The Widener is one good reason to live in Cambridge, Mass. I have a motto: when you get really depressed, go to the stacks. You are surrounded by things that people have produced, not by people themselves. Almost always an improvement. Furthermore, I feel safe there.

I took the elevator to the fifth floor. Looking for the call number –– WID-LC B243.I2613.1986. I stopped. Turned down an aisle, tripped a motion-sensor, and a light clicked on. An old man – possibly in his 70s – was walking towards me from the other end of the aisle. The gap closed between us. I bent down to reach for a book – Iamblichus’s “Life of Pythagoras, or, Pythagoric Life (De vita pythagorica).” As he passed me, he said, “Be careful. Iamblichus is not to be trusted.”

Re-kindled joy in my fellows, in five parts.


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