There IS Something Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding

Especially the latter: at least to this cultural historian. I mean it’s been weeks since I dreamt that my sainted co-mentor Warren Susman served me up a question on the literary critic-historian Van Wyck Brooks for my written doctoral exam. In the dream I was writing the exam not at Bishop House on College Ave. (we’re talking 1981 here) where it actually took place but at a picnic, me surrounded by fellow grad students un-burdened on that particular day by a 9-hour ordeal.

Susman loved Brooks but he was not part of my pre-exam readings; that’s trouble though Warren had always said my exam would likely be weak albeit I appeared capable of writing a worthy dissertation (draft chapters of which were in Sus’s luggage at the time of his sudden death at a Minneapolis lecturn in Spring ’85; would that were only a bad dream).

Charlie and I launched a tradition of lengthy bike rides to and fro Van Wyck Brooks’ home town of Plainfield 3, 4, years ago: first in autumn to celebrate another safe and lovely season a-bike; then more regularly to the point where the Queen City is now a routine destination: two lively go-rounds to historic neighborhoods today, in fact, those thirty-plus miles courtesy of Charlie’s between school sessions and my summer course Tuesday-thru-Thursday schedule.

Yet it was only days ago I made the wholly obvious geographic connection. I call it “the lag” and it’s a steady cognitive companion; one salient feature of the ADHD kingdom. But I did quickly remember that in the dream, I initially stood atop a picnic table using a piano bench to write on; then I stood atop the bench itself. Of course! Plainfield was also home to the great Bill Evans, who graces Charlie’s I-Pad thanks to Dr. Chew.

I have a long way to go in learning how to write not only about my dreams but one Charles Vincent Fisher. Dr. Chew, on the other hand, has been bearing nightly witness since June 2005; that anniversary won’t be obscured by any lag. That is some archive K. has compiled, and since I don’t travel much anymore…someday, when my learning has grown at least commensurate to where I was at in dissertation stage.

Yet another notable Plainfield native was the legendary editor Maxwell Perkins. Why couldn’t Susman have quizzed me instead on Perkins’ client F. Scott Fitz? Because Warren always knew what he was doing: no lag there. Had he lived I hope he’d now be asking students about Parliament-Funkadelic founder George Clinton; sure, he too hails from Plainfield.

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