closes the barn door behind her. We see Bill as her human self again. The Doctor has a bit of a limp.)
BILL: What was that, in the mirror?
DOCTOR: Er, a Cyberman.
BILL: What's a Cyberman?
DOCTOR: A technologically augmented human being, designed to survive in a hostile environment. Perfectly sound idea. Unfortunately all they want to do is to turn everyone else into Cybermen too. They go viral.
BILL: Why?
DOCTOR: They consider themselves to be an improvement, an upgrade.
BILL: No. Why do I see a Cyberman in the mirror?
(Long pause.)
DOCTOR: What do you remember?
BILL: There's quite a lot, you know? I was down there for ten years.
DOCTOR: And then one day, they took you to the Conversion Theatre. Do you remember that?
BILL: No. Bits of it. You turned up.
DOCTOR: Do you remember what they did to you?
BILL: Nothing. Look at me, I'm fine. I'm fine!
(But as she touches her forehead, she sees a Cyber-hand.)
DOCTOR: You are so strong. You're amazing. Your mind has rebelled against the programming. It's built a wall around itself. A castle made of you, and you are standing on the battlements, saying no. No, not me.
BILL: What are you talking about?
DOCTOR: All that time, living under the Monks, you learned to hang on to yourself.
BILL: But I'm, I'm fine. Look at me!
DOCTOR: Bill, what you see is not you. Your mind is acting like a perception filter. You still see yourself as you used to be.
BILL: Used to be?
DOCTOR: It won't last forever.
BILL: What do you mean, used to be?
(She advances, he retreats. Then she sees her shadow cast on the wall.)
DOCTOR: Bill, I'm sorry, but you can't be angry any more. A temper is a luxury you can no longer
BILL: Why can't I? Why can't I be angry?
DOCTOR: Bill, please!
CYBER-BILL: You left me alone for ten
BILL: Years! Don't tell me I can't be angry!
(Her helmet weapon blasts the barn door to firewood. The children scream.)
REXHILL [OC]: Get back! You all right?
DOCTOR: Because of that. That's why. Because you're a Cyberman.
NARDOLE: Right. Everyone, back to work. Nothing to see here. Somebody broke the barn, no biggie. Come on, defences don't build themselves.
(Bill comes outside.)
DOCTOR: It's okay. They're just frightened.
BILL: People are always going to be afraid of me, aren't they? Aren't they?
(He wipes a tear from her Cyber-face.)
BILL: What is that, engine oil?
DOCTOR: No. It's an actual tear. But it shouldn't be.
MASTER: Doctor. Right, while you've been here chatting up Robo-Mop, me and me have been busy. We've found it. (Razor) Oh, hello, my dear. My God, you were so boring for all those years. But it was worth every day of it, for this.
DOCTOR: Bill, don't let him upset you.
MASTER: Though, didn't you used to be a woman? I'm going to be a woman, fairly soon. Any tips? Or, maybe, I dunno, old bras?
CYBER-BILL: I am not upset.
MASTER: Oh. Well, doesn't that take all the fun out of cruelty. Might as well rile a fridge. Come on, this way.
(But inside, Bill is crying.)
BILL: Why are there so many children in that house?
DOCTOR: Small community, several hundred at most. So they keep the children together for their protection.
(He indicates the Cyber-scarecrows.)
DOCTOR: Those things, they make it up here sometimes. They try to take the children.
(He gasps and leans against a tree. Regeneration energy glows briefly in one hand.)
You all right?
Yes, fine.
(He breaks off a dead branch to use as a walking aid.)
What was that?
They target the children because conversion is easier with a younger donor. 
The brains are fresher, and because the bodies are smaller, there's less to er -
Less to what?
MASTER: Less to throw away.
BILL: You said. I remember, you said you could fix this. That you could get me back. Did you say that?
DOCTOR: I did say that, yes.
BILL: Were you lying?
BILL: Were you right?
DOCTOR: No. Bill.
BILL: We're not going to get out of this one, are we.
DOCTOR: Well, I don't know. There are always possibilities.
(Thank you, Mister Spock.)
BILL: No. I can feel it. In my head, the programming. The Cybermen are taking me over, piece by piece. It's like I'm hanging on in a hurricane, and I can't hang on forever.
DOCTOR: Bill, look, whatever it takes
BILL: No, I want you to know, as my friend, I don't want to live if I can't be me anymore. Do you understand?
BILL: And that's not possible, is it?
DOCTOR: Well, I'll tell you what else isn't possible. A Cyberman crying. Where there's tears, there's hope. Come on.

