Friday, December 28, 2012

It depends on what the meaning of his is

Even though I make my living as a writer and editor, discussions about fine points of grammar and syntax usually make me want to go take a nap. English is a mongrel language whose rules, such as they are, often make no logical sense. 

Certain so-called rules like not splitting infinitives are pointless. Some professional editors need to be placed in an oxygen tent when they read towards instead of toward, but I discreetly roll my eyes. You find towards in books going back at least to the early years of the last century, when general literacy was in far better fettle than it is now, so why the fuss? It's false precision, like people who write 'til thinking it's short for until. But till is perfectly good English, accepted in every dictionary.

In some quarters, however, fanatics think the third-person pronoun needs to be whipped, punched, and put in its place. This does matter.

Until perhaps 30 years ago it was practically a non-issue. He and his were understood to refer to people of both sexes (not "genders," which is a grammatical term). We can argue till (or even 'til) the cows come home about whether that was "sexist," but it was how the language was constructed. 

In Latin-derived languages it never causes any problem because the pronoun takes the masculine or feminine form depending on the noun it modifies. But you also have to know the gender of every noun, easy enough if you grow up speaking the language, sometimes tough if you learn it as a second language; I still have to look up some French words to know whether to use le or la as the article, son or sa as the possessive. German is worse, with its masculine, feminine, and neuter.

So the politically correct "solution" prevalent nowadays is to write his or her. Awkward but tolerable ... if you use it once in a sentence. But that's often difficult unless you write Dick-and-Jane style. (Do schools still use Dick and Jane textbooks? I doubt it.)

Consider even a relatively simple example, from G.N.M. Tyrrell's Grades of Significance:
The world in which a man really lives depends upon the values which he has made his own; and these are not static, but change as life goes on. Call this faculty of absorbing values what you will, it is of fundamental importance in life and always has the same character. Revisit the scenes of childhood, and you will be conscious that childhood's world has vanished. Trees, houses, streets may stand in physical outline much as they did, but all are completely emptied of their one-time significance. This has vanished, and they have become filled with another. For how much does the identity of the physical framework count when the values it once bore for you have changed?

It matters far less to a cultured man that he should leave his physical surroundings and carry on his accustomed social and intellectual life elsewhere, than that he should live a totally different kind of life amongst familiar surroundings.
This isn't my idea of stylish prose. Upon is more formal but not more correct than on. Of fundamental importance would be better written fundamentally important. And bore as the past tense of bear is accurate, but has a quaint aura. (Some editors would insist which be struck out and replaced with that, a practice known in the trade as which hunting. There is a technical distinction between which and that, but to me it's a distinction without a difference.)
I would be uncomfortable writing a man in a universal sense, although in 1930 when Tyrrell cast the sentence it was conventional. Substituting a person creates no turbulence. But now apply the gender-inclusive standard and you get
The world in which a person really lives depends on the values which he or she has made his or her own ...
It matters far less to a cultured person that he or she should leave his or her physical surroundings and carry on his or her accustomed social and intellectual life elsewhere, than that he or she should live a totally different kind of life amongst familiar surroundings.
In these two examples, especially the second, the sentence flow is disturbed by speed bumps, he or she and his or her. Yes, it's comprehensible, but clumsy -- anyone with a feeling for the elegance that English is capable of has to wince a little.

The popular trend is to see off he or she in favor of their, as in, "He or she is entitled to choose, as long as their choice doesn't harm anyone else." The switch in one sentence from singular to plural is perhaps no more illogical than using he and his to mean he or she and his or her, but the former seems to me grating, especially in written language.

Many people, even those who've bothered to read this far, would probably say we have more serious problems on our hands than linguistic gender usage. I'd probably agree. But everything is related: when language is constantly twisted into grotesque shapes to suit political fashion, it is less fit for purpose as an instrument for advancing discussion, sifting ideas, or urging action. A culture can't think better than it can speak or write.

Monday, December 24, 2012

U.K. to monitor unemployed via their computers

The British social welfare establishment has an unofficial motto: "Support everybody, monitor everybody."

So we are to gather from a piece in the Telegraph.
From the beginning of next year, the unemployed will have to look for work through the Coalition's new Universal Jobmatch website or potentially risk losing their benefits.
The tracking element of the programme will not be compulsory as monitoring people's behaviour online without their consent would not be allowed under EU law.

