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Friday, December 1, 2006
Trow in 1990
Someone -- I can only suspect Mark Feeney -- left a photocopy of George Trow's Harvard Class of 1965 "25th Anniversary Report" entry on my desk. One of the unexpected resources of the Globe's library is a semi-hidden bookshelf crammed with Harvard alumni reports.
Listing his occupation as "Writer, Actor," Trow writes just as engagingly and elliptically here as everywhere else. And -- instead of updating his classmates on the usual sort of thing one writes in these reports -- just he does in "No Context," Trow sounds an end-of-history note:
I do not care to write what people are not interested in reading -- and I believe that the intellectual tradition in this country has been put to rest. A scientist will understand what I mean when I assert that to reach a solution one must have not only a problem but a number of persons aware of the problem as something with attributes and a history. This is particularly true in the mathematics of language. Language experiments now take place in a near-vacuum and are nearly useless as a result.
There's no point in writing the sorts of thing that intellectuals formerly wrote about, because there's no one out there who'd read it, Trow seems to be saying. So what to do instead? He tells his classmates that he's decided to write screenplays. He'd already collaborated on writing a Merchant & Ivory film, in 1972: "Savages." After The New Yorker was sold to S.I. Newhouse, he says, he approached M&I again, "and I hope to be doing this kind of work for the rest of my life."
According to Trow's NYT obit, the only other screenplay he would collaborate on was M&I's "The Proprietor," in 1996. Perhaps Feeney, a great film expert and author of "Nixon at the Movies," will tell me more about this aspect of Trow's career...