While Susie and I were in Seattle for the wedding of my son's wife's brother, we stayed at an upscale hotel that delivered a copy of the NY TIMES to our door every morning. So it was that I came across the Op Ed column by Gail Collins, one of my very favorite columnists, in last Saturday's edition. Her Op Ed was a celebration of the anniversary of Women's Suffrage, and at one point, Collins wrote, "Sometimes I fantasize about traveling back in time and telling my historical heroes and heroines how well things worked out in the end." I stopped dead in my tracks, because that is one of my favorite fantasies. In my case, it is composers and philosophers whom I would like to visit. I imagine myself returning to eighteenth century London to see David Hume. Hume, as all Hume scholars know, published A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE anonymously when he was still in his twenties, and it got lambasted by the reviewers. Much later in life, Hume wrote, wryly, that the book "fell stillborn from the presses." I just would like to tell him, face to face, that it is now considered the greatest work of philosophy ever written in the English language.
Then there is Mozart. I imagine myself magically transported to the court of Emperor Joseph II [and also blessed with a perfect command of colloquial German, but never mind that]. I introduce myself as a visitor from the twenty-first century, and inform him that in that far distant future, he is well remembered. As he preens himself, I add, "because of your association with a young man who is in this very room." Then I turn and say, "and that young man is the immortal composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart." After that, I pull out a battery operated CD player with great sound reproduction and slip in a CD of the Emerson String Quartet playing one of Mozart's Haydn quartets [being careful not to play something he hasn't yet composed.]
Well, you get the idea. Anybody want to join the fantasy?