But job advisers are able to impose sanctions such as compulsory work placements or ultimately losing benefits if they feel the unemployed are not searching hard enough.
Assuming the article is accurate -- and I wonder about a reporter who can write "potentially risk," which is redundant -- we have a typical bureaucratic diktat whose left hand is unacquainted with its right hand. Claimants must look for work through the Universal Jobmatch site (what if they don't own a computer?); their job foraging cannot be monitored "without their consent" (do they lose their benefits if they don't consent?); but "job advisers" can impose sanctions anyway.

While this social engineering scheme is far from the craziest aspect of life in soft-totalitarian U.K., it's worth noting as a typical symptom.

To begin with, The State ought not to be monitoring the actions of its citizens who have not been convicted of a crime or shown to have violated the terms of their unemployment benefits. There's no doubt that plenty of benefits collectors are fiddling the government -- taking in dole money while forgetting what work is, or even while working off the books in the underground economy. But this kind of Big Brother scrutiny is far too extreme for what in any individual case is an a priori assumption of guilt.

What makes it more egregious is that the British welfare state has created most of the behavior it seeks to prevent through prying. This is the country where any "asylum seeker" is immediately set up with benefits. Mad imams preaching death to infidels are paid to exist in more comfort than the average working Briton enjoys. A sub-working class in which no one in a family has held a job for three generations can be found throughout Her Majesty's realm.

As in overextended governments everywhere, departments and agencies and administrators can only think in terms of their designated powers, which is probably a good thing in itself, but the trouble is no one is looking at the big picture -- at least, not realistically. All bureaucratic paper shufflers can do is come up with more regulations designed to curb individuals.

Does anyone think this plan will actually be enforced on a large scale? It has all the usual hallmarks of a bone thrown to critics of the welfare system, aimed at reducing the heat on politicians. If any jobless person is actually called on the carpet to account for his lack of initiative, it will be purely as a demonstration for the press or because he has committed a thought crime, like joining the English Defence League. I would bet money no Muslim or black will ever be bothered by the authorities. That would be "racist."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Jane Monheit and the art of taking a chance on love

I saw a concert video of Jane Monheit for the first time. It was a 2004 performance at a jazz festival in Wales, of all places, released under the title Taking a Chance on Love and presumably meant as a tie-in with her album of the same name.

Monheit, in case you aren't aware of her, is a superlative singer who works in a range between jazz and old standards. I've never heard her do a single number (and I have four of her albums) that she failed to illuminate with vocal wizardry, intelligent coloration, and respect for the material she's performing. Even when she's at top volume, her voice doesn't go hard and glassy but retains a thrilling intimacy.

So I was a little taken aback to watch her do a couple of sets. If I had just listened to this concert with the picture dark, the effect would have been pretty much the same as on her albums. But someone apparently coached her into "projecting" with a lot of Broadway-ish mannerisms: her hands fluttering like a pupeteer, facial expressions ranging from A to ZZZ, roaming the stage, exhibitionistically "appreciating" the contributions of her band members, &c.

At moments I thought she was channeling Liza Minelli (although Monheit is a far superior artist).

Part of the trouble is down to the nature of videotaped concerts. Like actors, vocalists must make their gestures larger than life so that they register even on audience members far from the stage. But the camera gets in close -- in this video, often too close, I thought. Must we see tight head shots? What do they add to our enjoyment? Directors these days believe they have to "contribute" by constantly cutting from one camera angle to another, and unless you do close-ups, sometimes extreme close-ups, you soon run out of different viewpoints. You might want an ECU of a pianist's hands on the keyboard or a guitarist's on the frets, but need we count Jane Monheit's eyelashes?

I'd love to see and hear her in a small club setting, where I'll bet she knocks off the histrionics and does what she does best. And that's plenty.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The past has a new look

... on the Web.

Most people except those raised in state schools have at least some interest in history. Not to know what happened before you were born, said Cicero, is to remain forever a child. Curiosity about the past is usually satisfied, more or less, by reading books about whatever period or event interests you.

Whether written by professional historians or journalists, such accounts usually have several advantages for the reader. The author has presumably read from many sources of information. He has weighed the value of various descriptions of what happened. He has the big picture in mind and is able to put specifics into a larger whole. (All this is of course the ideal, not necessarily the reality.)

