Gert Ködel

Gert Ködel wanted to be born on May 8, 1913, because that would have been a Fibonacci sequence (5-8-13), but he missed it by thirty years, being born on 5/8/43.  (He would have preferred ’41 – a prime number – but he was late for that as well.)  He was born in Madison, Wisconsin.

In 1942, Bertrand Russell visited Hollywood.  In spite of the fact that there was a war on, and very much so, the crusty old pacifist was fêted by the film community.  An irresistibly gorgeous starlet whose benefice from the human genome went all to the physical at the expense of the cerebral, is said to have whispered to the visiting sage, “Oh, Mr. Russell!  You and I should get together; with your brains and my looks, we could create the perfect human!”  To which Russell was reported to have replied, “Yes, my Dear, but suppose it should turn out the other way?”  In spite of the riposte, a clandestine tryst was effected; the result was Gert Ködel.

Lord Russell, miffed at the attention that the metamathematical community was getting at the expense of his and Lord Whitehead’s more conservative approach, decided that he must therefore name his son after his mathematical nemesis, Kurt Gödel.  As it turns out, the mother, although she was not quite the numbskull that Russell imagined, was responsible for the birth certificate, and she was dyslexic.

Gert as a child went far in proving the Platonic conceit that we are born all-knowing, and that subsequent life is a process of tragic forgetting.  Gert’s baby talk was found to have been an extinct dialect cognate with ancient Etruscan.  The boy spent his earliest childhood in an intellectual hothouse at the University of Wisconsin, every utterance, every gesture, and his unprecedentedly rapid acquisition of language being closely studied by a team of scholars who had no idea what to do with the information.  They were with the Department of Education.

Ködel got the best education academic legacy can confer (from the augustness of the paternal side), and the young man spent most of the time fighting it.  Strangely it was his mother, the movie starlet, who acted as a much needed counterbalance to the vociferous effects of an unrestrained academia.  She was a creature of Hollywood and she found a way to educate, or rather countereducate, her son through the medium she knew best, and both of them grew from the interaction.  He moved from a precociousness distorted by pathologies of academic wish-fulfillment, and she gradually rose from her heritage of intellectual marginality into a really helpful influence on her son.  Lord Russell, it seems, never entered the picture again.

So that is the background of a film scholar.  There are strange unevennesses in his intellectual landscape; his memory is capacious yet capriciously uneven.  But a true product of the Platonic myth, Gert anticipates that the second childhood, which is a form of senility for most of us, will recur as a return of his ab ovo omniscience.  He is looking forward to postconsciousness.

Gert Ködel is a freelancer in the chivalric sense of the word.  There was a wife, and there were children.  He misses the wife, and welcomes his adult children onto the stage of his life from time to time.  He lives in Port Orchid, the smallest settlement on the Olympic Peninsula.

You may reach Gert here.

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