This week’s column is a letter written from the point of view of renowned physicist Albert Einstein, based on the play, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, and addressed to David Fontana.
Dear Mr. Fontana:
I am currently sitting in a bar in Paris (France that is) called the “Lay Pin Age Isle,” I believe. My French is a bit rusty, but I’m pretty sure it means “Le Tired Frenchman,” in translation. It’s a warm place with a very strange bunch of characters, although one could see how they might be confused with pretty nice folks. I am waiting here to meet a woman, but I can’t help but write to you with some concern.
As a theorist, I can’t help but think that there is as much of a chance of you writing an intelligent column accidently, as there is in you writing an intelligent column on purpose. And your chance is slim.
But where are my manners, my name is Albert Einstein (yes, poofy hair and all).
Upon first reading your column, I never thought the 21st century would be handed to me so casually, typed out in ink on pieces of paper, tools thousands of years old, waiting for someone to move them in just this way. But as you continued with your “manifestos,” I thought, “There you go, 10 more opinions. I wonder how many opinions the world can hold? A billion? A trillion?”
Where is your raison d’etre? Where is your retention of vision? Where is your E-shaped pie?
When I read your columns now, all I see is sheep. And there are two subjects in writing that no one will buy: One is Jesus, and the other is sheep.
Observe how your sheep are painted small, consumed by the weather and the terrain. For me, it’s the meaning that gives it value, and when I read your columns I feel like I am reaching my hand forward hundreds of years, only to grab a glass of bad wine. And at the good wine price! My metaphor may be a little curved, but what I’m trying to say is, “Maybe you’re an idiot savant, and hold the savant.”
I’m not saying you need to start wearing a dunce cap. No, we reserve those for the truly idiotic men — “Schmendi” men as we say in German. But you see, I work the same way. I make the beautiful things with a pencil. I had already published my “Special Theory of Relativity” at the age of only 25 (though I may have looked 86). My God, man, put down the daguerreotype and pick up a digital camera!
Although I am a scientist, sometimes I feel like I am an opinion columnist. At night, the stars in my head come out, and I write them down. This is the second decade of the 21st century. Yet, you are just writing around like a rudderless firework.
Like your columns, my theories must be beautiful. You know why the sun doesn’t revolve around the earth? Because the idea is not beautiful enough. If you’re trying to prove that the sun revolves around the earth, in order to make the theories fit the facts, you have to have the planets moving backwards, and the sun doing loop-the-loops. Too ugly. Way ugly. Kind of like your columns.
A few have thought that I just got into this science in order to meet a lot of girls. But I tell you, I am in the business of changing the century. And you, Mr. Fontana, are in this business, too.
Now, here’s the way I see it. We’re not so much going to change the century, as bend it. There is another man in this bar here named Pee-queso (I believe that is Spanish for “Cheese fermented in urine”). Let’s say Pee-queso here is a genius. The century is just flying along in space and it whizzes by Pee-queso here and picks up speed and flings itself on in a new direction, like a comet veering left at the sun. The century is just zigzagging along, bending and curving, influenced by the powerful gravity of people like Pee-queso. But the century itself, because we’re in it, appears to be heading straight.
What I have just said is the fundamental, end-all, final, not subject to truth, absolute opinion! Depending on where you’re standing.
Just think of this column as an icebox epiphany. You don’t get it now, but an hour later you’re at home, standing in front of the icebox, and you “Epiphany!” And maybe you laugh, too.
You must think bigger! If you commit yourself to your art, maybe one day people will be crowding in a smoky cabaret to hear the writing styling of David Fontana — appearing nightly with the Kentucky Men — writing columns as pretty as summer dresses — writer’s hands going into writer’s hands.
Did you see that? A shooting star! It may be impossible to distinguish two bodies unified in a field, but you’ll hit the horizon and burn white. Whoosh!
So unlock the cat door, and explore your fourth dimension!
Although we never meet, like the roots of the sequoia, grabbing deep into the earth, the opinions we have said here tonight will lace themselves irrevocably throughout your century!
A concerned reader,
David Fontana is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences and a weekly columnist for The Daily Free Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.