Apr 232010

Call me Ishmael.  Well, not exactly. I’ve been more Ahab than Ishmael this week.  A stray gray whale, Eschrichtius robustus, wandered into the San Diego Bay on Monday, off-track on its spring migration back to Alaska from the warm waters of Baja, Mexico.  I spent several hours along the shoreline of the bay in search of the mighty beast, but alas, no sightings.  My daughter swears she spotted him once, but her sighting remains unconfirmed.  I will use the whale-in-the-bay excuse next week to request an extension for packet four.

Part 2: I’ve just returned from my daughter’s music recital at her school.  I couldn’t help but think about writing  whenever a kid hit a wrong note (not my kid, of course!)  I know nothing about playing music.  I never learned how, truly one of the great regrets of my life, probably because I enjoy listening to music so much.  But when a song gets mangled by a young music student, the effect reminds me how difficult the structure of music is.   (Forgive my laymen’s terms…see earlier caveat.)  It never occurred to me before how these young musicians’ struggles are similar to my own.  I am often so careless with words, not realizing the effect my carelessness has on the rendering.  Language can be such an easy thing to play with, yet the power of language, when used with rigorous care, is not unlike the power of music when played correctly.  They both can elevate to such majestic heights.  I suppose I have a new, deeper sympathy for my advisers now.  Just be thankful I’m not getting my MFA in chamber music.  Oye.

Part 3: This week, between feckless whale watching and festive music performances, I started re-reading John Fowles novel, The Magus.  (I think this will be my fifth reading.)  This novel ranks in my all-time top two.  If forced to choose, I’d say Crime & Punishment is still #1, The Magus is #2.  But it’s a close race.  I’ve not read this novel since staring at VCFA, so my appreciation for it has grown considerably.  I also travelled to many of the places Fowles talks about in the book since the last time I read it, so that’s an interesting change too.  Fowles’ ability to weave disparate, wild ideas into a cohesive, almost taught narrative astounds me.  This book forces me to think deeply and experience emotions, all the while challenging my assumptions about reality.

I suppose I’ll push through and finish my packet this weekend, unless the whale surfaces again.

—Richard Farrell

  4 Responses to “On Stray Whales, Music Recitals & Magi (or: How I Avoided Packet 4)”

  1. Hmmm.

    And I suppose Elle only ranks #3? (I am just thinking ahead as to how I will react to your 4th packet).


  2. Like Oprah, I rank only dead authors…keeps the competition more fair.

    • Very clever response. Diplomatic. Much too clever and diplomatic.

      I am also deeply worried about the scars your post will leave on your daughter’s psyche. Of course, she saw the whale. Didn’t they teach you anything at Basic Father School?

      I can’t wait to get my hands on your packet.

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