Monday, 5 August 2019

Shipping Out — On The (nearly lethal) comforts of a luxury cruise - by David Foster Wallace

Captain's log, Pleasure Cruiser Morbillo.

We were sailing south-southwest on course for Havana when we realised something was amiss.

What's that on the horizon? 
But that's impossible.

It appears a vast expanse of seabed has risen beneath us in the night.

Strange people in long robes and diving helmets have come aboard the ship and are mingling happily with the passengers, who think that we have organised this for their amusement.

The High Priest has just won the Quoits contest.

Friday, 2 August 2019


" In considering the anxiety that consumes so much of human experience, [Petrarch] writes, “And what is the cause hereof, but only our own lightness & daintiness: for we seem to be good for nothing else, but to be tossed hither & thither like a Tennise bal, being creatures of very short life, of infinite carefulness, & yet ignorant unto what shore to sail with our ship.”

A metaphor for human existence, then, and for fate: “We are merely the stars’ tennis-balls,” in John Webster’s “Duchess of Malfi,” “struck and banded / Which way please them.” That is one tradition. In another, tennis becomes a symbol of frivolity, of a different kind of “lightness.” Grown men playing with balls. The history of the game’s being used that way is twined up with an anecdote from the reign of Henry V, the powerful young king who had once been Shakespeare’s reckless Prince Hal. According to one early chronicler, “The Dauphin, thinking King Henry to be given to such plays and light follies . . . sent to him a tun of tennis-balls.” King Henry’s imagined reply at the battle of Agincourt was rendered into verse, probably by the poet-monk John Lydgate, around 1536:

Some hard tennis balls I have hither brought

Of marble and iron made full round.

I swear, by Jesu that me dear bought,

They shall beat the walls to the ground.

That story flowers into a couplet of Shakespeare’s “Henry V,” circa 1599. The package from the Dauphin arrives. Henry’s uncle, the Duke of Exeter, takes it. “What treasure, uncle?” the king asks. “Tennis-balls, my liege,” Exeter answers. “And we understand him well,” Henry says (a line meant to echo an earlier one, said under very different circumstances, Hal’s equally famous “I know you all and will awhile uphold”):

How he comes o’er us with our wilder days

Not measuring what use we made of them.

A more eccentric instance of tennis-as-metaphor pops up in Shakespeare’s “Pericles,” where the tennis court is compared with the ocean. It occurs in the part of the play that scholars now believe was written by a tavern-keeper named George Wilkins. Pericles has just been tossed half dead onto the Greek shore and is discovered by three fishermen. He says,

A man whom both the waters and the wind,

In that vast tennis-court, hath made the ball

For them to play upon, entreats you pity him.

These lines may cause some modern readers to recall David Foster Wallace’s “Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley,” an essay about learning to play the game in the central Midwest, where extreme winds are an almost constant factor, but where Wallace succeeded, he tells us, in part because of a “weird robotic detachment” from the “unfairnesses of wind and weather.”

David Foster Wallace wrote about tennis because life gave it to him—he had played the game well at the junior level—and because he was a writer who in his own way made use of wilder days, turning relentlessly in his work to the stuff of his own experience. But the fact of the game in his biography came before any thought of its use as material. At least I assume that’s the case. It can be amazing how early in life some writers figure out what they are and start to see their lives as stories that can be controlled. It is perhaps not far-fetched to imagine Wallace’s noticing early on that tennis is a good sport for literary types and purposes. It draws the obsessive and brooding. It is perhaps the most isolating of games. Even boxers have a corner, but in professional tennis it is a rules violation for your coach to communicate with you beyond polite encouragement, and spectators are asked to keep silent while you play. Your opponent is far away, or, if near, is indifferently hostile. It may be as close as we come to physical chess, or a kind of chess in which the mind and body are at one in attacking essentially mathematical problems. So, a good game not just for writers but for philosophers, too. The perfect game for Wallace.

