"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"Where's the Literary?

I thought I put something literary in my suitcase?" Denis Johnson at the New School.

It Was a Highly Prized Letter

I'm sure. This is the letter Kurt Vonnegut wrote from P.O.W. repatriation camp, informing his family that he was still alive.

Well, the supermen marched us, without food, water or sleep to Limberg, a distance of about sixty miles, I think, where we were loaded and locked up, sixty men to each small, unventilated, un-heated box car. There were no sanitary accommodations -- the floors were covered with fresh cow dung. There wasn't room for all of us to lie down. Half slept while the other half stood.

We spent several days, including Christmas, on that Limberg siding. On Christmas eve, the Royal Air Force bombed and strafed our unmarked train. They killed about one-hundred-and-fifty of us. We got a little water Christmas Day and moved slowly across Germany to a large P.O.W. Camp in Muhlburg, South of Berlin. We were released from the box cars on New Year's Day. The Germans herded us through scalding delousing showers. Many men died from shock in the showers after ten days of starvation, thirst and exposure. But I didn't.

It's also a very moving letter, written in Pvt. Vonnegut's unmistakable style.

Ah, We Knew It

Dmitri Nabokov will publish Vladimir Nabokov's Laura, instead of destroying it, as his father's will specified.

Well, I'm relieved.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day

Earth Day Do's and Don't's:

Do: Visit Eartheasy.com for information on pesticide residues on produce.

Do: Eat organic whenever possible.

Do: Rake your lawn by hand.

Don't: Use pesticides on your lawn.

Don't: Use plastic Q-tips or similar products. The cardboard ones are the same price, and biodegradable.

Do: Cut down on use of plastic shopping bags and any plastic packaging.

Do: Contact manufacturers to ask for biodegradable packaging.

Do: Read The World Without Us, Alan Weisman's great book about our impact on the earth.

Friday, April 11, 2008

In the Beginning was the Word,

the word was, in time, written down in books. Which are now being sold in churches, or at least one former church in the Netherlands.
Popular books are kept on lower shelves, while academic, esoteric and theological works are kept closer to heaven. These are reached by stairs within the sleek, well-made bookstack, although there is also a lift.

At the Guardian.

It's Happening

Brave New Meat

Can we have animal-grown meat and a planet too? It's a good question.

It continues to amaze me how prophetic science fiction can be.

Make Room, Make Room (Soylent Green)

And, read Brave New World before you pop your next Xanax, Ambien, Prozac, or whatever.

Dylan and Diaz

Have won Pulitzer Prizes, along with Hass, Schultz and Friedlander (who? I know.)

As much as I like Diaz, even he is not at the same level as Dylan. It's like the Pulitzer normally rewards a certain degree of achievement, and only occasionally reaches for the real stars. They ought to create a special prize for Dylan.

But that's just me.