Inevitably, though, the person writing later, often long after the events, finds it hard not to inject the present into the past. Other times are seen through a contemporary sensibility -- the modern interpreter, even if she is aware of the problem, may get the facts right but have trouble understanding them as people in the past did, even when quoting or using original records.

The point is not that people who were present at historical events or lived in other times were more "correct" in their perceptions. They were just as likely biased or saw complicated situations from only one viewpoint among many. Historical writing has always had to face the problem of balancing first-hand observation with reasoned, and after-the-fact, synthesis.

But it can be intriguing to read how people described things at the time, especially in journalism, those "first drafts of history." Such accounts often include details that struck the writer as worth mentioning, but which have long since evaporated from memory.

Google Books has led the way, reproducing out-of-copyright books as well as a number of magazines that gave them permission. Google Books deserves credit for not sticking to popular or even "respectable" publications. The magazines they've made available, issue-by-issue, sometimes for decades, include not only mass market titles like Life and Popular Science, but a wonderfully bizarre selection of specialized publications: Indianapolis Monthly, American Woodworker, Vegetarian Times, Negro Digest, and Kiplinger's Personal Finance (be sure you're up to date with all the hot mutual funds of 1992!), etc.

Lately Google has been put in the shade by another site specializing in old magazines and journals, with a far wider selection. The newcomer is called simply All Periodicals, and it's a hoot. The index of titles runs from The Abolitionist (no, not from the slavery era, but March 1970 to September 1971) to Yank (1942-1945). You can search by date, from pre-1850 on.

Its proprietor Ron Unz, I learn from Wikipedia, ran for California governor in 1994 and later became publisher of The American Conservative.

Despite Unz's rare (for California) conservative leanings, his site's selection of historic magazines ranges all over the political map, from The New Masses ("Meet Some Jew-Baiters," Jan. 9, 1945) to The Freeman/Ideas on Liberty ("Seventeen Arguments Against Socialized Medicine," November 1960). You can dissolve yourself in Double Action Western (1952-1953), New Love Magazine (1949-1951), Scrutiny (1932-1963), Unknown (1939-1948), Munsey's Magazine (1894-1929 [ending ominously in October]), The Anglo-Soviet Journal (1940-1974), and many other publications luminous and obscure.

They are all PDFs, avoiding the typos caused by optical character readers, plus you can see the original typefaces, design, cartoons, and fillers.

Returning to our theme of the strange fascination of reading how subjects were treated contemporaneously: consider, for example, a piece titled "Norfolk -- Our Worst War Town" in the February 1943 American Mercury. It says:
We rode through the narrow streets of Norfolk's old red light district in a scout car. As we passed block after block of decaying two-story houses, our host, the cop, talked honestly of the headaches in handling forty thousand sailors and multiplied thousands of new shipbuilding war workers.

"Norfolk’s always been a sailor town," he explained, "and here’s how we took care of the boys up until a year ago. Wehad about four hundred prostitutes in here. They kept up the property and paid taxes on it. They weren’t allowed out of the district at night. Each
girl had to get a health certificate every week, and when a sailor came up with a disease, the Navy told us where he got it and we took the rotten apple out of the barrel. In that way we kept things under control.

"The sailors liked it that way. They could get stewed, yell and dance, then get out in the street and fight to their heart’s content. All we had to do was pick ’em up in the Navy wagons and take ’em back down to the base. If a sailor had been rolled, he gave us the address and we went back and got his money for him. It was a good system. The Navy liked it because it kept the disease rate down.The sailors liked it. And we officers liked it because we could control it that way. ...

Women,"wine," and the galloping dominoes, of course, are the principal law enforcement problems. Fashions in wars may change, but the nocturnal objectives of a twenty-year-old boy in a sailor suit remain pretty constant. Every night is Saturday night in Norfolk, because about twelve thousand sailors come to town every night.
We stood with the cop and watched them start piling out of staggering buses about five o’clock. We followed the bobbing whitecaps to the liquor store. The line was already two blocks long and the fellows up front were doing a land-office commission business on purchases they agreed to make for mates not in line.
I doubt you will become acquainted with this side of wartime Norfolk, Virginia, in any history book. Although as the man said, fashions in wars may change but not the freely detonating hormones of young sailors. I've heard from old timers that San Diego too was a wide-open town in World War II, as I suspect more than a few other military-linked cities and towns were.

