Variations On Knowing

Orchid & Guitar

I’m in a writing group called The Drunken Goats. But I don’t drink, and I haven’t seen any of my peers get too drunk. No, that’s not true. I did watch one of us get pretty fucked up at our holiday party a few years ago. He grew very affectionate with everyone, and he passed out early, with his head in someone’s lap. Before he went, though, he’d become obsessed with this sentence, the source of which no one has discovered:

The general known for sending his troops into the fray knowing full well that he would lose more of his own but with fewer overall casualties was a controversial warlord.

He must have said it a hundred times, varying the diction and syntax with each articulation, his final utterances incomprehensible because he was slurring:

Understand, you, that she will lose women of her own but not those women she doesn’t know to send into a fray anyway, before someone brands her Controversial Warlord.

And now that I’m thinking about it, it wasn’t a he-goat (Paulo, who is a loudmouthed drunk), but a she (Maggie, who is not). And she, for her love of fine art and prosodies marked by repetition and theme & variation, and for her performance that night, called to my mind Gertrude Stein (1874-1946). Put another way: The goat who drank the most was like a High Modernist.