– for Susan
The first time I ran across Maxwell J McKee was at a recital of student work at Bard. But, lo and behold, I was reminded in the analysis that the man who interrupted out conversation was called Gardener and that I thought his wife looked blooming. The first half of the concert closed with McKee’s Double Helix for string quartet, “captivating,” and even as I write these words I recall that one of my patients, who bore the charming name of Flora, was for a time the pivot of our discussion. I wrote at the time, “from the opening breath of violin played at the edge of its sound.” There must have been the intermediate links, arising from the botanical group of ideas, which formed the bridge between the two experiences of that day, the indifferent and the stirring one. Double Helix has since garnered McKee an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award and the Hudson Valley Chamber Music Circle’s composition prize. A further set of connections was then established- those surrounding the idea of cocaine, which had every right to serve as a link between the figure of Dr. Konigstein and a botanical monograph which I had written; and these connections strengthened the fusion between the two groups of ideas so that it became possible for a portion of the one experience to serve as an illusion to the other one.