Of course the article might be sensationalism or mostly fantasy. American Mercury's reputation declined by a long shout in the post-Mencken era. But it sure gives you a slightly different glance at the Greatest Generation.

Thursday, December 06, 2012


I had almost decided I would never again be inspired to write anything (except for money). But some subjects stand up and insist.

Jazz pianist and (more important, I think) group leader Dave Brubeck passed over this week at the age of 91.

I haven't had time to read the obits, but probably most will concentrate on his '50s and early '60s best-selling albums (Time Out, Time Further Out, the Carnegie Hall live set, etc.) in which Brubeck and his fellow musicians explored oddball time signatures. It's been a while since I've heard them, but I expect they would retain their fascination today. He continued to produce "out there" albums such as Jazz Impressions of Japan, exploratory without descending into mere quirkiness.

He still recorded until recently, and those discs I know are highly satisfying. Brubeck wasn't an extraordinarily virtuosic pianist, but he seemed to be the cause of greatness in others. He had superb judgment about musicians he collaborated with -- his groups were more than a sum-of-parts. Not only the best-known player, alto sax artist Paul Desmond, but less celebrated names seemed to have an instinctive rapport with Brubeck. When you can get that from people as individualistic as jazz musicians, you have accomplished something.

His career had its ups and downs over more than 50 years, but he began a great "Indian summer" period when he signed with the audiophile Telarc label in the '90s. Once again, he gathered top -- if not particularly famous -- talent. Check out, for instance, the knockout playing of altoist Bobby Militello on Late Night Brubeck and London Flat, London Sharp.

Brubeck began jazz composing in 1945, in the army in occupied Germany. His career took off during what was by any reckoning a good time for America ... another reason I will miss him, I suppose. As we approach the Abyss (not the "fiscal cliff," but a political, cultural, and moral sinkhole of darkness), Brubeck reminds us of what it was like to live in a time of alluring, not fearful, prospects.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Meditation nation

In my house are many mansions, a teacher of mankind said; and in the Formerly United States are many nations.

All around you are subcultures you know not of. These subcultures, nations in their own right, might include your co-workers or the person ahead of you in the checkout line at the grocery or even your friends.

Shortly after moving to Tucson in the late '90s I took an unofficial (no credits toward anything worldly) course in some aspect of spiritual growth, I can't remember now what. The woman who taught it lived and taught in a mobile home in the center of the city. Tucson is like that.

I was curious to get her impressions of the city, as she'd lived there awhile and I was new to it. The part of her answer I recall went something like this: "You've got survivalists who are storing goods and ammunition for Armageddon, and you've got spiritual seekers who meditate and wouldn't go near a steak. And neither group has the slightest notion they're living next to the other." That's probably how it is in your neck of the woods also.

Okay, let's talk about the meditation nation.

It takes a lot of nerve to write anything about mediation. It's esoteric. Those who know don't speak, those who speak don't know and all that. It takes a lifetime or a carton of lifetimes to understand. You need a guru, an expert to lead you.

Well I'm no guru and no expert. I'll tell you what I know or think I know. My only qualification for saying anything about meditation is that I've been doing it more or less regularly for 25 years. Full disclosure: "more or less regularly" means once or more almost every week. Not every day. According to the Meditation Rulebook, I'm off the team.

So I defer with all due respect to the experts. Except I can't quite figure out who they are.

I've read about spiritual growth for 40 years. I've met mediation teachers, gurus even. And I'm still not sure who's an expert.

It's relatively easy to determine who knows where it's at concerning fields of study related to the physical world. Medical boards are probably pretty good deciding who in their specialty is up on the state of play. Likewise whoever administers rites of the legal profession. University departments can get a handle on who knows their subject and who has the proper politically correct opinions.

But in the realm of metaphysics, what is the test? By their fruits you shall know them, I guess, but how do you determine the fruits of the teachings of a speaker on the lecture platform or the author of a book?

