"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

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Why Do They Think Teens Read?

This article from Nashua, NH, about four stories being pulled from the high school curriculum because cocaine use, cannibalism, homosexuality and abortion are not "age-appropriate" subjects for teens. Imagine that. Are these kids allowed to watch the news?

Recently, I was going through some old poetry books, cleaning out my shelf, and I came across an anthology with Anne Sexton's For My Lover Returning to His Wife. I mean, how could poetry not be thrilling for a teenager? All that taboo stuff! I love poetry to this day!

Books -- poetry, novels, stories -- were how I found out about life, and how to think about morals and ethics. Because my parents were tolerant, I was able to read whatever I wanted, including, in college, I think, Hills Like White Elephants, the famous Hemingway story in which abortion, the subject, is never mentioned.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Oeufs Vert au Jambon!!

This made me very happy.

Maybe it's just a rainy day impulse purchase, but I want one and it can be had at Amazon.

Dept. of Heart in Right Place

Ray Bradbury is on the side of libraries.

The Koreatown public library in Los Angeles where Mr. Bradbury spent his teens. After clicking the link, click "street view" in the bubble.

What's in a name: Koogle

The kosher search engine: Koogle.

The silliness of the name made me think it was worth a post. I miss Froogle, which is now the boring Google shopping.

photo from wholefoodsmarket.com

Saturday, June 13, 2009

David Carradine and James Baldwin

All the lurid coverage of Carradine's death has me wondering why anyone takes that kind of risk -- not just sexual adventurers, but guys who climb challenging mountains or risk death in other ways. What is going on there, is it self-destruction that falls short of direct suicide attempts, is it arrested development/nothing bad can happen to me because I'm young or rich or famous (pick one)? The thing is, for every man who dies of something risky like this, like Chris McCandless (read Jon Krakauer's book Into the Wild), or men who've died on Mt. Everest (Krakauer's Into Thin Air), there are probably thousands who take foolish risks and do not die, who look back and think, Christ, I'm lucky I survived. Is there benefit for the group to having men who are willing to risk their lives without thinking too much about it?

Anyway, at the same time that I've been puzzling this out, I've been reading Another Country, and here is what James Baldwin has to say about his character, Vivaldo, who seeks the thrill of danger by visiting Harlem in the 1950s:

It had been his fancy that danger, there, was more real, more open, than danger was downtown and that he, having chosen to run these dangers, was snatching his manhood from the lukewarm waters of mediocrity and testing it in the fire. He had felt more alive in Harlem, for he had moved in a blaze of rage and self-congratulation and sexual excitement, with danger, like a promise, waiting for him everywhere. And, nevertheless, in spite of all this daring, this running of risks, the misadventures which had actually befallen him had been banal indeed and might have befallen him anywhere. His dangerous, overwhelming lust for life had failed to involve him in anything deeper than perhaps half a dozen extremely casual acquaintanceships in about as many bars. For memories, he had one or two marijuana parties, one or two community debauches, one or two girls whose names he had forgotten, one or two addresses which he had lost....

...He was forced, little by little, against his will, to realize that in running the dangers of Harlem he had not been testing his manhood, or heightening his sense of life. He had merely been taking refuge in the outward adventure in order to avoid the clash and tension of the adventure proceeding inexorably within. Perhaps this was why he sometimes seemed to surprise in the dark faces which watched him a hint of amused and not entirely unkind contempt.... He was just a poor white boy in trouble and it was not in the least original of him to come running to the niggers.