Frosty and still, and early, this 5 A.M. on the morning of
December 15, 1985. Walking about the living-room in
his bedclothes Sam Goldberg , violinist, vacantly examined the
miraculous snow-flake ballet descending from the high heavens to its
Staring through the tall French windows of his
stately house in Bostonís fashionable Concord suburb he watched the
streetlights flicker and go out. There was still plenty of time
before he had to go to the garage and start warming up the car. At 7
there would be the drive to Logan Airport to catch the plane to Denver
for the noontime ( Rocky Mountain Time) performance of Handelís
Messiah by the Colorado Symphony.
"Breakfast is ready, Sam". Calling him from the
kitchen and getting no response, his wife came looking for him. Sharon
had been up since 4 ; she would be returning to bed after he left.
Dressed in a red robe, her hair done up in curlers, 4 years younger
than he was , she looked 10 years older . Sam was very fit for a man of 62 .
" Just a minute, Sharon." He returned to the bathroom
and washed up at the sink. The heavy demand for Samís
talents would keep him in the West for the next eight days. His
schedule didnít bring him back to the Boston area before his
Christmas day appearance with the Boston Philharmonic in Symphony
Hall. With a bit of luck he and Sharon could then spend the evening
with their 3 children, Abe, Simon and Rebecca, all grown to
maturity with their own families and concerns. He would take them to a
good kosher restaurant in Brookline.
A brief respite! Sam dried his face with a towel, threw on a bathrobe
and slippers and shuffled into the
dining-room. After Christmas, Sam wasnít expected home again until January 11th.
The interim would see him trekking through snowstorms to
engagements all over the country, as well as several
We ought not to give the wrong impression: one shouldn't
conclude from this that Sam and Sharon felt under
any pressure to make the best use of the available time. On the
contrary, they saw perhaps too much of one another. Sam only worked two
months out of the year.
On his way into the dining-room, Sam paused to adjust
the Hanukah decorations on the mantelpiece over the
fireplace; then he verified the time from a small pendulum clock.
Standing at the dinner table before lowering himself onto the soft
cushion of his custom-made upholstered chair , he emitted a sigh of
fervent contentment. The aroma of coffee and clatter of dishware signaled
Sharonís imminent arrival. While he waited he relived, as he was
fond of doing, the high moments of his graduation in June of 1946,
at the top of his class, from the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. He
chuckled at the high hopes that teachers, family andfellow students
alike had placed in him, and simpered as he contemplated, once
more, the cleverness with which he had disappointed
All the faces of the teachers beloved of his youth
rose up again before his mindís eye: kind, dumpy and wise Professor
Baumgartner, chairman of the Violin Division; the brilliant,
exquisitely groomed Professor Spinelli for composition; Professor
Lutoslowski, always in a hurry, never on time: piano. Each and every one of
THEM had assumed that he , Sam Goldberg, would work like a
HORSE at the plow for all the rest of his days and STARVE for ART !
But he , Sam Goldberg the violinist, had quickly laid to rest their
European Conservatory old-fogey foolishness: HE had done the
UNFORGIVABLE, and THRIVED!
Sharon, sad and unsmiling, came in from the kitchen dragging
a tray holding cereal, coffee and eggs. He planned to retire in 3
years, bringing to an end a very successful, in fact extraordinary,
though far from brilliant, career. Age had not mistreated him. He
was only slightly overweight, in good health for a man in his 60ís, his
glasses prescription stronger because of fading eyesight, his hearing
unimpaired. The tonsure of silver hair stretching behind his ears
around the back of his head only added further distinction to his
bearing as a respected senior musician.
As Sam reminded himself, he lived like a celebrity
from doing the bare minimum of work - "like Jascha Heifetz!",
he cried, talking out loud to himself, " I probably earn more, I bet
you", he gloated inwardly , " in real dollars, than Baumgartner,
Spinelli and Lutoslowksi ever did - all put together !...And in
America!" he cackled so loud that even Sharon, who had lost most
of her hearing over the decade, could hear him, " MONEY is where
itís AT ! MONEYí S WHAT COUNTS!"
"Eat up, Sam... you have to leave soon. " His habit of talking
to himself in public had gotten worse as he aged. His reflections were
continued in silence : What was my secret of success, I wonder ? It
was not the first time he had asked himself this essentially rhetorical
question: CLEVERNESS ! , just for starters. Then... A TOTAL LACK
OF AMBITION.....Finally... A HARD-NOSED PHILOSOPHY OF
LIFE! ....A capacity for "realism"! ... beyond the ordinary, far beyond
that of every other musician Iíve ever known ... ..
"SAM" , he congratulated himself, not in the least put
the shamelessness of his self-satisfaction, Youíve got that primitive
grasp on the verities of life that puts you in the company of the
likes of Rockefellers, Vanderbilts , Gettys!....
Sharon watched him with concern. He didnít realize
that he was getting old, but to her the symptoms were obvious.
She seriously worried that he might not make it through this
Christmas. After his return in January she intended to put pressure on him
to retire, or at least reduce his commitments . They had enough money;
it was only force of habit that kept him at an occupation that was
no longer required of him. Or was he being driven by something
else ? No one understands what motivates artists. She certainly
didnít understand Sam, and sheíd been married to him for 32 years.
Sam entered as a student at the Curtis Institute in
1945, just after the war. A few months at Curtis led Sam to
the realization that, leaving aside his own opinions on the genre,
(which were mixed ) , the listening public had firmly rejected
modern or contemporary classical music. Popular music was the
obvious alternative, but had no appeal for him. Why , he
argued, should he spend the rest of his artistic life rubbing shoulders
with people he considered his artistic, mental and technical
In his third year he reached an even more radical conclusion: that
concert audiences had little use for most of the standard
classical repertoire as well. How often did one see a concert hall display
poster advertising Mozartís 2nd Violin Concerto? Salieriís operas?
Hummelís piano concertos? The Mendelssohn String
Quartets? Any symphony of Dvorchakís except the New World ?
It was patently self-evident that the majority of
music lovers only wanted to hear a small number of established
masterpieces played over and over again in exactly the same way.
The realities were enough to discourage any serious ,
security-conscious young artist, and Sam briefly considered dropping out of
Curtis and enrolling in medical school. Then his imagination
went to work, and in due course he discovered a silver lining within
the dark cloud of professional music. Any qualified musician who
invested his energy into mastering a few shrewdly chosen war-horses
could forever afterwards chuck out the sentimental garbage about
suffering in garrets and snubbing the Philistines and working for
nothing and live out his allotted span of days surrounded by all
the blessings of comfort and wealth. The remaining residue of work was
more in the nature of a hobby: cultivating the agents,
institutions and grateful audiences who would reward him handsomely for the
undeviating rendition of the tried-and-trusted.
