"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

Thursday, July 31, 2008

"I don't know much about creative writing programs.

But they're not telling the truth if they don't teach, one, that writing is hard work, and, two, that you have to give up a great deal of life, your personal life, to be a writer." -- Doris Lessing.

I found this quotation on John Baker's blog (see sidebar), and Googled it, and found a couple of interesting interviews and lists of quotes. Lessing talks a bit about what a writer's life requires, and the life of a single parent who is a writer. She's more realistic than most, I think, about the sacrifices entailed. We who like to think we can have it all should consider ourselves warned.

I think -- and she might well agree -- that "having it all" is a recently created concept, a marketing strategy, a way to get people to consume more things, services, etc. I believe there was a time when everyone expected to make choices that limited their options. Few people expect that now, and we are encouraged to call it progress. But it turns from progress into a burden at a certain point, and I think we've reached that point, both psychologically and in terms of the load on the planet.

A friend from Russia put this succinctly. He described standing in the supermarket looking at the huge number of different varieties of toilet paper for sale -- white, green, pink, blue, scented, unscented, extra-soft, two-ply, recycled, packed in separate rolls, in twos, fours, sixes, eights, dozens. The real question, he said (I'm paraphrasing; it was a long time ago), is why do you need so many choices?

Monday, July 28, 2008

A View from the Yard

This morning, I heard one of the three neighborhood fawns crying for its mother. There are two twin fawns and one singleton, and two does. They all hang around together, but the does sometimes leave the fawns. Anyway, one of the does answered with the funny clicking sound they make, and the fawn went to it, but apparently It Wasn't Mom, because the fawn shrank away and trotted off, still crying. The doe followed it, the way you follow your friend's crying kid...

Have I said how annoying the deer usually are? Eating all the flowers and spreading ticks. It was nice to have a different experience of them.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Why I Love Email

1. Because people send all kinds of things. I have no idea of the actual provenance of this. I just know it had me laughing out loud first thing in the morning, about something that is really not funny.

The 23rd Qualm

(Written by a retired Methodist minister.)

Bush is my shepherd; I dwell in want.
He maketh logs to be cut down in national forests.
He leadeth trucks into the still wilderness.
He restoreth my fears.
He leadeth me in the paths of international disgrace
for his ego's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of pollution
and war,
I will find no exit, for thou art in office.
Thy tax cuts for the rich and thy media control,
they discomfort me.
Thou preparest an agenda of deception in the
presence of thy religion.
Thou anointest my head with foreign oil.
My health insurance runneth out.
Surely megalomania and false patriotism shall follow me
all the days of thy term,
And my jobless child shall dwell in my basement forever.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Resuscitation of a Hanged Man

Since the beginning of last year, cf previous posts, I've been keeping a list of books I read. I just read over the list and was disappointed in how many of those books I just didn't like. You could lose your faith in reading, except that once in awhile a book like this comes along.

"And I asked myself: The way you are now, would your eight-year-old self approve of you? Would your eight-year-old self -- that totally innocent child, with those ideals that are real, man, and human -- would he approve?"

The tall thin man got up and headed out the door.

"No fucking way. I was betraying that kid," Phil said, "my childhood self. I'm talking about the real feeling of like if you stuck a bayonet in your buddy's back, not just ripping off a friend or something like that, but killing, death. You know what I'm saying man?" Phil's face was crushed under the pressure of his pain. "I don't think you know the kind of treachery I'm talking about."

"Whatever's on tap," English said, and the bartender drew him a glass of beer.

Phil's troubled scrutiny had floated over and snagged on the cross-dresser. "You never tasted that kind of treachery, man."

The cross-dresser smiled and shrugged. Her eyes were very red.

"But then, and then it was like," Phil said, holding his hand out before him, gazing cross-eyed into his open palm as if this memory rested right there in it, "the ghost of John Lennon appeared to me. And he said, Fuck that, he can't judge you, because an eight-year-old doesn't have the knowledge, man. Those ideals of yesterday, even everything you believed two hours ago, man -- fuck that. We don't need to apologize to our past selves. They were the ones who turned into us. We are just who we are. You know?" he asked the cross-dresser.

She sat in splendid isolation, putting her very red lips around the cherry from her Manhattan.

A Fun Way to Waste Time

I guess most of them are fun, or we wouldn't do them, or doing them, wouldn't consider them a waste of time because if we're not doing something for fun, it must be necessary...whew, got that?


Should be labeled "not writing" -- but at least it keeps me off that celebrity face recognition site.

Monday, July 14, 2008


In the four minutes it probably takes to read this review, you will have logged exactly half the time the average 15- to 24-year-old now spends reading each day. That is, if you even bother to finish. If you are perusing this on the Internet, the big block of text below probably seems daunting, maybe even boring. Who has the time? Besides, one of your Facebook friends might have just posted a status update!

Read the rest.

I'm surprised the rest of the population got off without criticism. I know I spend way too much time checking my email and messages. But I did read 79 books last year, although I am only up to 30 so far this year.

Time for Twain

The man who said:

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is really a large matter — it's the difference between a lightning bug and the lightning.

and advised youth:

Be respectful to your superiors, if you have any.

is featured in Time.

While you're reading, check out his page at Wikiquote.