Sunday, November 11, 2007

David Lyle, Blogger

Because the Beinecke Library at Yale took its Williams papers out of circulation with little notice this fall, I wasn’t able to take a look at the Lyle manuscripts there (in an earlier entry, I discussed them as an important hidden inspiration for Paterson). Nevertheless, Bob Perelman pointed out to me that in Mike Weaver’s William Carlos Williams: The American Background there is a useful approximation—a reorganization of the Lyle material by Williams, available here. Weaver gives us some more detailed facts about this Patersonian, which warrants a long quote:
Lyle had had ten years of Marconi in the Merchant Marine, the U.S. Navy, and the shore-based Radio Marine. He had come to Paterson in 1938 to work as an instrument-engineer at the Wright Aero Factory, to which the old city now looked for its industrial existence. From the time he left radio service in 1931 he had been seeking some kind of connection between abstract codes of communication like Morse and patterns of human behaviour; in short, the relation between mathematics and particulars. . . . [H]e has spent his life correlating the multiple networks of facts, events, and ideas, which have poured past his local vantage-point in New Jersey; first from East Twenty-fourth Street in Paterson not far from the Falls, then up in the ‘back country’ in Midvale about eighteen miles from the city. In 1944 he gave up his job at Wright Aero to devote himself fulltime to his method. Lyle’s hypothesis was that the world’s ills could be cured not by means of newly-created political theories but by the proper alignment of thought and fact at every level of knowledge, from concrete to the abstract . . . . These letters by means of which Lyle addressed simultaneously persons often unknown to each other and in widely divergent fields, consisted of correlations of their published writings with those of other writers. In short, he was not so much a writer as a re-writer. (122-23)

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