Intellectual Pursuits

“No man’s land…does not move…or change…or grow old…remains…forever…icy…silent”. ~Hirst from No Man’s Land by Harold Pinter

No man’s land is unoccupied land, usually due to territorial disputes between two parties. Because of the uncertain political/legal standing, it’s left empty and isolated.

The title, No Man’s Land, warns you of what’s ahead as you sit in eager anticipation of seeing Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen perform. Harold Pinter’s work is a strict discipline of Existentialism. Two aged men sit and walk around a well-appointed room drinking Scotch. In rapt attention I soaked up the mysterious lines as I watched the masters, Stewart and McKellen, banter and parlay words like two Wimbleton tennis champions. I especially appreciated the understated and underplayed Hirst that first appears in the play. While McKellen’s Spooner volubly blathered on like a hanger-on who was trying just too hard, Stewart’s Hirst stood silently, but his silence spoke volumes about his disdain for Spooner. What’s not spoken comes across far more strongly than what is said.

Like all existentialist and absurdist works, the audience is left wondering what is happening and what just happened. This review captures the experience. When the curtain dropped at the end, Ben turned to me bewildered, “What happened?”

“I’m not sure,” I frankly admitted.

We discussed the play in length as we went home. We speculated whether the whole play was the imagination or dream of a mad man, or Spooner became enmeshed in Hirst’s mind games, or whether both were culpable of the strange logic. No Man’s Land left a strong impression on us because we continued to have a lively discussion about it for a couple days afterward. In the play, Briggs, one of the other characters, tells a story of how he met Foster (another character) by giving convoluted directions to a pub, where the trick was that once you arrived there, you could never leave. This is how I feel about this play. I arrived, but I’ll never stop mulling over small details in a futile attempt to deduce Pinter’s mind and the meaning of No Man’s Land.

Yesterday we went to Museum of Food and Drink (MoFAD)’s Roundtable discussion on NYC soda regulation. I first heard about MoFAD during their presentation of Boom! during Summer Streets.  Ben and I are on different sides of the debate. I think having regulation on portion control for soda is good public policy, whereas Ben is an advocate for fewer government regulation. The debate had four panelists, a nutrition professor, an economist, a libertarian, and a coalition leader on hunger, who represented different views on this issue. You can listen to the debate here on Heritage Radio.

The fun of living in New York City is not just in the usual things you think about with living in a big city (e.g., museums) or the stereotypes of the NYC livings (e.g., boozy brunch, Broadway, fine restaurants), but it’s with all the wonderful intellectual and artistic events. I love being surrounded by smart and creative people who help make this otherwise maddening and frustrating city of heavy crowds and high prices, into an energetic and vibrant city that stimulates your senses. I balance my fast paced life in NYC with good health, good food, and good experiences to feed my mind and soul.

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I want to acknowledge how great Ben was this evening. We had a lively grease fire in our oven today. I was sitting on our couch when I turned my head to look in the kitchen. I saw  bright dancing flames in the oven and I screamed, “Fire!” Ben immediately leaped into and took care of it by calmly smothering the flames. I was completely useless because I had no idea what to do. I ran away from the kitchen because seeing the flames freaked me out. If Ben hadn’t been here, I really don’t know what would have happened. I was really grateful and appreciative that he took care of the emergency. When I thanked him, he said, “This is why they pay me at work – to take care of emergencies.”

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