Impeded streams baffle and employ our minds
"The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings." -Wendell Berry
Entertainment writers are out on strike. Media companies are collapsing. Banks are failing. I wonder what it all means. We’ve had these types of disturbances to the system before. How is today any different?
I might suggest that the severity of some of the problems we’re facing is what distinguishes our time. Climate change and its ravages are real. Wanton gun violence is obscene. The humanitarian crises at the border are brutal and unnecessary. The Supreme Court and our local, state, and federal governing bodies are corrupt to the core. People lack food, housing, and health care. There are currently 32 nations engaged in some kind of war. Let’s stop there. There are more than enough “impeded streams,” as poet Wendell Berry said, to baffle and employ our minds.
It’s easy to get spun up in all the dramas we encounter on screens, at work, or just going to the grocery store. Don’t you think? It’s much harder to remain centered and calm as the chaos swirls, which is why many of us find yoga, walking, cooking, gardening, fishing, playing music, and reading books (and other activities designed to enrich the body and mind) so incredibly helpful. The idea is to take care of yourself in whatever way is best for you, so you’re in a good strong place when the fragrant or the foul winds blow.
Story is such strong medicine
An interview with novelist Leslie Marmon Silko was recently featured in The New Yorker. She spoke eloquently about her writing and life.
About storytelling, she said:
I think of storytelling as a part of healing. The body of healing stories and storytelling are held communally and are practiced together and always have been.
Marmon Silko knows how to conjure magic on and off the page.
About her green thumb (and the need for it), she said:
I’ve been painting lately, but that’s just because I don’t have a 401(k). Luckily, I have a bit of a green thumb when it comes to hemp, or cannabis. So I can save money. I decided I can’t make money, but the thing I could do was save money by growing my own and so forth and painting little paintings.
This is one of the great American novelists of our time, in case you’re curious about how well writing pays. Of course, how well writing pays is rarely the point for writers who are deeply committed to their work. These working writers find a way to get paid and a way to write.
Another literary legend, Jamaica Kincaid, said:
A professional writer is a joke. You write because you can’t do anything else, and then you have another job… A lot of American writing is crap. And a lot of American writers are professionals. Writing is not a profession. It’s a calling. It’s almost holy.
Devotion to craft and an enduring belief in the value of sharing stories. Writing is “almost holy.”
Serious readers are seriously slow readers
I like this praise of super slow reading from Ted Gioia:
The books I read must be savored and slowly digested. Proust is one of my favorite authors, but I could only handle his ultra-dense writing in small doses. So I read through his 2,000-page novel at the pace of seven pages per day. I started when I was a teenager, and got to the final page shortly before my 30th birthday.
Say it on one clean sheet
The Broadside is a form of street literature, a public work of art designed to be read outdoors. The Broadside has played a fundamental role in educating and instigating revolutionary social, literary, and political movements.
I’m thinking of printing some of my recent poems in this format. More on this next month.
Read “MORE KOOL-AID,” a new prose poem.
Do you want to listen to live broadcasts from New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival this weekend? WWOZ has you covered. #yeahyouright
ICYMI, as many as 300 million full-time jobs—many of them clerical—could be automated in some way by the newest wave of artificial intelligence that has spawned platforms like ChatGPT, according to Goldman Sachs economists.
Cal Newport reports that Danielle Steele, a writer of more than 190 books that have cumulatively sold over 800 million copies, is addicted to performance and success, and refuses to step away from her keyboard.
8th Wonder Brewery in Houston released the first two Hemp-Derived Delta-8 THC & CBD Seltzers in Texas.
Bias Against Aging People, Like All Bias, Is Idiotic and Unproductive \\ [from Adpulp.com]
Thanks for being here now,
When you’re ready to run for office, launch a brand, grow a business, or spark a social change movement, let me know. I’d like to lend a hand.