Sep. 24, 1998

Moderation is not a Negation of Intensity, But Helps Avoid Monotony

by John Tagliabue


Today's Reading: "Moderation is Not a Negation of Intensity, But Helps Avoid Monotony" by John Tagliabue from NEW AND SELECTED POEMS 1942-1997, published by the National Poetry Foundation, University of Maine.

It's the birthday of F. SCOTT FITZGERALD, born in 1896, St. Paul. He wrote his first novel, The Romantic Egotist, in just a few weeks time right before heading to boot camp — convinced he was going to die in WWI. The war ended before he shipped out, so he re-worked the novel. When it came out in 1920, titled This Side of Paradise, it made him famous overnight. Dorothy Parker saw Fitzgerald and his bride Zelda riding down New York's Fifth Avenue on top of a taxi just after the book was published, and she said, "Scott and Zelda both looked as though they had just stepped out of the sun. Their youth was striking." Fitzgerald made his living primarily from 160 magazine short stories. The Saturday Evening Post bought one from him in 1929 for $4,000. But we remember him mostly for The Great Gatsby, the novel written over 10 months in France during 1924.

It's the birthday of the engineer, chemist, and inventor of the neon light, GEORGES CLAUDE, 1870 in Paris. In 1910, when he was 40 years old, Claude discovered that passing an electrical current through inert gases produced light, and the neon light was born.

BOSTON'S FANEUIL HALL opened to the public on this day in 1742. It was built as a market and meeting hall by the businessman Peter Faneuil, and it became famous as the site of protests against the British before the Revolution. During the 19th century Daniel Webster addressed antislavery meetings in the hall. It's now a national historical landmark, but is still a busy market and meeting place.

It's the birthday of the British writer HORACE WALPOLE, born in 1717, London. He's remembered mostly as a letter writer: over 3,000 of them that form a kind of time capsule of 18th century British life. He wrote most of them over a 40-year stretch to his friend Horace Mann.

GIROLAMO CARDANO, the Italian physician and mathematician, was born this day in 1501, Milan. He was the first one to clinically describe typhus, and in 1545 he wrote the cornerstone book in algebra, called Great Art.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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