Visiting a school for disabled boys, the future Princess Diana singles out wheelchair-bound Alex to dance with—a five-minute encounter that colors the rest of his life, though quickly forgotten by her. Alex, a survivor of severe school bullying, thinks constantly of the tall girl with blue eyes—until one day he sees her on television, the new fiancée of Prince Charles. Alex’s story interweaves with Diana’s final day before her fatal accident in the late summer of 1997. In the unsatisfying company of her billionaire boyfriend she careens from one luxurious, alien Paris location to another, tormented by paparazzi. All day she tries to reach a friend in London, hoping to hear news that will bring a new direction to her life.
The Crazy Thing tries to respond to this endless question. It is a love story entwined with a philosophic quest. Beginning from the question about dying it goes on to explore some ways in which it might be possible to begin over again, and perhaps still learn how to live ‘somewhere near the end.’ The Crazy Thing is a memoir with three themes: the story of the author’s long love affair with the poet Celestine Frost; the drama of his enigmatic calling as an artist, writer, and thinker; and his lifelong search for the incalculable limits of the self.
The Crazy Thing is a work in progress, whose outcome is yet to be known. This first small volume will be followed by several more. It contains an invitation to the reader to post their questions, comments, and refutations regarding the book’s conclusions on a website — thecrazything.net. The author will take into account the most pertinent of those challenges to his understanding as he composes the subsequent installments. In the end, the book will be a work of collaboration between the author and the community it creates.
The Crazy Thing is an artist’s book, composed of drawings, photographs, and fragments of text. The fragments describe events from the author’s past, which alternate with journal entries from the present, in which the old man confronts the younger man he once was. The book is made up of many pieces, but all of them point to one conclusion — the picture of a man in search of his full stature.
As for the Crazy Thing itself no one can tell what it is. It is the X-factor that can’t be named because it is not a thing among the things of the world. Nor is it a power. Anyone may feel its inexplicable influence, but they will search in vain for the cause. The Crazy Thing is present only in its absence.
Listen carefully and you may hear it sweeping the top of the sky clean.
Carl Lehmann-Haupt is a writer, artist, and designer.
A new work of poetry by Frederick Bauman
A sample stanza from the poem Snowy Owl:
And the snowy owl calls forth within us
The questioning that can keep us on edge
Which is the only place where we are
Alive to the present which is the dance
Of past and future through each fiber of
Our bodies which are—temporarily—
Repositories of eternity
Karina Borowicz, author of the award-winning volumes, The Bees are Waiting and Proof, will read from her latest volume and also conduct a poetry workshop on November 6, 2014. The reading will be at 7:00 P.M. in the Honors Center (SUNY New Paltz, and the workshop will be held on the same day from 2:00-3:15 in JFT 1010. Students should contact Pauline Uchmanowicz (email@example.com) to sign up for the workshop.