The world outside my condo building is an unbroken sheet of ice, so the NY TIMES was not delivered this morning, and of course I did not go walking, all of which has left a good deal of time for less worthy pursuits than the daily crossword puzzle. Gail Collins has a column today [that I can read on line -- not the puzzle, which would cost me extra and I hate paying for things on line]. At one point she says this: "Did you ever fantasize about being able to go back in time and tell people from the past what’s going to happen in the 21st century? I like to envision telling Vincent van Gogh how much his paintings will be selling for. Or I inform George Wallace that he never gets to be president, but a black guy does."
I have that fantasy all the time. My favorite is somehow going back to the court of Emperor Joseph II, where I tell him that he is famous 250 years later -- as someone who briefly served as a patron of the young musician Mozart. Then I travel a bit further back in time to tell Bach that the Mass in B Minor, which was never performed in his lifetime, is, three centuries later, considered a transcendently great piece of music. After that trip I go back to London to tell David Hume that his youthful Treatise of Human Nature, which he disavowed following the attacks by James Beattie, is far and away the greatest work of philosophy ever written in the English language. And for one last trip back in time, I visit the sports editor of the Boston Globe to assure him that the curse of the Bambino will be lifted, and the Red Sox will indeed once again win a World Series.
It is going to be a long winter.