Appendix II and Postscript

17 10 2008

(from Fifth Business, by Robertson Davies)

“My own idea is that when He comes again it will be to continue his ministry as an old man. I am an old man and my life has been spent as a soldier of Christ, and I tell you that the older I grow, the less Christ’s teaching says to me. I am sometimes very conscious that I am following the path of a leader who died when He was less than half as old as I am now. I see and feel things He never saw or felt. I know things He seems never to have known. Everybody wants a Christ for himself and those who think like him. Very well, am I at fault for wanting a Christ who will show me how to be an old man? All Christ’s teaching is put forward witht he dogmatism, the certainty, and the strength of youth: I need something that takes account of the accretion of experience, the sense of paradox and ambiguity that comes with years!”


Thèse: c’est une vanité de la jeunesse de se sentir vieux. Anti-thèse: et l’envers aussi. Synthèse: jusqu’à ce que ce ne soit plus une vanité, mais la vérité.

Appendix I (to the preceding post)

17 10 2008

An Encouraging Table

(adapted from David Galenson’s creativity study as cited in Malcolm Gladwell’s New Yorker article)

Age 23: T. S. Eliot’s “Prufrock”

Age 41: Robert Lowell’s “Skunk Hour”

Age 48: Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

Age 40: William Carlos Williams’s “Red Wheelbarrow”

Age 29: Elizabeth Bishop’s “The Fish”

Age 30: Ezra Pound’s “The River Merchant’s Wife”

Age 30: Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy”

Age 28: Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro”

Age 42: Wallace Stevens’s “The Snow Man”

The Mathematics of Greatness: A Numbers Game; or, Feeling the Pinch of Age, Are We?

17 10 2008

Great anticipator that I am, I was readying this quip shortly before my 30th birthday: 33 is important to Christians, of course, as a time of stock-taking and reckoning, but as an Asian, I’ll soon only have 2 years left to kick ass, take names, and leave my mark on the world, since Bruce Lee died at 32. Of course, given the pace of preceding life, I didn’t really think I’d get anything fantastic done by then, short of winning money in a lottery whose tickets I never believed in enough to buy. I have since delivered variations on the theme thereof, at variously inopportune occasions, to variously unenthusiastic receptions. It’s reminiscent of the paragraph in Snow Crash when the narrator reflects, as Hiro Protagonist speeds northward on a motorcycle, that up until the age of 25 we can all still hold onto the illusion that, given the necessary bleak conditions, like the sudden murder of our entire family, we can still plunge ourselves into ninja training and emerge the baddest badass in the known universe (Neal Stephenson, forgive the paraphrase).

I did my dutiful research for turning thirty. I delved into novels, naturally. Turning thirty, wouldn’t you know, is a pastime in American literature. Read the rest of this entry »