Bashevis Singerís Spinoza of Market Street fraai samengevat

Richard Gunderman schreef een schitterend stuk (die man kan schrijven!) over hoe de grote natuurwetenschapper Paul Dirac, een van de ontwerpers van de kwantummechanica en jongste theoretisch natuurkundige Nobelprijswinnaars ooit, als volledig emotionele stoethaspel de menselijke liefde ontdekte. Mooi om te lezen [cf.]

De opening van zijn stuk haal ik hier naar binnen, daar het zo’n mooie samenvatting is van Bashevis Singer’s verhaal “Spinoza of Market Street” waarmee hij het leven van Dirac vergelijkt. Het verhaal dat uiteraard ook te vinden is in mijn blog over Isaac Bashevis Singer, maar hier zoveel fraaier en korter wordt verwoord, past mooi bij de voorbije blogs over de ban van Spinoza. In dit verhaal gaat het ook over iemand die verbannen werd, maar wiens ban opgeheven kon worden, nadat hij de lichamelijke liefde had ontdekt:

One of the great short stories of the 20th century is Nobel Laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer’s The Spinoza of Market Street. It tells of an aged scholar who has devoted his life to the study of Spinoza’s great work, Ethics. Protagonist Dr Fischelson has lost his library job and, like his hero, been expelled from his religious community for his heretical views. Looking down from his garret with disdain at the crowded street below him, he devotes his days to solitary scholarship. At night he gazes up through his telescope at the heavens, where he finds verification of his master’s wisdom.

Then one day Dr Fischelson falls ill. A neighbor, an uneducated “old maid,” nurses him back to health. Eventually, though the good doctor never understands exactly how or why, they are married. On the night of the wedding, after the unlikeliest of passionate consummations, the old man gazes up at the stars and murmurs, “Divine Spinoza, forgive me. I have become a fool.” He has learned that there is more to life than the theoretical speculations that have preoccupied him for decades.

The history of modern physics boasts its own version of Fischelson. His name was Paul Dirac. I first encountered Dirac in physics courses, but was moved to revisit his life and legacy through my service on the board of the Kinsey Institute for the Study of Human Sexuality and teaching an undergraduate course on sexuality and love. [hier de rest van een werkelijk schitterend verhaal…]