Formal Logic of Emotion, The

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9780921833338: Formal Logic of Emotion, The
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What happens when logic is pushed to its limits? Is it possible to impose some kind of order on the confusion of human experience? When the very real chaos of life is revealed to the characters in these stories, whether through love, loss or death, they are forced to seek meaning, to look for order in their universe. And sometimes they think they have found it.

The people in these stories are gripped by fear, jealousy, grief, shame and, worse, resignation. Mirolla loves his people, not when they are at their winning best, but when they are vulnerable, damaged, loveless. The author's humor illuminates the landscape as he follows his characters in their search for meaning. The characters journey through an interior universe on a magical, sometimes fabulous quest, governed by an unknown logic.

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About the Author:

Born in Italy and raised in Montreal, Michael Mirolla is the award-winning author of the novel Berlin (2010 Bressani Prize); The Giulio Metaphysics III; and the poetry collection The House on 14th Avenue (2014 Bressani Prize). He lives in Oakville, Ontario.

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"Do you feel corruptible, chronically uninspired, even dazed. Is malaise eating away at your essential fibre. Do the lowliest of the lowly smile and look down at you. Arturo Fe [as in auto-da-f], free-lance interpreter of slings and arrows, has the solution to your dilemma. Along with his invaluable personal tutelage, the student gets to bask in the aura of his presence. Included is a comfortable anti-room for the student's conven ience, complete with handy sofa-bed, drawers and mahogany sea chest. Three meals a day at the family dining table with conver sation and antipasto thrown in. All for a minimal monthly fee of $100. Qualified individuals only. Apply by calling 279-1538."

The moment he saw the ad, Manfred knew his search for Dr. Franz Hartmann was about over. The trail had led from Athens to Venice to London and finally to Burnaby, B.C., a bedroom suburb of Vancouver. Manfred was positive that "free-lance interpreter" Arturo Fe and Dr. Hartmann were one and the same.

Yes, this was the Dr. Hartmann, the one who had startled the academic world with his revela tions on the nature of questions and Socratic reality in a paper titled "Was Socrates The First Absurdist". Even to this day, twen ty-one years after the fact and with exhaustive research, no scholar had yet surpassed his brilliant studies. Partly as an antidote for the dryness of his subject and partly as a way of maintaining his grip on a fragmenting physical world, he'd pushed the cause forward with evangelical fervor. And then disappeared on an expedition to Greece, leaving behind the first in a series of cryptic notes, a blurred photograph of himself amid the ruins where Manfred had recently stood, and a group of bitterly antagonistic students who fought constantly, each feel ing he or she had discovered Hartmann's true message. Among them--verily at the head of the class--was Manfred's father. As a student, he'd travelled all the way from antihistamine Canada to study under Hartmann. No one could accuse him of boasting when he claimed he was the teacher's favourite, had in fact lived in the same house with him and then remained behind in Germany, stranded and moorless, awaiting the return of his mentor. Even his mar riage to a Canadian expatriate hadn't helped. Instead of bedtime stories around the hearth, he imbued his son with visions of Hartmann.

"His mind consisted of densely packed dark alleys and bril liantly lit passages," the father said, squeezing Manfred's arm almost to the point of hurting it. "The first time you meet him, you won't be able to forget his eyes. Stay away from them or they'll mesmerize you. There's no zombie worse than a scholastic one."

For nineteen years, the father carried on the work. Then, suddenly, in the year celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the professor's disappearance, he discovered a lump in his chest and proceeded to waste away. He awaited that very moment, bed-ridden, alone--his wife having been discarded years before, only word from Manfred that Dr. Hartmann had been unearthed. In his delirium, he came to believe that the finding of his mentor and a cure were somehow interconnected. To aid Manfred, he'd handed over every piece of correspondence that had been exchanged be tween tutor and star pupil.

Manfred had been hampered in his search by not having any recognizable photographs of Hartmann, the one taken amid the ruins being yellowed and unfocussed. His father's description was fragmentary and naturally biased, Manfred having to take into account the awe in which Hartmann was held, making him seem at times a veritable Prometheus. Or Faust. However, there was one thing that didn't lie--the postmarks on Hartmann's letters. And thus Manfred found himself in Vancouver, armed with a stylistic chart that enabled him to recognize Dr. Hartmann's literary form the moment it crossed his path. This chart, unfortunately lost in the fire, read something like this:

"Dr. Franz Hartmann tends to yoke oxymorons. He's fatalistic in tone except when discussing the creative act. This, in turn, causes him to wax romantic. His later style--one is tempted to call it his post-vanishing style--is riddled with puns and half-jokes. E.g.: A not particularly handsome woman might be referred to as an antibella. Most important of all, the question mark isn't part of his repertoire." --from "The Anteroom"

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