He continued to weigh the career options in classical music up
to the end. Providing neither money nor job satisfaction, teaching
was definitely not one of them. At his senior honors recital at Curtis
in May of 1946 Sam presented the Paganini Concerto in Eb , the
Wienawski Concerto in D minor and the Bartok Unaccompanied
Violin Sonata. More fiendishly difficult pieces do not exist in the
By graduation day he had narrowed the list down to a single indestructible
the first violin part of the orchestral accompaniment to
Handelís Messiah, a score technically accessible to any talented
elementary school student after two years of Suzuki method .
Of course it should be noted that for accomplished musicians
there are no easy pieces in the classical repertoire.
During an interview on the PBS series, "Live From Lincoln
Center", Itzhak Perlman once explained that Mozartís violin concertos, although
lacking in every gymnastic device present, for example, in any of
the concertos by Paganini , are in many respects more difficult to
perform in public. There is total exposure on every note, no tricks to
make the facile sound complicated, no display of brilliant effects to
disguise poor musicianship or faulty intonation.
Even so simple a score as the first violin part of Handelís Messiah
will resound, when
played by a musician at Samís level, as far above the rendition of
your generic orchestra violinist, as the ravishing bouquet of vintage
Chateau-Laffite Rothschild will soar above that of ordinary table
wine. Sam devoted 3 years, from 1947 to 1950, to the
attainment of absolute mastery of the Messiah score. Every note was
committed to memory, all bowings revised a dozen times,
fingerings many times more.
This experimentation with minor technical improvements went
on for another decade , and never completely stopped at any time in
his career. He sought out and studied every recording in the
catalogues. He read the musicologists, analyzing the score
theoretically, historically and artistically. In the hope of gaining
insight into the oratorioís deep structure, he went so far as to
explore the writings of Heinrich Schenker! Ultimately
he knew every note of every orchestral part, the chorus, and all the
vocal soloists, as thoroughly as any conductor.
It is rumored he once stunned Leopold Stokowski, of
fabled and prodigious memory, by pointing out an error in
the bassoon part undetected by the maestro. While acquiring this
proficiency, Sam supported himself by freelancing. Several orchestras
wanted to make him their permanent concertmaster. He turned them
all down; Sam knew what he wanted. Within a few short years he
had convinced everyone in the music business that his
presence on the stage at a Messiah performance galvanized orchestras
and audiences alike in a way that no-one had ever imagined possible.
Mind you, this was a young man, still in his twenties. Once he
started playing, everything cohered; the effect was indeed amazing.
Musicians who had performed in the Messiah a hundred times over
suddenly found new life in what had seemed a tedious obligation.
Either on stage or in the audience, to watch Sam at the helm was to
be witness to a revelation. Orchestral sound gained incredible
homogeneity, sophistication, style. Conductors were known to say
that Sam rendered their role superfluous, he knew the music so
much better than they did.
For concert hall managers, ticket agents, trustees and
orchestral boards of directors, it was the testimony
of the Box Office which told them everything they needed to know. By
the early 1950ís , Sam could -and did- call the shots. He never played
anything in public but this one piece, never accepted a position
lower than concertmaster, never gave autographs, or solo
performances, or lessons. He banked his first million just before the
Kennedy assassination. Financial insecurity was henceforth a
thing of the past . Wise investments gave adequate protection to
his old age.
By his own lights his crowning achievement was in the creation
of a brand new profession within music: roving Messiah
concertmaster. By the early 50's his career was already settling into
a stable rut whose momentum would carry him through the next
four decades. From January to March , and again from May to November, Sam Goldbergís
fingers did not so much as graze the strings of either of his prized
Old Italian Masters violins, an Amati and a Guarnerius .
Getting back into shape, which he did in the months of March and
November respectively, was pursued in a leisurely manner. He
disciplined gradually, pacing himself through a strict though not
strenuous program of exercises, etudes and scales, supplemented by jogging
and workouts. He also went on a diet, not only for his physical well-
being, but also because the concert season invariably brought many
invitations to banquets, not all of which could be declined ,where
excessively rich food was on the menu.
A monthís steady training sufficed for the cruel workloads of
Christmas and Easter. Between Thanksgiving and Twelfth Night
and from the end of March to the beginning of May, Sam
slogged between 120 to 150 gigs! Since his fees ranged from
one to as much as five thousand dollars per concert , his yearly
income before taxes was never less than $250,000.
Most of his effort was directed towards lining up engagements
for the two seasons,
in about 50 cities and towns across the United States, and a dozen or so in the rest of the world :
every year took him at least once to Montreal, London, Dublin,
Sydney, Tokyo, Copenhagen and Bombay, with less
frequent commitments from Djakarta, Rio de Janeiro, Capetown, occasional
appearances in Paris, Stockholm, etc.
The overwork fell short of killing him outright, though the return
more compensated him
handsomely for the misery. For 8 months out of the year Sam was
free to do as he damn well pleased. Though excessively arduous,
even punishing during these brief intervals, his profession
demanded neither inventiveness, resourcefulness, dedication, risk,
or imagination . The venue for the exercise of these faculties was
manifested in the intricacies and details of making arrangements:
scheduling, travel, connections, cost cutting , emergencies, accommodations.
Sam loved every minute of it. The birth of the home computer
had brought the decisive miracle to Samís career. His library of
diskettes held information worth millions, a multi-layered, cross-
referenced encyclopedia of road maps , mileages, auto repair shops,
filling stations .... up-to-date schedules, prices, specials, package
deals, long distance and short distance options for trains, airline
companies, major bus lines, short lines, urban and rural transit
systems .... seasonal hotel accommodations .... daily, sometimes
hourly weather reports across the country and around the world ....
restaurant locations, menus and prices .... local addresses for violin
repairmen and music stores .... large address books filled with
information about all the agencies and personalities in the music
world necessary for the management of his affairs .
Had he so wished, Sam could have set aside part of his free
time for developing a lucrative, and much less taxing, business
as a travel consultant for other musicians. Using the resources
available in his information retrieval system one could arrange travel
between any two accessible settlements in the United States with
no more than 4transfers between trains and planes, local buses and
taxis, often with savings at 30 to 50% over the big companies
such as Greyhound and Amtrak. Juggling the connections,
striking a balance between time and cost, implied a talent for
precision timing. Not for nothing had Sam graduated
at the top of his class at Curtis : is violin-playing anything else ?
