25 June 2012

The Meeting

The scholar and critic Cleanth Brooks probably did more than anyone else to champion a generation of Southern writers that included John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, Robert Penn Warren and, especially, William Faulkner.

In spite of their correspondence, which spanned more than half a century,Brooks and Faulkner supposedly met only once.  That meeting lasted several hours.  It is said that they did not talk about literature, or even anything else related to the arts, culture or history.  Instead, being true Southern men of their generation, they talked about fishing and 'coon hunting.

So why, you're probably asking yourself, am I mentioning these things on this blog?

Well, I found myself thinking about the story of the Brooks/Faulkner "summit" after meeting "Velouria", the author of the Lovely Bicycle! blog, during the weekend of the New Amsterdam Bike Show.

I discovered her blog--which, at the time, had been running for a few months--when I was recuperating from my surgery nearly three years ago.  I left comments on some of her posts.  An exchange of e-mails ensued and, within a year, with her encouragement, I started this blog.  (Now you know who to blame!;-))

Most of the e-mails we exchanged, interestingly enough, had little or nothing to do with cycling.  Although her upbringing, and much of her early adult life, could hardly have been more different from mine (or so it seemed), we both have had unusual (in different ways) circumstances that, I believe, have led us to see many things in ways that are very different from that of most of our peers. 

When she came to New York, we rode, albeit briefly.  And, of course, she was here for the show.  So it was natural that we talked, at least a little, about bikes and bicycling.  However, I would not say that it dominated the weekend.  Over dinner at Uncle George's and over coffee, we talked about, it seemed, everything but bikes.  I won't get into specifics, but I will say that I found the discussions stimulating because she seems able to get past the hyperbole and cant that too often passes for informed opinion, even among so-called intellectuals.  (Trust me:  I have lots of experience with them!)

You might say that my meeting with Velouria was an inverse of the one between Brooks and Faulkner:  Two men who knew each other via intellectual circles talked about sport, while two women who met via sport talked about culture--both the upper- and lower- case "C" varieties.

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