"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, March 26, 2009

Pincher Moscowitz

Did Woody Allen read The Two Deaths of Christopher [aka Pincher] Martin? Did Bernie Madoff? At the NY Times. What is the karmic difference between a lobster on a rock and a lobster in a restaurant tank? Read and learn.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Second Lifecraft

I meant to write this right after the Neal Stephenson post, since his novel Snow Crash explores the concept brilliantly, but then I got a puppy, and here I am, weeks later, finally writing about the Second Life phenomenon, or a phenomenon involving the Second Life phenomenon.

Research at Stanford University indicates that Second Life players with socially successful avatars are more confident, those with thin avatars will lose weight, and other astounding observations that make it seem as if Second Life, far from attracting escapists and social losers (as the geek reputation goes), is attracting people who are visualizing a new world... or, partaking in an effective kind of self-hypnosis. Maybe it depends on the person. Hey, if we keep war and pollution out of Second Life, can we keep our world clean and peaceful, too? Maybe we need a World of Peacecraft?

Second Life, at Time.

Monday, March 23, 2009

He was the baby in the barn...

Nicholas Hughes' suicide.

When I read of the death of Sylvia Plath's son, I thought of the poem, Nick and the Candlestick, which reads, in part:

o love, how did you get here?
o embryo...

You are the one solid
the spaces lean on, envious
You are the baby in the barn.

From Ariel. Sad.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Why I Love Neal Stephenson

This excerpt, about a house meeting:

Ike got up and announced he was moving out. He was tired of the plumbing problems, he said, and the weird messages on the answering machine, and Roscommon had come in while he was at work and torn down the Mel King campaign poster on our front balcony... Tess and Laurie, the lesbian carpenters, announced that they liked the kitchen better after we'd untrashed it and cleaned it up, so why not try to keep it that way? I pointed out that I had bought three new badminton birdies before I left for Buffalo and now they were all gone. Should we call this place a "co-op" or a "commune"? How about calling it a "house"? Who had scrubbed the Teflon off the big frying pan? Since Tess had weeded the garden, how many tomatoes did she get? Whose hair predominated in the shower drain-- the women's, since they had more, or the men's, since they were losing more? Was it okay to pour bacon grease down the drains if you ran hot water at the same time? Could bottles with metal rings on the necks be put in the recycling box? Should we buy a cord of firewood? Maple or pine? Did we agree that the people next door were abusing their children? Physically or just psychologically? Was boric acid roach powder a bioaccumulative toxin? Where was the bicycle-tire pump, and was it okay to take it on an overnight trip? Whose turn was it to scrub the green crap out from between the tiles in the bathroom?

I almost want to dye my hair pink and get a pair of Dr. Martens. It's page 157-158, chapter 20 of Zodiac.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Nonproductive Creativity vs. Productive Mediocrity

Perhaps Leonardo's greatest discovery was not the perfectibility of man but its opposite: He found that even the most profound thought combined with the most ferocious application cannot accomplish something absolutely true and beautiful. We cannot touch the face of God. But we can come close, and his work, imperfect as it may be, is one of the major demonstrations of heroic procrastination in Western history: the acceptance of our imperfection — and the refusal to accept anything less than striving for perfection anyway.

Leonardo is just one example of an individual whose meaning has been constructed, in part, to combat the vice of procrastination; namely, the natural desire to pursue what one finds most interesting and enjoyable rather than what one finds boring and repellent, simply because one's life must be at the service of some compelling interest — some established institutional practice — that is never clearly explained, lest it be challenged and rejected.

Interesting look at nonproductive genius, of which the author says there is much in academia, compared to forced production. At The Chronicle.

I know that we often feel the push to capitalize on our talents, to make money just to pay the bills, and people complain about the quality of the resulting product -- mediocre TV, sensational journalism, poorly written genre books, scandalous, attention-getting art. We mostly agree that money isn't the whole point. The point is to share genius, inspired energy, with others. One hopes to also make a living at it, but completing work is not just about money. Leonardo worked on commission, btw, and still didn't complete that much. It was his recognized genius that kept him afloat financially, to the chagrin of other artists who did complete work, Michelangelo, e.g. Genius alone doesn't pay as well as it may once have, so we don't have the option of postponing completion of work if we want to make a career of it. We have to make judgments -- when is something finished? When can it no longer be made better? When is it time to move on anyway? We show ourselves, our level of talent and genius, in what we choose to share, what we label "finished." Maybe Leonardo was never satisfied with his own genius, or maybe he didn't feel the urge to share. Today, creative people must resist the pressure to put half-realized work out there to try to make a buck. In my opinion. I might feel differently if my writing paid for an expensive lifestyle. It's easy to get attached to that.