Yet as was recognized by everyone, himself included ,
he had no ambition. He no more wanted to be a business
tycoon than he did to be a great violinist. His goal in life , oft
proclaimed in fatuous detail to friend, family and associate as "Samís
practical philosophy", was to do as little work as possible, yet
live like royalty.
It just happened to be the case that this view of the
world had, over almost 4 decades, translated itself into a calendar of
two months of back-breaking labor followed by 10 months of delicious
Sam was enormously proud of himself. While one might not
agree with most of his self-satisfying justifications, there
is no doubt that he had to be given credit for shrewdness: if there is
one musical masterpiece that the Christian world will continue to
listen to after a billion replays, it is the Messiah. Handelís Messiah
will outlast McDonaldís hamburgers. As long as Christianity
remained a force in the world, Samís nest-egg was indestructible. Nor was he
considering new strategies for survival in the event of itsí
In the United States, his fixed engagements as a Messiah
concertmaster included Hartford, New Haven, Providence,
Portland, Burlington and several other small New England towns; 4
in Boston ; 8 or more in and around New York City ; Buffalo;
Syracuse; 2 in Philadelphia; Anchorage; Miami; Charleston;
Louisville; Cleveland; Detroit; 3 in Chicago; St. Louis; Phoenix;
Minneapolis; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Birmingham; 2 in Atlanta; 4 in
Chicago; Houston; Seattle; Denver; 2 in Salt Lake City; 2 in San
Francisco; 5 or more around Los Angeles, etc. These were
guaranteed, while others were re-negotiated from one year to the
After 40 years in the profession of course, Sam
hardly needed to hustle. Within the music world everybody knew him as
" Sam, the Messiah Man". Many legends circulated about him. One
of them centered on a booking agency in New York where,
every year shortly before 11 AM on the third Monday in September,
the entire staff gathered around the telephone. As they waited
they placed bets on the exact minute when Samís call would come on
line. This ritual had been going on for at least 20 years. Sam
always called between 11 and 11:10. In the first ten years he always
introduced himself with "Hello. This is Sam. Howís the Messiah
doing?" Then he dropped the "This is Sam" part. Once , so the story
goes, someone picked up the receiver and barked, without waiting
for his voice: "Messiahs for Hire, Incorporated!"
Christmas Day, 1985.
The Boston Symphony Messiah concert
was scheduled for the 3:00 matinee. 1 The wind was high, the day
bitterly cold. A steady snowfall had begun early in the afternoon. At
2:30 , true to form, Sam Goldbergís Lincoln Continental pulled up in
front of the stage entrance on the north side of Symphony Hall. He
stepped swiftly out the front door, retrieved his instrument case from
the back , then handed the keys to the doorman whose job was to
take his car further down the street to his reserved space in the
orchestra parking lot at the far end of the monumental building.
To get there on time Sam had raced through heavy traffic
from Logan Airport. The holiday's wrestling match
with the iron law of wages had begun the night before at a
gigantic midnight mass concluding an Evangelical Congress at the St.
Louis Convention Center. There had been no sleep for him
that night: a plane flew him to La Guardia airport in time to
preside over a 9 A.M. Messiah at the Union Theological Seminary in
New York City. His brother, a rabbi on the faculty, sat in the
audience. His refusal to stand during the Hallelujah Chorus may
have been due to religious scruples, or it may also have contained an
implied reproach of his brotherís attitudes . Sam didnít wait to
find out: a chartered limousine took him to Newark airport, where he caught
the 45-minute Continental Airlines commuter shuttle to
Boston. At 2 A.M. that night he would be on yet another plane back to
Chicago! Then onwards to Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan, and St.
A vortex of snow whirled like a tower in his wake
as he hurried through the doors . A doorman cleared
the way; Sam returned no greetings. During the holiday season one
could not have uncovered so much as a mustard seed of
benevolence in his calculating heart .These were THE MOST LUCRATIVE DAYS
of the year. From the long travail beginning with the
midnight mass the night before and ending with a guest appearance
with Pinchas Zuckermanís chamber orchestra in St. Paul, Sam raked
in $50,000. A Hard-Nosed Philosophy of Life
Sam hung his hat, coat and scarf on a rack in the performerís lounge,
then dashed into the Menís Room for some quick grooming.
Within 15 minutes of his arrival he was in the wings,
pacing the musicianís lounge. The priceless Guarnerius was
withdrawn from its case, the strings tuned, the bow tightened and
rosined. Warming up with scales or passage-work hardly seemed
necessary: had he not already played the score twice over in less than 16
hours? Nor was it necessary even to review the slight variants in the
different editions used between St. Louis , New York and Boston: Sam knew
A droll recording of chimes playing the horn solo from
Wagner's Siegfried recalled the audience to their seats. The
auditorium's amplified din subsided as the musicians began
walking onto the stage in small groups. Lights dimmed as Sam,
followed by Seiji Ozawa, now in his 14th year as permanent
conductor of the Boston Symphony, entered from the left.
With the consummate stage presence of a veteran of 4
decades of public service Sam returned the applause from an
eager audience by a deep bow at the waist. He placed a thin
handkerchief on his left shoulder; his was of the old-fashioned school that did
not use shoulder-rest gadgets. His ear picked up the ambiguous
"A" from the oboe which his strings , following minute
adjustments, transmitted to the rest of the orchestra. Fans waved to him from
the audience; he winked at them as he sat down. Comfortably seated in
the concertmasterís chair, his gaze casually examined the
ranges of sentimental pseudo-Greek bas- reliefs at the base of
the ceiling. He recalled what Isadora Duncan had said about them: "You
worship plaster Gods!" "I wonder how much", he asked himself
with a rhetorical smirk , "she left in her bank account? "
Orchestra musicians treasure their ancient jokes;
some of them probably go back to the Middle Ages. One of more
recent origin, speaks about the viola player who dreams that he is
sitting in an orchestra playing the Brahms Requiem. Upon awakening
he finds himself in an orchestra, playing the Brahms Requiem.
