April 25th, 2003

Harmony of Interests


“This looks like a young professor who has not yet become disillusioned with academia,” I said.
“Yes. My early years at Harvard. This was the period in my career where making unexpected connections between disparate topics was part of my strategy to keep students involved. Or at least awake. In this instance I’d started with the economic theories of Henry Carey in the nineteenth century, then leaped forward to a contemporary study by Manfred Weidhorn entitled 'A Harmony of Interests, Explorations in the Mind of Winston Churchill.' I always expected my earnest note scribblers to be surprised to learn that Sir Winston won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953.”
I raised my eyebrow. “You’ve GOT to be kidding!”
Harold laughed . “You’re a truly funny man, James.”
“Thank you.”
“I’ve always admired that distinguished chap's wit. For instance, in a galley proof of one of his books a proofreader admonished Winston for ending a sentence with a preposition. His riposte? ‘This is the sort of impertinence up with which I will not put.’”
“These days it’s not considered an error,” I said, “since usage rules.”
“Exactly. A variation of Goebbel’s insight that a lie repeated often enough becomes accepted as fact.”
“Connections, lad.”
I looked again at the image. “I like this. May I have it?”
Harold didn’t hesitate. He gently lifted the print from its little black corner holders.
“It’s yours,” my friend said.