First things first. Why meditate at all? It is said to be good for your health, that it will make you as calm as a cow, improve your mood and your thinking, etc. Some meditation teachers leave it at that. They belong to the "seduction" school -- attract students by offering practical rewards, in the belief that meditating will gradually lead to a desire for more spiritual ends. I think this violates truth-in-advertising standards.

The ultimate aim as far as I'm concerned is to discover new and higher levels of reality. Not just new realities -- if people have their wits about them, they encounter new realities every day -- new levels of reality. You can call these increasingly spiritual realms, but you don't have to call them anything. The experience, not the label, matters.

If you read 20 books on meditation, or sit at the feet of 20 teachers, you will be given approximately 20 different sets of instructions. You will go mad if you take them all as literal and absolute.

The closest to a common denominator in meditation branding is to concentrate on something, ignoring stray thoughts and feelings. Concentrate on what? You have a wide range of choices. A mantra. Your breathing. A Tibetan mandala. A Zen koan. The image of Jesus or another revered figure. The space between your eyes. One hand clapping. And so on, and on. Some teachers say particular words have spiritual resonance. A few naughty people suggest there's not a dime's difference what you concentrate on; you could recite a series from a random-number generator.

But you have to start somewhere. Probably the best choice is one that appeals to you. If repeating a Sanskrit phrase, however holy it may once have been to devotees in India, bores you stiff then it's not a good technique for you. (It may be ideal for someone else.) A serious meditation discipline is likely to take a lot of your time and psychic energy, so you might as well not handicap yourself with a "target" that puts you off.

There's a basic problem with concentration: you can't do it. Probably not for a long time, then only at odd moments.

Your mind -- the part of it you're acquainted with -- has almost no such experience. It's like learning any skill starting from a baseline of zero. And your lower or practical mind resists the discipline as if it's a cranky child. Before you know it, again and again, you're wandering off the object of concentration. (Some teachers make a big deal about a supposed difference between concentration and meditation. To me it's a verbal quibble not worth bothering about.)


What happens after that, I have no business in saying. It is unique to each person and at best almost impossible to describe. But let me mention a couple of tendencies that can hang you up, based on my own experience, that I believe almost any long-time meditator would acknowledge.

Concentration is more a matter of letting go than forcing anything. If you're working hard at it, struggling, pushing, making demands on yourself, actively resisting distractions, all that goes against the spirit of meditation. This is a gentle path.

Second, catch yourself when the urge strikes you (probably often) to monitor your "progress" while meditating. This is when you seem to be stepping outside your concentration and asking with your ordinary consciousness, "How'm I doing?" Thinking about meditating is not meditating.

My practice has convinced me that the key to meditating is aspiration. You have to really want to know your mind and reality better. Given the commitment involved, I wouldn't start on the journey because you think you ought to meditate. If your desire is sincere, you won't be held back by technical errors. (Moral lapses are something else.) Guides in the non-physical realms will see that you get any help you need.

Finally, don't believe a word I've written here -- at least, not because I've written it. Trust God. Trust yourself. Trust God in yourself. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Wind in dry grass

This is not the end of Reflecting Light, only a metamorphosis.

When I de-accessioned political consciousness last February, it was sincere. If I have since backslid, it was because in the run-up to the recent election there seemed to be a miniature chance that at least Barack Obama could be ushered out of the flight deck, giving constitutionalists, traditionalists, and assorted reactionaries a little breathing space.

It seemed that anything I could do, even tossing electrons on a computer monitor, in aid of changing the direction of the U.S., should be done.

That temptation is finished. We are in deep waters indeed, two (or more) countries in the same geographical space. In a way it's even worse than 1860: then there was really only one issue, slavery and its extension into new states, that made us a house divided. Now we can't agree on basic principles, on what constitutes facts.

Suddenly the "s" word -- secession -- is being openly spoken. I've written several postings over at least five years suggesting that we need a constitutional amendment stating how legal and peaceful secession could take place. I'm inclined now to think that's a fantasy. For one thing, there's that geographical mash-up -- how finely can the secessionist impulse grind? States? Cities? Counties? Streets? Despite some general regional differences, people of opposite political ideologies are now often neighbors or family members.

Besides, to pass a constitutional amendment 38 states would need to ratify it. It would be asking three-quarters of the states to agree to a divorce. Impossible.

Nullification of federal overreach by individual states is slightly more realistic, but the president can order the National Guard or, I suppose if he's power-mad enough, the armed forces to crush a state.