40 years of conditioning had worked on his nervous system so as to
place him far beyond the protagonist in this dour anecdote , far
beyond either dreaming or sleeping, or even hypnosis . The proper analogue
to Samís spiritual achievement is rather to the workers on automobile
plant assembly lines, whose mental survival depends on their
capacity to totally block out their minds while on the job . One might
describe Sam as someone who had fashioned himself to be , to a
consummate degree, the perfect artifact of modern capitalism : a
technician ridiculously over-trained for the production of an single absurdly
These observations are important for the understanding of his
distress when, starting with the fugue that enters midway through
the Overture , Sam acknowledged the encroachment of a
relentless, irritating though strangely welcome rumination,
utterly unlike anything heíd ever experienced before. Despite all his
conditioning and will power, his mind now refused to shut down on
With an obstinate energy that caught him off balance, he found
himself picking up and pursuing a train of reasoning that had
actually begun the night before in St. Louis, during an endless
harangue heíd been forced to listen to on divine intervention and
the Virgin Birth. By the time of the entry of the tenor recitative ,
" Comfort Ye My People", a host of nagging reflections had
swollen to the proportions of an obsession. No noticeable effects
were translated into his playing. At 3 AM in the morning ,
blindfolded, drugged, and fast asleep , even comatose, he could still
render a Messiah without faltering or blemish. This is what Sam
Now, you take this man, Jesus. I consider him as just
a man, mind you. Remember: just a man. Ií m a Jew, ( they donít
let you forget it) .... Iím never going to believe the Christiansí "Son
of God" cockamamie ...
Between you, me and the metronome , believing in
God is already a crock, if you know what I mean. I never met anyone
who ever made a dime crying Hallelujah and crawling before an old man
with a beard , begging for forgiveness ..... So Ií m a lousy Jew,
too , all right? So why should I worry about his so-called Son , I ask
you? .....But you know, his birth was a good thing for me ...... Hey !
Ií ve made a fat income from it all my life... and for music in general
....they tell me that Christmas carols are like a soup kitchen for
jazz musicians on the skids....and his death gave us Easter, too, a
real blessing ...as a matter of fact, the goyim consider his death
more important than his birth, otherwise there wouldnít be any
religion... and , say, when you really come down to it... . he went on, with a
disturbing sort of momentum,
....The way this man, Jesus, died, couldnít have
...... He was just a man, remember; just a man .... a
man, not God.... for the Holy Scriptures say that He rose up in the
flesh and appeared to his disciples after 3 days.....and they
believed in Him.....and again on the road to Emmaus...and only
doubting Thomas refused to believe...until he touched the
wounds.. ..( what utter balderdash ! ) .....and then the Church fathers
went out into the desert, and fasted...and the martyrs were
persecuted by Rome... but then Rome acknowledged Christianity as its state
religion...and it took root in the two Empires, East and West
..... then came the Dark Ages .... and the Faith conquered Europe....
and spread all over the world ....
Startled, Sam shook his head as if waking from a dream :
whatís this all about? But he soon fell back into the same train of
thought :.... then, in the 18th century, George, the English monarch
imported from Germany, brought Handel along with him ..... who
conquered the English musical world .... and King George the First
commissioned the Messiah .... or maybe it was George the
Second .... I donít think it was George the Third, thatís the
American Revolution...I donít know, Ií m not a musicologist! Ií m
not even a violinist when you come down to it, or rather Ií m a funny
kind of violinist..... so that millions of Christians around the world
would flock to performances of the Messiah at Christmas and
Easter, year after year for centuries, .... so that
GOLDBERG, COULD DRAW A GUARANTEED INCOME FOR
FORTY YEARS WITHOUT HAVING TO LEARN A SINGLE GOD-
DAMNED NEW PIECE OF MUSIC!...or pretend that I really enjoy
living like an artist, that is to say like a DOG , or be forced against
my will to be creative, or show initiative, or invent some kind of
ambition IN THIS MISERABLE, CUT-THROAT, RUTHLESS,
VICIOUS AMERICAN ECONOMY!!
Sam Goldbergí s violin obbligato, written by himself 20 years
earlier to accompany the alto aria " He Was Despised
And Rejected, A Man of Sorrows And Acquainted With Grief " , was
always the high point of any of his Messiah concerts. There
existed a dedicated following of music lovers all over the country who
came to his concerts solely to experience the transport of ecstasy
delivered by the sound of his lyric violin sobbing above this aria. As
he began to draw the soft strains that raised the illusion of an
amber glow over the trembling strings, Sam could scarcely restrain
himself from crying out:
" WHAT ALL OF THIS MEANS IS THAT CHRIST DIED FOR
ME - FOR ME ALONE! CHRIST HAD TO DIE SO THAT SAM
GOLDBERG COULD LIVE!! "
Like the sun emerging from the edge of a vanishing
storm-cloud, Samís stiff grimace crinkled across his face.
Smug satisfaction rippled from ear to ear. Observing the
cleverness heíd demonstrated in reaching this conclusion had given
him great pleasure. But now it was time once again to hew the
line: his special relation to Christ could be debated in his 10 months
Calling upon almost half a century of habit, Sam
again totally emptied his mind.
Yet with an upsurge of mounting horror he found
himself, for the first time ever in all his days as a Messiah
concertmaster , thinking about the meaning of the words written in
......" He was despised and rejected, a Man of Sorrows and
acquainted with grief. " Responding to a strange agony moving
through the depths of his interior oppression, Sam moaned softly to
" I, too, am acquainted with grief!...Didnít Julie, my daughter,
die in a car accident when she was only 15? ...And when my
mother died while I was on tour, I couldnít miss even a single day
to be at her bedside. ...It didnít matter that I loved her as much
as any son can love a mother ... she had to die alone!...And the
doctors say thereí s trouble with my heart...Theyíll soak me for all the
money I ever made , then throw my body into an unmarked
grave......like Mozart!... And property values are dropping in
Concord .... too many ethnics, like Sharon and me. Weíll have to move -
in our 70ís !
....And Sharon, I know she doesnít love me, Ií ve
known it for many years...." . Sam wept copiously. The musicians
seated at the adjacent stands were too thoroughly engrossed in their
chores to take notice.
" ...Despised...Rejected.. Rejected of Men! That
describes me exactly, just as it did that man , Jesus...í He gave
his face to the smiters!í And, Oh, DONíT I know what that means! I
know how they all hate me, ME, SAM GOLDBERG THE MESSIAH MAN!,
because I graduated at the top of my class, and GOT RICH through
mastering a single score and playing it for the rest of my career! OH
THEY HATE ME ALL RIGHT!
Like a moth returning to the scorching flame , his mind feasted
obsessively on its torment :
" I am Sam Goldberg, the Messiah Man, despised and rejected of
men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief!
BEHOLD AND SEE, IF THERE BE ANY SORROW LIKE UNTO MY SORROW!!...."
By a powerful effort of will Sam managed to pull himself
together. Anyone observing him at that moment would
quickly have seen that he was in the grips of a major spiritual
crisis. But why should anyone have thought that something was amiss ?
The audience couldnít see him very well. The players were
busy. His violin playing was, if possible, above even his usual
standard of flawless perfection.
