Over the last year, my approach and attitude toward politics has evolved. That’s probably true for most of us. A year ago, I was engaged and optimistic about the possibility that Bernie might beat the liberal establishment and make a serious run at the White House. I was in McCarthy, Alaska a year ago, and I went to a Democratic caucus where something like fifteen people showed up, which may not sound like much to you, but McCarthy is a remote community that is literally at the end of the road, way out in bush Alaska, so fifteen people represents roughly half of the winter population. The caucus turned into a party.
But then the establishment struck back and Bernie got booted out, and since then, our political situation has only devolved in a downward spiral of outrage and cultural dysfunction. The worse it gets, the more I find myself single-pointedly posting politically. I can’t help myself.
I don’t apologize for filling my social media with political shit, but it’s odd because I’m not sure that I like it that way. I’d like to broaden my horizons a bit. For example, I’m a new author, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, trying to build a writing career and publish a novel. So from a marketing perspective I know that I should be posting stuff that’s more neutral, less politically charged, in an effort to broaden my influence among potential readers. I know this, intellectually, but it doesn’t stop me. I’m undeterred, day after day posting on politics and power and socialism and, of course, Trump. Is it possible to break out?
I often experience a flush of satisfaction in the middle of a good book, and because I have a mild case of eye-strain, most of the books I read these days are audio books.
I enoy reading and writing at the public library in Brunswick, and I don’t get there enough, I reckon. They have study rooms, nice work areas, and a helpful and cheerful staff (cheerful, at least, by librarian standards). They even have a fire room. That’s right, they even have couches in a great room with rugs and wood working and a high ceiling all centered around a roaring, crackling fire. Outside of Maine, I’ve never seen such a thing.
It was in this room that I felt that warm satisfaction that comes from my lifelong craving for story and appreciation for information. I walked swiftly to the restroom and at the door took out my earbuds and tossed them over my shoulder. This was a mistake.
While standing before the open mouth of the toilet, the earbuds worked themselves down my shoulder, slowly and unnoticed, until they eventually slid off entirely. I have pretty good reflexes, so I caught them, but not before the earbuds passed through my stream of urine.
It took some time to clean things up, but it’s a lesson learned, and after all, I had more of my book to look forward to.
Interview, Amos Oz in The New York Times Book Review, Nov 27, 2016
An article, Loaded Words, from a writer and activist who has been very influential to me, Derrick Jensen. One of Derrick’s most quoted and most controversial lines: “Every morning when I wake up I ask myself whether I should write, or blow up a dam.” (see Actions Speak Lounder than Words, 1998, and/or Derrick’s book, A Language Older than Words, a book very influential to me, personally) Read more
I’m not typically the guy with the Facebook updates sharing what I ate for breakfast. I don’t mind seeing what you or others eat for breakfast, and I certainly don’t have anything against breakfast, per se. Breakfast is a wonderful time of the day, so rich with potential, our bodies are on the verge of great creativity and productivity, if only it were given the fuel necessary to energize it. For my part, I had a bagel with cream cheese. That was my breakfast. And I sprinkled some sugar on it and added cinnamon. That’s not my typical breakfast. Usually it’s just fruit. Fruit and perhaps a handful of almonds. Why is this my normal breakfast? Well, if I told you, then this would start to seem like a story. Read more
We all live with fairly intense blindspots. It is, perhaps, one of those facts about human nature that can be funny, frustrating, and even infuriating. And as our stories tend to go, no one quite seems to know our blindspots like friends, families, and most especially partners, spouses, and boy/girl friends. In a perfect world, our blinspots would be pointed out to us, we would say, “Ah, thanks!” then make a few adjustments to our personality, tweak our persectives, and give ourselves a spiritual tune-up, so to speak. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. Read more
And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all…for thy merchants were the great men of the earth…And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth. ~ Revelation 18:21 (KJV)
Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is a novel that never ceases to rattle me, even at the mere mention of the title. Forgive me, as I must use a word wrought with overuse, but there’s no other word I can think of right now, seeing as it’s my writing warm up time and I’ve only had my second sip of coffee, but the novel is haunting, haunting in the sense that a presence hangs over the narrative. There is the most obvious presence, which is the wife of “the man” (these characters have no name, only “the man” or “the boy”). She visits him in dreams and flashbacks and in the questions from “the boy,” who is the man’s son. She is ghostly, a figure loved but whose abandonment of the family makes the misery of their existence seem even more futile than it ordinarily would. The man and the boy go from one desperate situation to another, facing everything from starvation to armed bands of cannibalists. In the hands of a great writer like Cormac McCarthy, we go deeper and deeper into the conflict between despair and love that constantly keeps the characters (and reader) in a state of limbo and uncertainty, torn between instincts to survive and protect loved ones and the reality of a world that has become burned and lifeless.
Hearing a story should feel effortless. This is my writing tip of the day, to myself from myself, as someone who tends to get sidetracked by his own mental constructs.