But -- barring some circumstance I can't even imagine now -- I'm giving over political commentary on this blog, not because it's become useless (although for me it has) but because it has started to make me queasy. The U.S. political landscape is a bleached and ghastly void, a heart of darkness. It puts me in mind of T.S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men" (which of course was partly inspired by Conrad's "Heart of Darkness"):

We whisper together
    Are quiet and meaningless
    As wind in dry grass
    Or rats' feet over broken glass
    In our dry cellar
    Shape without form, shade without colour,
    Paralysed force, gesture without motion ...

So Reflecting Light takes on a new shape. But, I trust, it will have form, color, force, and motion.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Midnight in Paris

It's midnight in the United States of America, and I only feel like writing about trivia just now. It's hard to get more trivial than Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris.

Why did I drop this gobbler in my Netflix queue? It got good reviews. Said to be romantic. Nostalgic. Cooked in Allen's brain, it would have at least a few good lines of dialogue, I figured. Wrong.

This is such a silly, ultra-"high concept" script that no producer would have taken a pitch meeting for it had anyone but Woody Allen put it on the table. He can recruit name actors and probably brings his films in on budget, and I suppose they almost all make money. 

You're to lose your heart to the City of Light, bask in the glamour of it all, and pat yourself on the back for recognizing famous literary and artistic characters from Paris's past while Allen sticks his Concept up your nose.

Concept: Goofy Hollywood screenwriter (Owen Wilson), engaged to crass socialite (Rachel McAdams), wants to prove he's a real artiste by writing a "serious" novel. On a trip to Paris with his fiancée and her stiff parents, screenwriter finds himself in time warp bouncing back to the '20s. With no trouble at all (and no suspicions from anyone about his 21st century clothing and occasional modern expressions), he's swanning about with Scott, Zelda, Cole, Pablo, Salvador, etc.

Psst, look, he's talking lit'ry matters with Ernest Hemingway, who could talk of these things and could write about love and death because he knew love and death, and to know those was to pay out a sentence straight and true like a fishing line with a great flounder at the end, so great that he had never seen such a flounder.

Hey, there's Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas! Nudge-nudge, T.S. Eliot! Belmonte the Bool-Fighter who wrote poems in blood on the sand and was graceful under pressure! Few of these luminaries do or say much, but as noted, they are a form of cinematic name dropping so audiences can tell themselves how cultured they are.

The setting bounces back and forth like a tennis ball between past and present; fiancée and troglodyte parents get ever more obnoxious; screenwriter meets charming (present-day) antique gallery owner. Back in the '20s, he flirts with Picasso's (I think) abused mistress.

Not only has Picasso (I think) done her wrong, but she's nostalgic for Paris's Golden Age. The '20s, what a drag. She longs for the Belle Epoque, and through some further bit of time origami, she and the screenwriter travel back a further generation. They're in Maxim's, with can-can girls and Toulouse-Lautrec and Gauguin and Degas. But only for a brief stopover, and our poor Hollywood sap is back in today's Paris.

Well, not really. It's a fantasy too, cleaned up the better to swoon over. Other than a few graffiti here and there (surprising the film crew didn't paint them over), this is the Paris of TV perfume commercials. No veiled women, traffic jams, loud storefronts. You'd never dream the city is ringed with high-rise projects occupied by North African gangs, "no-go" areas even for the police and where the local sport is setting cars on fire.

To give Allen credit, he does have a talent for creating lovely images of vanished days. Even while you're conscious of the manipulative artifice and aware of the clichés (including the repetitive Django Reinhardt-ish riffs on the soundtrack), it's possible to captivated by the ambience, costumes, and some lovely ladies including the exquisite Marion Cotillard. 

But Allen won't even let us keep our innocent pleasure. In the end we're told by the wised-up screenwriter that all that Golden Age stuff is a crock. Every generation imagines a previous era to have been better, he says. He and Picasso's mistress (I think) were fooling themselves. We were suckers for letting Allen take us in with his nostalgic finery.

There's no point in commenting on the acting, since all anyone was asked to do was play a caricature. I'd never seen Owen Wilson before, probably because I never want to see the kind of movies he's starred in, and nothing he does here leaves me eager to re-make his acquaintance.