Yet somewhere in the middle of the chorus , " The
Lord Gave The Word " , there came that irrevocable moment when
the deep truth heíd sought through these two long hours of
misery exploded into consciousness, when Samís suffering psyche was
rent by the force of a grandiose revelation: It arrived at the
end of a long interior discourse that went something like this :
".....Jesus was a Man of Sorrows... I, too, am a Man of Sorrows...Jesus
has been called ĎThe Messiahí .... I, too, am called ĎThe Messiah Maní...and
Jesus died for me ALONE , so that I could live!
WHAT CAN THIS MEAN? WHAT ELSE CAN THIS MEAN?
.......Jesus was born... ( Behold, a Virgin shall conceive ! ) ....Jesus
preached to the multitudes; those who had ears to hear, heard ; the
others did not....He healed the lame and blind, raised the dead....He
suffered and died on the Cross , the Prince of Peace... Then the
disciples proclaimed the teachings of their beloved
Rabbi. ...The Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans , 70
A.D . ..The Jews dispersed, my ancestors among them... Constantine
converted to Christianity , A.D. 336.....Then begins the long
line of Popes... Charlemagne, feudalism, the Middle Ages .....
European classical music develops, very slowly ,under the patronage of
the Roman church..... Luther, Calvin... Henry the Eighth and
the Church of England.... Elizabeth, the golden age of English music
and letters.... Cromwell, the demise of music in England...the
Restoration, which chases out the Puritans and brings music back into the
churches... 1688, the Glorious Revolution; James the Second is
booted out, .... William of Orange is invited over from Holland...Then Parliament
asks George Ludwig, Elector of Hanover, if he wants to be king...1702...He instructs Handel to join him in
1712...... WHO COMPOSES THE MESSIAH IN 1741 ! WHICH IS PERFORMED
FOR THE FIRST TIME IN DUBLIN, ON APRIL 13, 1742 ! ...
Wasnít there some kind of calendar reform about then? ....
Where was I ?
.... Sam paused, only for a brief moment, before going on .... Mozart arranges the score for large orchestra
....a Messiah cult evolves around Christmas and Easter, together with evergreen trees, wreathes, bunnies, turkeys,
reindeer, Santa Claus... To the sole end that SAM GOLDBERG, ALSO A JEW, COULD KNOW FULLNESS OF LIFE!!"
There was not a minute to be lost. As the Hallelujah Chorus
burst over Symphony Hall , Sam sprang to his feet and cried:
"I AM JESUS CHRIST! I, SAM GOLDBERG, AM GODí S
OWN SON! GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE SENT ME,
SAM GOLDBERG, HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, SO THAT YE
MIGHT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE!!! "
The audience was on its feet bellowing the Hallelujah
at the top of its lungs and unaware of what was happening. But
Samís wild antics were being played out in full view of the entire
Boston Symphony . Seiji Ozawa went on with his conducting,
indicating to the startled musicians that they should continue to play
on as if nothing were the matter. He'd dealt with worse crises in his
35 years as a conductor. He paused long enough to bend down to the
principal cellist and give him instructions to rush offstage, alert the
security guards and telephone for an ambulance. The curtains
would come down at the termination of the Hallelujah Chorus. F or
the moment there was nothing else to be done : Sam had to be
allowed to rave at liberty. His Buddhist father, he reflected, would
have provided an apt proverb.
" They all crack up in this racket" , Ozawa murmured to himself,
bitterly, in Japanese,
"Each in his own way, sooner or later, they all go down."
1 A glance at the appropriate old newspapers will confirm that this
just a story.
There is now a Roy Lisker Archive at the Olin Library of
Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. Starting May, I will
be bringing up journals and other documents from the Hudson Valley
to begin the enormous job of arranging, sorting and cataloguing all the
papers accumulated since the late 50's . Ultimately the archive will
contain notebooks, journals, working drafts, manuscripts, personal
documents, copies of published books and articles, etc. A complete file
of all issues of Ferment and New Universe Weekly ( 1980-81) will also be
available for use by the Wesleyan community, scholars and the general
public. Suggestions and ideas are welcome.
Amplitude of the Cosmos
This collection of 8 experimental narratives has now been
published by XLibris. An excerpt from the book "3 Weddings" can be
< www.xlibris.com/AmplitudeoftheCosmos.html> . On this page one
can also find information about purchasing the book. The list price is
Paris , March 7-17
On the evening of March 7th, in fulfillment
of a promise made 6
years earlier, Ferment's editor boarded a TWA plane for Paris to attend
a meeting organized by a committee that has been set up to bring the
life and works of the great mathematician, Alexandre Grothendieck, to
the attention of the scientific world and the general public.
In June of 1994 I did some fund-raising for a project of a more
limited scope: locating Alexandre's whereabouts. This goal generated
some controversy, given that most of us agree that people who want to
be left alone should have a right to do so.
In this case, given the extreme condition of AG's psychological
state, which fluctuated on
insanity, his importance for modern science and, above all, the
ruthlessness with which he himself had just violated the privacy of
many of his colleagues by publishing a memoir ( Recoltes et Semailles )
filled with vicious personal attacks against all of them, it was felt that,
for his own good and to keep open a dialogue which he had sought to
sabotage by these base expedients, one had the right at least to see for
oneself that he was in good health, nor wandering about out lost
through the countryside of southern France, and if he was prepared to
discuss the accusations he'd made against so many. I'd also observed,
during my first visit with him in 1988, that although he shuns and
rejects company he is actually very lonely, and in fact does appreciate it
when anyone, briefly, vaults the hurdles he's placed against visitors, if
only to say hello.
It turned out that finding him was the easiest part. He is now
living somewhere in the Pyrenees. His self-imposed visitors' list is more
restricted than the federal government's for Leonard Peltier. Although
direct communication with him is next to impossible, there are
neighbors in the village where he resides who look after him. Thus,
although he is known to come up with ideas like living on dandelion
soup and nothing else , they see to it that he maintains a proper diet.
These neighbors keep in touch with AG well-wishers in Paris and
Montpellier, so one doesn't need to worry about him
Although I did raise the money to go to France, living interfered
with life, as it always does. Even as Alexandre has buried himself in the
Pyrenees, so I buried myself in Middletown, Connecticut. As Voltaire
said before taking up permanent residence in Fernay, "Tend Your
Gardens" , and I have been doing just that. All the same, I was
conscious of having disappointed the contributors to the 1994
Grothendieck search, and still kept alive the hope of eventually going
over to France for that purpose.
