Paul Violi

Resorting to Anecdote

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I was just looking back at Hilbert's NC3 opener where he mentions Lewis and Marinetti arguing at a urinal, and wonder where the source of that can be found and what they were arguing about. It has the makings of a one-act not-on-a-full-bladder play. On the theme of modernism and urination, ever hear the one about T.E. Hulme who, acting affronted when confronted by a cop while taking a leak in a park, said, "Do you realize you are addressing a member of the middle class?" The cop apologized and let him go. Ah, anecdotes...often tiresome material for a poem, so I often avoid them, and explaining a joke is of course lethal, but there's something about that French joke in "Resorting to Anecdote" that always intrigued me: I love it but don't fully understand why. A lot of humor is ultimately--and thankfully inexplicable; nevertheless, I thought I'd run it by Charles North, Justin Jamail (absent that evening, hence the e-mail), Michael Davis, and Tony Towle--whom I meet regularly for dinner. All very astute, they were of absolutely no help.