He wrote about it in fiction, essays, journalism, and reviews; it may be his most consistent theme at the surface level. Wallace himself drew attention, consciously or not, to both his love for the game and its relevance to how he saw the world. He knew something, too, about the contemporary literature of the sport. The close attention to both physics and physical detail that energizes the opening of his 1996 Esquire_ piece on a then-young Michael Joyce (a promising power baseliner who became a sought-after coach and helped Maria Sharapova win two of her Grand Slam titles) echoes clearly the first lines of John McPhee’s “Levels of the Game” _(one of the few tennis books I can think of that give as much pleasure as the one you’re holding): “Arthur Ashe, his feet apart, his knees slightly bent, lifts a tennis ball into the air. The toss is high and forward. If the ball were allowed to drop, it would, in Ashe’s words, ‘make a parabola.’ ”

For me, the cumulative effect of Wallace’s tennis-themed nonfiction is a bit like being presented with a mirror, one of those segmented mirrors they build and position in space, only this one is pointed at a writer’s mind. The game he writes about is one that, like language, emphasizes the closed system, makes a fetish of it (“Out!”). He seems both to exult and to be trapped in its rules, its cruelties. He loves the game but yearns to transcend it. As always in Wallace’s writing, Wittgenstein is the philosopher who most haunts the approach, the Wittgenstein who told us that reality is inseparable from language (“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world”), and that language is inseparable from game (both being at root “part of an activity, a form of life”).

From such a description a reader might conclude that the writer under discussion was dry and abstract, and in the end only using the sport, in a convenient, manipulative way, to say other things, which he deemed more significant—but that is not the writer you’ll meet in the following pages. This is instead one who can transpose on-court sensations into his prose. In those paragraphs that describe how growing up in a windy country shaped his game, briefly allowing him to excel over more talented opponents who tended to get frustrated in unpredictable conditions, he tells us that he was “able to use the currents kind of the way a pitcher uses spit. I could hit curves way out into cross-breezes that’d drop the ball just fair; I had a special wind-serve that had so much spin the ball turned oval in the air and curved left to right. . . .” In reviewing Tracy Austin’s autobiography, he finds a way, despite his disappointment with the book, to say something about athletic greatness and mediocrity, and what truly differentiates them, remembering how as a player he would often “get divided, paralyzed. As most ungreat athletes do. Freeze up, choke. Lose our focus. Become self-conscious. Cease to be wholly present in our wills and choices and movements.” Unlike the great, who become so in part because it would never occur to them not to be “totally present.” Their “blindness and dumbness,” in other words, are not “the price of the gift” but “its essence,” and are even the gift itself. The writer, existing only in reflection, is of all beings most excluded from the highest realms.

Possibly Wallace’s finest tennis piece, certainly his most famous, is “Federer Both Flesh and Not,” an essay first published in 2006 in the Times’ short-lived sports magazine Play. The greatest tennis writer of his generation was writing about the greatest player of his generation. The sentence needs no qualifiers. Federer himself later remarked, in a question-and-answer forum, that he was astonished at what a “comprehensive” piece Wallace had produced, despite the fact that Federer had spent only “20 min with him in the ATP office.” But I doubt Wallace wanted more face time than that. He had come to Wimbledon in search of not the man Roger Federer but rather the being Federer seemed to become when he competed. What Wallace wanted to see occurred only as spectacle. In that respect and others, it is interesting to compare the Federer piece with the profile Wallace had written precisely a decade before, about Michael Joyce. I tend to prefer the earlier piece, for its thick description and subtleties, while recognizing the greatness of the later one. In the Joyce piece, Wallace had written about a nobody, a player no one had heard of and who was never going to make it on the tour. That was the subtext, and at times the text, of the essay: you could be that_ good and still not be good enough. The essay was about agony. In Federer, though, he had a player who offered him a different subject: transcendence. What it actually looked like. An athlete who appeared “to be exempt, at least in part, from certain physical laws.” One can see exactly what Wallace means in footage of the point he breaks down so beautifully—a “sixteen-stroke point” that reads as dramatically as a battle scene—which occurred in the second set of Federer’s 2006 Wimbledon final match against Rafael Nadal, a point that ends with a backhand one can replay infinite times and somehow come no closer to comprehending, struck from about an inch inside the baseline with some kind of demented spin that causes the ball to slip _over the net and vanish. Nadal never touches it. Wallace is able not only to give us the moment but to let us see the strategic and geometric intelligence that went into setting it up, the ability Federer had (has, as of this writing) to “hypnotize” opponents through shot selection.