Then in 2000 I received an E-mail message from a London-based
editor, Harvey Shoolman. Among other things, Harvey is the managing
director of the British Academy Isaac Newton project. In this E-letter he
described the Newton project:
ÒÉ.. a vast scholarly undertaking to produce a printed
edition of the (eventually)complete Newton opus. We are beginning with
the vast unpublished manuscript archives in theology and alchemy....as
you know Isaac Newton spent most of his time on this material rather
than the mathematics and dynamics. A team of over 40 international
scholars are transcribing the mss and providing detailed scholarly
annotation. Eventually we intend to put this free on the web.....
Through the Newton Project, Harvey became interested in 20th
century mathematics. By typing the name "Grothendieck" into Internet
search engines, he soon uncovered the advertising for my "Quest for
Grothendieck" series written up in Ferment in the early 90's. A
correspondence ensued; this led to a meeting over lunch in a North
Indian restaurant on the Lower East Side of New York. Harvey,
connoisseur of London's world renowned Indian restaurants, assured
me that the food was not very good.
He may be correct; we both agreed that the service was terrible. However
we did manage to speak
for over an hour: on the agenda were an AG biography; given that the
biographies of his parents are more fascinating than any fiction, this
would involve more than a century of European history; a conference
based on his life and work; translations of his mathematical opus,
political writings and memoirs "Recoltes et Semailles " and " La Clé des
Songes "; and websites devoted to all these things .
By the beginning of the year 2001 , we'd gotten several
interested in support of all of these projects . Since most of them are
French or residing there at the present time, a ( very!) informal
consensus emerged that we would all meet in Paris on a certain date,
which did not come into focus as the weekend of March 10th and 11th
until a few days before I flew over there.
Touchdown at the Charles de Gaulle airport
was at 7:30 AM on
Thursday, March 8th. Although more familiar with Paris than even my
native town of Philadelphia, I managed to get thoroughly confused
and found myself wandering about outside the Gare du Nord in the
pouring rain for half an hour. The main problem, of course, was
fatigue. The slow imbibing of a café creme , ( 18 francs, double the
going price because I had to sit down) , straightened me out. By 11 AM
I was walking through the door of the Idéal Hotel on the rue de Trois
Bornes in the 11th Arrondisement.
The room had been reserved and paid for by Leila Schneps,
algebraic geometer at the University of Paris , and passionate
Grothendieck enthusiast: it was her timely grant that eliminated the
final hurdle to my attendance at the meeting.
The next morning, Friday , March 9th I set out to find Leila
her co-worker and ex- , Pierre Lochack. Their offices were listed as
being at the Jussieu science faculty , a bewildering collection of many
medieval towers spread out like rooks on a lunar landscape. After
numerous inquiries I discovered that the tower in which all the
mathematical thinking at U -Paris had been concentrated, was
completely gutted. All that remains are locked doors, corridors filled
with rubbish and empty classrooms. The new headquarters are at 175
rue de la Chevaleret
( Metro Chevaleret) about two miles away, a labyrinth of buildings
loosely connected by unreliable corridors. After many false starts and
visits with informative secretaries, Leila and Pierre were discovered,
pacing back and forth in the throes of intense mathematization, in the
Algebraic Geometry unit on the 7th floor of Batiment A .
The 3 of us sat around in Leila's office talking about what we
wanted to accomplish at the upcoming meeting. The people involved
were ( 1-3 ) ourselves; (4) Harvey Shoolman coming over from London,
(5) mathematics historian Alain Herreman, and (6) Colin McLarty,
chairman of the philosophy department at Case Western University.
Before coming to Paris IÕd learned about a biography written by
Hanka Grothendieck, AlexandreÕs mother. There was a photocopy of it
in PierreÕs office. He went to get it and returned bearing a pile of 16
volumes holding two thousand or more pages! Evidently the writing of
immense biographical memoirs is a family tradition. The biography,
crudely typed, is in German.
For us the interest lay in the last two volumes in which she speaks
about meeting and marrying Alexandre 's father, Sasha (Alexander)
Shapiro. AG grew up in the anarchist circles of Berlin between 1928
and 1939. Desperately poor, hounded by the police, moving from loft to
warehouse without any fixed address, Hanka Grothendieck ( AG's last
name comes from his mother, his first from his father) wrote for an
anarchist journal called "Der Pranger " ( The Pillory ), which also
carried contributions by Emma Goldman, Karl Kraus, and another ,
more famous Alexander (Sanya ) Shapiro. The biographies of the two
Alexander Shapiros intersect in so many places that there must have
been a co-mingling of their life stories. The fascinating problem of
untangling them may tax our resources for some time.
Several ÒBourbakiÓ events, seminars
and retrospectives, were
scheduled over the week at the Institut Henri Poincaré , the math-
physics faculty near the Luxemburg Gardens where I enrolled in 1969.
On the next day, Saturday, a seminar was scheduled to let out 3:30.
Pierre and I arranged to meet with Harvey Shoolman and Colin
McLarty, then drive us back to the rue de la Chevaleret where Leila
would join us.
Colin is chairman of the philosophy department at Case
University. From the study of toposes he became interested in étale
cohomology , and through that, all of AG's work . Recently, Colin
has become fired up with the ambition to write a biography of AG, to
cover both the complex and fascinating details of his life, his vast
mathematical output, and its impact on the rest of mathematics.
Settled in once again at Leila's office, the
5 of us brain-stormed
for almost 5 hours on AG's genius, personality, present whereabouts
and biography; the fascinating problems surrounding Sasha Shapiro's
identity and career as a very active anarchist in Russia, Belgium,
Germany, France and Spain; the relationship of AG's research to
mathematics; his quarrels with Deligne, Thom, Dieudonné , Serre,
indeed with every one of his colleagues ; how to located articles written
by Hanka in the 20's, and so on.......
At 8 we decided to continue the conversation at an
restaurant, about a mile away ,though still in the 13th Arrondisement.
There we were joined by Alain Herreman. Alain is producing a
Ôsemiotic investigationÕ of AGÕs mathematical discourse. As the History
of Mathematics appears to be treated with undisguised contempt by
the French academic world, ( he told us that all historians in the
mathematics department entitle themselves 'mathematicians' to protect
their right flank) , he has no university post but works on grants from
the CNRS ( French equivalent of the NSF), and teaches in a lycee.
Even as we consumed the dinner
our exhilarating high-level
chatter consumed the time . Bowing to HarveyÕs insistence that we try
to concentrate on issues related to AG, approximately 7 projects were
eventually filtered out :
(1) Putting all of AG's writings in mathematics, both published
and unpublished, on the Web. Various possibilities suggest themselves;
there was general if not unanimous agreement that photographing
images, rather than scanning or typing everything in by hand, was the
best way to begin. A mathematician named William Stein, at Harvard, has begun
doing something of this sort.
