Wednesday, January 25, 2017

If your house is on fire, the most urgent thing to do is to go back and try to put out the fire, not to run after the person you believe to be the arsonist. If you run after the person you suspect has burned your house, your house will burn down while you are chasing him or her. That is not wise. You must go back and put out the fire. So when you are angry, if you continue to interact with or argue with the other person, if you try to punish her, you are acting exactly like someone who runs after the arsonist while everything goes up in flames.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

"They mounted and set off for the house. Ordering the servant to ride on before with the lantern, Leila brought her horse close in so that they might ride knee-to-knee, solaced by the touch of each other’s bodies. They had not been lovers for very long —barely ten days —though to the youthful Mountolive it seemed a century, an eternity of despair and delight. He had been formally educated in England, educated not to wish to feel. All the other valuable lessons he had already mastered, despite his youth —to confront the problems of the drawing-room and the street with sang-froid; but towards personal emotions he could only oppose the nervous silence of a national sensibility almost anaesthetized into clumsy taciturnity: an education in selected reticences and shames."

In Mountolive by Lawrence Durrell, and describing him (Mountolive)

Suffering is
contagious in a way
that joy is not--we are
by the passion but
the transfiguration trundles
by ignored.

Jammin' with Basquiat

decore888888888 sp
and Muse-sich
decar8888888888 t-I
but po et
tree descar888888888
theme eind.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Shape of the World as I See It

For all the problems
I see around me,
I prefer no time
to my time(really,
they were all the same
but now you can see
both light and dark. No
longer do we sit
in complete ignorance
while others tell us
how great we are);
no age to my
present age(though
sometimes in the aches
and pains, it sounds nice
to be a younger self--the pain
of the fire that burns
too intensely and forgets
more frequently that life is
the only real gift far
outweighs these signs
that I've come far enough
to delight in what the world
offers);  no place but my
place(the spirit
of wandering sings
loud and the lure of having
ever more and more
persuades, until I think
of the hours and days and weeks and years
expended in keeping
all fine and catch a glimpse
of me as servant to all
that owns me,
and know that however
far I go, I long still
for a place of retreat).

In short, I can be
content if I settle
down to be.
I'd like for my
biggest problem
to be
"What shade of blue
do I wear today."

Sunday, January 1, 2017



It was like He said
Let's put a black box
around your head
and cut a small ragged
circular hole in it
right in the center
just above the bridge
of your nose and cover
the hole with a million
year old, scratched up
gray filter. Then let's
light the room with dim
red bulbs accented with
a silver bright flashing
strobe light. And let's fill
the room with fog like
sublimating dry ice and
then send you in to pick up
a thousand black pins from
the deep pile dark green
carpet. If it doesn't seem
right just keep at it until
it does. And not knowing
any better you do.
poetry Drafts My writing

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Collateral Beauty

This evening saw Collateral Beauty with my son. We both liked it, but critics, predictably hated it--a lot.  They found it predictable and manipulative and cynical.  Probably all true--but it is of a type that is designed for all of that--a tearjerker.  As such, it has a formula--and the execution of this formula was remarkably well done.  Except for one bit of overexplaining toward the end, it was a predictably simple story with an interesting twist which I did not see coming.

In case you're wondering this is all about making sure that I've posted something today, to try to get back into the regular rhythm of it.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Abandoning Facebook

And retreating here to set up a sort of accountability for my writing.  I hope to take back up with the same mix of the literary and spirituality, with perhaps the latter in greater abundance than hitherto.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Imagine--Jonah Lehrer

In his third book length publication Jonah Lehrer takes on the world of creativity, innovation, and to some extent imagination--though that is hardly touched upon at all.  Leaving the secure ground of neuroscience (particularly in the second half og the book) Lehrer strays into the fields of social psychology and sociology with somewhat mixed results.

Perhaps that is only for me.  I tend to become quite skeptical when research involves more than empirically verifiable fact and strays off into the territory of group interaction.  You can say that something worked, but it seems difficult to pinpoint why that something worked in the particular instance.  Taking the well-known example of Pixar, Lehrer  (summarizing the work of others, implies that success was largely the result of architecture forcing hallway meetings and interchange.  This, in turn, blossomed into some of the wonderful films we see from the studio.  If such chance meetings and random conversations were really the breeding ground of creativity, one would have expected the 1950s cocktail party to have given rise to something better than Joe McCarthy.

Despite some places where I felt (but do not know) that the explanation was lacking credibility, I found myself sympathetic to the suggestions.  That, of course made me even more skeptical about their validity.  Just because a book confirms what I think to be right because of anecdotal experience does not imply that either the experience nor the book have a finger on the pulse of reality as-it-is.

Despite these reservations, the book is, as usual, readable, fun, and even compelling.  If I disagree at times with the examples of "genius" he chooses to site  (Why Auden rather than Larkin or T.S. Eliot?  Why Bob Dylan rather than John Lennon?--But then, one must draw from examples that demonstrate the principle), I nevertheless enjoyed the exposition of what these individuals did that allowed creativity to flourish.

My rating--an entirely subjective ***1/2  mostly because of disagreements and skepticism.

The Lieutenant--Kate Grenville

I'm not certain that enough good can be said of Kate Grenville.  In this second book of a trilogy devoted to the early history of Australia, she gives us the story of  Daniel Rooke--fashioned loosely after the real-life character of William Dawes.  William Dawes was an early student of the Aboriginal peoples and their language as well as an astronomer and all round polymath.  He was expelled from Australia and went on to join forces with William Wilberforce and, eventually, to open a school for freed-slaves in Antigua.

What Ms. Grenville gives us here is a remarkable story of first contact--of trying to forge the bonds of understanding that would bridge a vast gulf between the experiences of two different cultures.  She performs a remarkable feat in being able to show us the darkness of "civilization" as viewed by the aboriginal people.  She also speaks of the tenderness of heart and kindness that can bridge any gap.  She does all of this in language at once supple and lyrical but never purple, never overdone, always right-on cue.

If you have an interest in history, an interest in Australia, or an interest in just a cracking good story with powerfully drawn characters and (sometimes) a real bite--this is the book for you.

Highest recommendation--*****