The key sentences in the Federer essay, to my mind, occur in the paragraph that mentions “evolution.” In discussing the “power baseline” style that has defined the game in the modern era—two heavy hitters standing back and blasting wrist-fracturing ground strokes at each other—Wallace writes that “it is not, as pundits have publicly feared for years, the evolutionary endpoint of tennis. The player who’s shown this to be true is Roger Federer.” One imagines his writing this sentence with something almost like gratitude. It had taken genius to break through the brutal dictates of the power game and bring back an all-court style, to bring back art. And Federer, as Wallace emphasizes, did this from “within” the power game; he did it while handling shots that were moving at hurricane force. Inside the wind tunnel of modern tennis, he crafted a style that seemed made for a butterfly, yet was crushingly effective. What a marvelous subject, and figure, for a twenty-first-century novelist, a writer working in a form that is also (perpetually?) said to be at the end of its evolution, and an artist who similarly, when at his best, showed new ways forward.

This piece was drawn from the introduction to “String Theory: David Foster Wallace on Tennis,” which is out May 10th from Library of America.

John Jeremiah Sullivan is a contributing writer for the Times Magazine and the southern editor of The Paris Review. His forthcoming book is “The Prime Minister of Paradise.”

Bob, Jack Ryan here.

Good morning, Jack.

Listen, I was just thinking, maybe we got off to a bad start here.
We're going to be working together here.
Maybe we should spend some time. Get to know each other a little better.
You pIay Tennis?


You play Tennis?

Yeah, yeah, I play Tennis.

Well, how about we get together sometime?
Next week maybe. Hour before we start work or something.

Jack — 


Computer Theft is a Serious Crime.

So are crimes against The Constitution.

• "Writers would come in an say, 'What about the chaos theory?' And someone else would say, 'Well, what about it?' Everyone would struggle but nobody would devise a story. It wasn't until Jim Trombetta pitched that Michael [Piller] saw a story." 

• Michael Piller conceived Martus Mazur to be the wayward son of Guinan. Guinan herself was to appear in the episode but Whoopi Goldberg was unavailable. All the references to Guinan were removed and only Martus's status as an El-Aurian was retained. 

• "because there was this subplot of the racquetball game that they had wanted to put in a number of times and had not been able to, so they put it in this [episode] after I was gone because they felt it made the most sense since this was about games." He goes onto say, "I would have liked to have done more with the quantum-luck thing. I had the idea that if randomness could be managed, then you're in a lot of trouble. Basically, the universe is random; it's a mind boggling thing. Eventually Quark would beat [Martus] by using Mr. Randomness. We never got into that, although I would have liked to." 


fosterage (n.)
1610s, "the rearing of another's child as one's own," from foster (v.) + -age.

When characters are talking to Starling (Jodie Foster), they often talk directly to the camera. 

When she is talking to them, she is always looking slightly off-camera. 

Director Jonathan Demme has explained that this was done so as the audience would directly experience her point-of-view, but not theirs, hence encouraging the audience to more readily identify with her.

"Not a lot of people know what it feels like to be angry, in your bones. I mean, they understand, foster parents, everybody understands, for awhile. 
Then they want the angry little kid to do something he knows he can't do, move on. 
So after awhile they stop understanding. They send the angry kid to a boys home. 
I figured it out too late. You gotta learn to hide the anger, practice smiling in the mirror. It's like putting on a mask."

foster (v.)
Old English *fostrian "to supply with food, nourish, support," from fostor "food, nourishment, bringing up," from Proto-Germanic *fostra-, from extended form of PIE root *pa- "to feed."

Meaning "to bring up a child with parental care" is from c. 1200; that of "to encourage or help grow" is early 13c. of things; 1560s of feelings, ideas, etc. Old English also had the word as an adjective meaning "in the same family but not related," in fostorfæder, fostorcild, fostormodoretc. 
Related: Fostered; fostering.