(2) Putting Recoltes et Semailles
on the Web. A small excerpt,
translated into Russian, is already there . Mainstream publishers have
refused to touch it: the publisher Odile Jacob for example, will only
publish the first 400 pages provided that all the real names are replaced
by fictitious ones.
(3) Translating Recoltes et Semailles into English.
(4) Translating all of AG's work in mathematics,
(5)Transcribing and/or publishing the work
since he abandoned of mathematics in the 1970's. In 1995 he made a
present of these to Jean Magloire, with permission to do whatever he
wanted with them.
(6) Colin's biography project, to which we will all contribute.
(7) A historical retrospective conference honoring
AG. This is last
on the list at the present moment, given the problems of holding such a
conference while its subject is still alive and non-communicado.
Now Harvey is out looking for grants. He's somewhat
of me since he's worried that my 'bohemian' perspective on the world
of ideas may not sit well with the starchy institutions that give grants
for scholarly projects. On the other hand, Leila is all for putting my
"Quest for Grothendieck" on the Web right away! Not everyone
appreciates the credibility of wandering fiddle-playing as the means for
uncovering the whereabouts of a great mathematician.
When I left on March 17th, Colin was still in France,
places important to AG's life history. Among them is the village of Le
Chambon , where he and his mother were protected from the Nazis
throughout the Occupation. This village is quite famous; under the
leadership of the protestant priest Andre Trockmé , it saved the lives of
thousands of persons. One can read about it in the documentary "Lest
Innocent Blood Be Shed", by Phillip Hallie
In the previous issue of Ferment it was stated that I'd only
received one article on the topic of education, but that someone else
had promised to send me an article . That article has been received,
though not quite in the form IÕd expected. Bowing to the authorÕs
evident wish, he shall remain anonymous:
Much embarrassed, I must retract my offer to supply an
article, even anonymously , to FERMENT. After our talk
last night, I experienced the queasy feeling that I may have
made a bad decision for myself. In short, my views on
education are so well known ( read notorious) in this
community, that the anonymous author of my article might
reveal himself inferentially, even through the grapevine.
During this first half of my tenure-review period, IÕve
received several signals from on high that IÕm being
ÒwatchedÓ. Should the unthinkable happen, IÕd end up in
an unthinkable situation.
In any case, please accept my sincere apologies for
no doubt seems a cowardly act. I would have been honored
to be published in FERMENT, but this is 2001.
I am consoled that there will indeed be another issue of
FERMENT and look forward to reading of your recent trip
An article in the form of a poem, has been received from
poet, playwright and emeritus professor of creative letters at Wesleyan
Whatever the lesson was
she found herself with class-time
remaining, and thirty kids
to be kept ( at least ) amused.
The warm, varnished-pine school-room
striped with chalk-moted sunrays
was restless with turning heads
as text-books and minds were closed.
She was a youngish woman,
bright Ðeyed, and often smiling
in that depressed, war-time place;
I was a thirteen-year old,
as useless as tangled string,
for all my ÒpromiseÓ and ÒbrainÓ.
Her favorite, nonetheless: -
she looked my way when she smiled.
She began to talk about
punishment: the leather strap-
every teacherÕs last recourse-
still used throughout the high school,
what did we think? Hands shot up
cleaving the sunrays, where motes
swirled whitely. She held the class
close in her kind, clever rule.
A much-strapped lout said his dad
thought it was scandalous; his pal
swore it made you sore all day;-
everyone clamoured to speak.
I saw and watched the motes swirl,
and fade - as the sunrays did,
leaving the hullabaloo
and the wall-clock's jerky tick.
The teacher looked round the room.
Is there anyoneÓ, she said
through my chalk-dusty daydream,
who's never had the strap? No
hands were raised, then my hand slid
upwards. Her smile was the same
as ever, clever and warm;
she raised one kindly eyebrow.
So you've never had the strap?
she asked incredulously;
In all your schooldays never ?
I nodded. The sun came out,
striping the air again. My
goodness! she said. Well, just step
to the front, Mr. Connor
she liked me, I have no doubt.
Now, hold your hand out, she said.
Hardly free of my day-dream,
I felt the strap's stinging slam
across my stretched-out fingers,
Motes swirled. The bell rang ÒHometimeÓ.
I stood there with my lesson Ð
whatever the lesson was.
Take Back Education
By Jacqueline Grace
In this article I will use the word ÔeducationÕ in
ways. When I use the word or one of its derivatives without quotes, I
mean it in the old sense: An educated person is one who has read and
thought about the wisdom of the ages. A person who has an education
may or may not have obtained it at schools or colleges. When I use the
word ÒeducationÓ, I refer to a bureaucracy that has sprung up in the
past forty years or so. This bureaucracy controls the licensing of public
school teachers and corrupts their educations by turning them into
Before I begin my rant, let me tell you who I am : IÕm
a cowgirl in
my heart, an intellectual and a democrat by early childhood training,
and a mathematician by education. I make my modest $33,000 per year
by my modest wits: I teach mathematics. IÕve been a salaried non-
professor at a branch of the State University of New York for nigh unto
12 years. During my tenure at SUNY New Paltz, I have taught some 100
classes, at least a third of which were specifically aimed at future
elementary and high school teachers. IÕve even written a book for the
geometry course for elementary teachers that IÕve taught umpteen
My thoughts about what future teachers need to know about
geometry have been prolonged, if not deep. Geometry is huge ( just
geometry Ð forget for a moment about the gigantic remainder of
mathematics). Geometry is part of our very psyches. We are able to walk
erect because we maintain perpendicularity to our spherical perch in
space. The principles of carpentry and surveying from which the study
of geometry probably sprang may be older than history.
I try to include the practical, the sublime and the historical in my
classes in geometry for elementary teachers. There is much knowledge
to impart and little time in which to do it. My course is very full.
Recently IÕve come up with a vivid image of how I would
students to turn out.
But first I must tell you who my students are. I can easily put
them in three categories:
(1) The Men. For awhile I was amazed and chagrined (since
female) to find that my male students in geometry for elementary
teachers, though they comprise only about one tenth of my students,
were almost always at the tops of my classes. In other math courses I
have found that men and women perform pretty much the same. Not in
this course! IÕve since made the conjecture about the reason for this
male superiority: a man who chooses to become an elementary teacher
has, first of all, made a real choice and not just fallen into the field for
lack of a better idea.
