Sunday, October 12, 2008

No center

Piet Mondrian-Broadway Boogie Woogie (Dutch 1942)

I have long held that The New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle is nothing but a Thursday puzzle on juice. All water weight, it lacks the treachery and sophisticated wordplay of a Friday or Saturday. With their monosyllabic clues and answers that run from horizon to horizon those Friday and Saturday puzzles are diabolical, and carry the engagement of strongly crafted poetry. So I see no reason that anyone should waste a perfectly good Sunday morning prostrating himself before that thing. But folks do. I suppose it beats the shit out of church, where as a child I would draw pencil-in timecharts--which come to think of it resembled the handless clocks of dreams, to mark off the five minute increments til those liberating words, "God go with you" or "God be with you"...or whatever.

The Sunday puzzle is a keystone in the awkward maze of the paper. I never cared for Sundays, and I certainly never felt the secular peace liberal intellectuals describe in connection with the day and its enormous newspaper. I prefer drinking coffee while pacing a floor, puzzles standing up, like labyrinths, and croissants almost never.

That said, there is some convenience to 'The Way We Eat' appearing adjacent to the puzzle in the Sunday Magazine. Oh, and you usually get an article length real estate advertisment for Qatar or the Phillipines, replete with testimonials from investment bankers and the vice president.  These countries figure if you like food, and if you like puzzles you're a shoe-in to like them.  What utter desperation.

How did all of this start? Oh yeah, I was looking at a picture of Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie and was sort of startled by the ingenuity of it. Mondrian is one of those artists who, I think, always worked better on a conceptual level. His paintings aren't really about apparent beauty, are they. It reminded me of something the novelist and ardent Christian, C.S. Lewis once said about atheists, that their world is like a maze without a center. No hope of achievement. But isn't the point of a maze the pure folly? Unless you're a mouse and there's cheese at the center there really is no point. Even then hunger compels you to the center, and what compels you out?  The feeling of being had, of being a fool for cheese!  You get to the center and you are, geographically speaking, as fucked as you could possibly be. So it goes with the world, and puzzles. 

I feel better already.

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