Metaphysics was words. Nachman had nothing against words, but as a mathematician, he kept trying to read through the words to the concepts. After a while, he believed he understood a little. Bergson raised problems about indeterminate realities. He then offered solutions that seemed determinate. Mathematicians did that, too, but they worked with mathematical objects, not messy speculations and feelings about experience. But then—My God, Nachman thought—metaphysics was something like calculus. Bergson himself didn’t have much respect for mathematics. He thought it was a limited form of intelligence, a way of asserting sovereignty over the material world, but still, to Nachman’s mind, Bergson was a kind of mathematician. He worked with words instead of equations, and arrived at an impressionistic calculus. It was inexact—the opposite of mathematics—but Bergson was a terrific writer, and his writing was musical, not right, not wrong.

—L. Michaels, Nachman from Los Angeles