Second, he has made an unusual choice. This
makes him, I believe, surer of his vocation as a teacher, as well as
making him more inclined to show that his unconventionality is
warranted by his performance. I donÕt worry about men in my classes.
Rather, I often depend on them to ask questions and show enthusiasm.
(2) The Moms. These are women in the twenties, thirties, forties
and occasionally in their fifties who are returning to college in the hopes
of beginning first or second careers as teachers. The moms are the equals
of the men in their competence and enthusiasm. If all my students were
men or moms, I wouldn't be writing this article.
(3) The Coeds. Although many of the young women in my classes
who are fresh out of high school are excellent students for whom
choosing a teaching career has been a carefully considered decision,
these are in the minority. The typical coed in one of my classes has
chosen "education" as her major precisely because she thinks it will be
an easy major. In particular, she doesn't like math, and doesn't see why
she has to take it in order to teach in elementary school.
My guess is, that whether she is conscious of it or not, she doesn't
really believe that
she has to learn anything at all in order to become a grade school
teacher. This idea took root in her mind, I believe, when she was in
grade school and her teachers, products of "education" colleges
themselves, didn't like math and didn't know much else either.
The basis I use to question myself about whether I am succeeding
with my typical coed "education" major is this: Could she fill the
schoolmarm role in a western movie?
I imagine the new schoolteacher alighting from the stagecoach,
travel-weary but perky. She has one suitcase, a prim but dusky
demeanor and her eastern education. What, I ask myself, would she
have been able to do in geometry?
Well, there would probably be an old lawyer in town ( or a
banker or an engineer) who would invite her for tea or sherry, perhaps
for educated conversation or perhaps to discuss a case. She would need
to hold her own discussing Euclid, Euler and Gauss, axioms and
theorems, logic and proofs; i.e., she should have some knowledge of the
history of geometry and of its purely theoretical aspects.
I can imagine the townsfolk coming to her with practical
questions. How long should the rafters on the barn be if the height of
the roof is six feet and the width is thirty feet? How many cubic yards
of concrete should we order for the garage floor? She would need to
have some facility with the many applications of geometry.
And, most importantly, there would be the students she teaches:
the future lawyers, physicians, engineers , and ....teachers. Above all,
she would need to have something to impart to them. She would need
to have some depth in her knowledge. She would need to be educated.
( And, oh my friends, the coeds in my class do sorely need to be
educated; I say this from vast experience.)
Of course I never feel as if I am sending my coeds out fully
educated in geometry, but I have the schoolmarm image and I work
Mathematics, art, literature, theater, history, philosophy, religion:
these are OLD. These fields represent what education is about. They are
gigantic stacks of accumulated knowledge added to by generation after
generation since the dawn of Education. If we have education for any
reason, whether it is education for the elite or education for the masses,
we have it to pass on accumulated knowledge.
The hard sciences - physics, chemistry, even biology and geology
and the somewhat softer sciences - psychology, sociology, economics,
political science - all of these are also rather old and therefore have
accumulated reservoirs of knowledge which are available and necessary
to convey to future teachers so that they, in turn, can convey at least
some of this knowledge to their students.
Even courses in say "Art and Schizophrenia", or "Slavery and
Music", or "Economics and the Fall of the Berlin Wall", or "Aids and the
Theater", or "Female Entrepreneurs of Upstate New York", or even "
The Literature of Minnesota Sado-Masochistic Lesbians" - any of these
could qualify as reasonable electives for future teachers in the 21st
Knowledge is rampant. There is much, perhaps too much, for
future teachers to learn. Taking into account that many of the future
teachers of America have learned very little up until the time they begin
to sit in college classes, we college teachers have quite a responsibility.
The fact that many, perhaps most, of my students don't know
much when I first encounter them is related to the curricula which they
are forced to follow for their majors. My students' inadequate public
school teachers followed the same curricula in college . In fact, from the
time when my students were in grade school until the present, the
number of "education" courses which future teachers are required to
take has increased.
My students have to spend an entire semester
taking nothing but "education" courses. It's called their "professional
semester". Don't ask me what they "learn" in these "education" courses;
I've never been able to sit through one. But, whatever it is they are
"learning", it isn't making them good teachers. That is easily seen by
looking at the current state of America's public schools.
There is a modest place for "education" departments at
universities. Progress has been made in the study of learning disabilities
during the past few decades and it seems reasonable for a future teacher
to take one course in special education.
Testing at all levels could become the other specialty of "education"
departments. Let them figure
out, without being too obnoxious about it and spoiling their samples,
whether grade school, high school and college students are learning
what they need to learn - what we, the older generation of historians,
philosophers and literati want them to learn.
A future teacher's
education would be enhanced by a course in educational testing and
statistics. Unless she plans to devote herself to the learning disabled
when she becomes a teacher, she should be required to take at most
two education courses. The remainder of her college time should be
spent in the all-important pursuit of knowledge.
She could, if she feels the need and if she is willing to spend
extra semester in college, elect to devote a semester to student teaching
in the public schools. This need'nt be a requirement, however. A year of
internship ( which would not be included as part of her college
curriculum) for the teacher-to-be at the beginning of her career would
be just as good. This internship option would also enable educated
people who don't have "education' degrees to more easily become
Such people are now badly needed in the public schools,
because there is a shortage of teachers and because the schools are
presently being stifled by frightened and small-minded "education"
bureaucracies. The classrooms of our country would benefit from
opening up the windows and doors and letting the sweet breezes of
fresh perspectives and unconventional ideas blow through.
Teaching is a noble profession. One becomes a teacher only if
is educated. One becomes educated by reading, thinking about and
studying the wisdom of the ages. It's as simple as that.
Teaching is not for everyone. Those coeds who are thinking about
their nail polish colors and looking for an easy major should probably
go into marketing or communications and leave the teaching field to the
people who find knowledge valuable.
If we as a society are too tired or bored or stupid to get educated,
starting with our teachers, if we are too lazy to take back education,
then we are one step closer to an Orwellian state when justice means
coercion, love means torture and education means ignorance.
For the sake of brevity, Alexandre will often be referred to
as "AG" .
which is not the millennium because our calendar should properly begin with the birth
of Socrates, a well documented philosopher, rather than Christ, a largely legendary one.
Someone must have remarked at some point in the last 4 centuries, that the irresistible
appeal of Paris lies in the fact that, block by block, it is the most 'user friendly' city on the
An alternative, more fundamental, formulation of set theory
invented by AG
There are many ÒcohomologiesÓ in modern mathematics. I am familiar with de Rham
cohomology , relating integration to topology. Barry Mazur, a first class contemporary
mathematician, has stated that it took him 10 years to understand etale cohomology.