The great haiku artist Kobayashi Issa wrote this:
New Year’s Day–
everything is in blossom!
I feel about average.
In all the year-end roundups on the various blogs, I enjoyed David Cain’s 16 things I know are true but haven’t quite learned yet. I already knew and practice #2 but several, like #s 1, 3, and 6 – I still struggle with those. (But substitute MacBook for smartphone.) It made me think of a few things I know that I am still learning are true for me.
I also find it sad that because his book is filled with a whole bunch of nonsense, that’s why it’s a bestseller; that’s why we’re talking. Because that’s how you get on the bestseller list. You promise the moon and stars, you say everything you heard before was wrong, and you blame everything on one thing. You get a scapegoat; it’s classic. Atkins made a fortune with that formula. We’ve got Rob Lustig saying it’s all fructose; we’ve got T. Colin Campbell [author of The China Study, a formerly bestselling book] saying it’s all animal food; we now have Perlmutter saying it’s all grain. There’s either a scapegoat or a silver bullet in almost every bestselling diet book.
Unforeseen things will occur and you will inevitably deviate from your plan, this is organic, and it is a good thing. It is what keeps the game interesting.
Kenneth Koch reading “You Want A Social Life With Friends“ (2000)
One of my favorite poems appears in the book on page 144. It is called So You Want A Social Life With Friends, and it is by Kenneth Koch. In the fall of 2000, I had the privilege of recording Mr. Koch reading this poem in his Upper East Side apartment for an audio magazine project I was working on. I used a tiny Radio Shack tape recorder, and take full responsibility for the lack of high sound quality. (But I do admit I like the crackling and soundproof-lessness.) He was an impeccable, flawless reader—we were finished in two or three takes. Though he had been reluctant to agree to our session, once underway, he was a gracious, charismatic host. He had set up a nice tray with glasses of grapefruit juice. Fitting, because the whole thing was bittersweet. Mr. Koch died a year later. I believe this is one of his last recordings.
Amazing! One of my favorite poems, too.
I once heard a writer say that the only punctuation mark that we ever need is a period.
The truth is, nobody in their right minds doesn’t want to punch the Whos in the face around the third “Dahoo Dores,” cloying little snots that they are.
From Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust, the Rule of 50 will change your life:
Nobody is going to get any points in heaven by slogging their way through a book they aren’t enjoying but think they ought to read. I live by what I call ‘the rule of fifty,’ which acknowledges that time is short and the…
When to give up on a book you’re reading
It’s a cycle. You start a story, and it’s stupid. You don’t have any ideas. You’re washed up. Finished. And then you get a sliver of an idea, but it’s kind of dumb. Ugh. Then you start working it, and it becomes, oh, maybe. Alright. Yeah, I am going to finish this story. I did finish it! It’s not terrible! [Then] you don’t have any ideas. Is that what life is? It’s just a series of enacting the cycle. Lately, it’s become kind of wonderful to say, ‘Yeah, so now I’m at the point where I don’t have any ideas. Is is a crisis? No, it’s not a crisis. You’ve been here before. And maybe even you could enjoy that moment when you’re bereft of ideas… The goal would be to keep enacting that [cycle], live to 190, and put the period on the best story ever.
One of the things I learned about the world of art,” Teller says, “is there are people who really want to believe in magic, that artists are supernatural beings—there was some guy who could walk up and do that. But art is work like anything else—concentration, physical pain. Part of the subject of this movie is that a great work of art should seem to have magically sprung like a miracle on the wall. But to get that miracle is an enormous, aggravating pain.” To see Vermeer as “a god” makes him “a discouraging bore,” Teller went on. But if you think of him as a genius artist and an inventor, he becomes a hero: “Now he can inspire.
Do not mistake coincidence for fate. Also, never ignore a coincidence. Unless you’re busy, in which case, always ignore a coincidence.
“Our whole life is an attempt to discover when our spontaneity is whimsical, sentimental irresponsibility and when it is a valid expression of our deepest desires and values.” Helen Merell Lynd
If I step back from it, then of course it’s complete nonsense. But I always think that it’s important that when you watch Doctor Who, you are completely invested in it. You’re emotional: wiping away a tear, frightened, laughing your socks off. All that stuff.
There’s a saying about fridge logic - that when you go to the fridge afterwards, you’re thinking ‘ah, that didn’t really work’. My response always to fridge logic is: who fucking cares? If you’re still thinking about it by the time you’ve got to the fridge, the show has already won.
They say be careful what you wish for: no. Don’t be careful what you wish for. Absolutely wish for stuff. It’s good. Nothing wrong with that.
David Suchet likes to think of life as a spider’s web. The spider, you see, spins his web from behind; he can’t see what he’s creating. “The only time he can check what led to what is when he turns around,” says Suchet pensively. “So in our life. We don’t know what we’re spinning, what we touch, what we do…”
… I learned a very simple way of keeping myself on the right path. That was to ask myself regularly throughout the day “Is this God’s will?” without seeking for a precise answer. What I found was that my actions would change in response to the question, a bit like a sailing boat responding to the helm.