Heard, read and seen

An image of Totoro, comprised of the entire screenplay written by hand in Japanese.

• My favorite anecdote from Emma Cline, author of The Girls, interviewed by Vendela Vida at City Arts and Lectures. Cline grew up in a family with 7 children, and on their birthdays each kid would get their very own box of cereal. They’d write their names on the box with a sharpie and guard it with their lives.

• I serve on the board of McSweeneys, the publisher of the Internet Tendency, a humor web site, the McSweeneys Quarterly Concern , a literary magazine, and lots of lots of literary fiction, poetry, non-fiction, children’s books and books that make the world better. The Quarterly and the Books are in actualy, physical print, beacons of beauty in a world starved for gorgeousness.  Certainly your holiday gift recipients should have some ideas, some poetry, some love, some beauty?

 

Perfect Potato and Perfect Carrot

“unless you grow your own or are friends with a farmer with a sense of humor, you never see a potato or a carrot like these beauts. that’s unfortunate. in our modern mediated globelife we decry fakery in all it’s forms. no matter the field — consuming, political or social — we demand a semblance of honesty. and yet we also require the best, from everything and everyone. no matter the nature of things, we believe it’s natural that some things won’t make the cut. at some point fairness, candor, probity, bluntness, and integrity take a back seat to whatever we deem fine, fitting and just. easier on the eyes and all that. there are times though when it’s just plain considerate to pull back the veil to see a bit of what goes on when we aren’t looking.”

James Luckett

Which leads me to elsewhere on his site, where James writes:

Maneuvering daily through an increasingly global culture of capital bent on measuring success by material ownership, relative worth and fame, I am frustrated. Idealisms of this sort are by necessity exclusive. In our constant struggle to move forward, to achieve more, to rise higher, to be the best, to eventually be the only one…

And from that, to being the only one, in this poem by Louise Gluck:

 

 

 

 

 

Ignorance ≠ Knowledge

Portrait Of Isaac Asimov

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

– Isaac Asimov

The entire article can be read here. 

The Little Virtues, by Natalia Ginzburg

Natalia Ginzberg

“As far as the education of children is concerned, I think they should be taught not the little virtues but the great ones. Not thrift but generosity and an indifference to money; not caution but courage and a contempt for danger; not shrewdness but frankness and a love of truth; not tact but a love of ones neighbor and self-denial; not a desire for success but a desire to be and to know.”

Ursula LeGuin on Resistance and Change

Ursula K Le Guin

Ursula LeGuin, in her acceptance speech for the Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the National Book Awards, said this, in defense of writing and humanity:

Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom – poets, visionaries – realists of a larger reality.

Right now, we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. Developing written material to suit sales strategies in order to maximise corporate profit and advertising revenue is not the same thing as responsible book publishing or authorship …

Books aren’t just commodities; the profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words.

You don’t have to be pretty

You Don’t Have to Be Pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked “female”.

Erin McKean

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