Saturday Morning

dreamy_horse-480x360

There were a lot of other things he no longer had to deal with.
He was like one of those horses,
who having shaken off the jockey,
slow down, dreamily, to a gentle trot,
while the others are still bursting their lungs
in pursuit of a finish line and an order of arrival.

Alessandro Baricco, from Mr. Gwyn


Notes: Photo Source. Quote: The Journey of Words

Unread. And looming.

books-reading-illustration-gif

My reading backlog, tweaking me, ever present, ever growing.
Unread books on night stand.
Unread eBooks slumbering on my Kindle.
Unread magazines. Hard copy + digital.
Unread newspapers. Hard copy + digital.
Unread articles and blog posts on my Pocket App and Evernote App.
Unread emails in a reading folder on gmail.
All swelling, bulging, throbbing – an alien blob slime slowly cutting oxygen.

Kooser chanting: I travel the endless reaches of my ignorance, all of the books I haven’t read, and never will, come rolling at me out of the dark like a hail of asteroids.

Apparently, I don’t suffer my affliction alone:

“Many people are drowning in magazines, articles, newsletters, books and blogs they want or need to read. Is it possible to get to Magazine Zero?…”

“Three in four people say they feel overwhelmed some or all of the time by too much information from magazines, newspapers and other media…”

“Everybody has this deep dark feeling that they aren’t keeping up…”

“I hope at some point I’ll catch up…”

Read more on how others are coping here: How to Declutter Your Magazine Pile: Prioritize and ‘ABR —always be reading” with digital apps and iPods


Image Source: sentimientos-en-el-aire

David Carr: Try harder. Create something with your own dirty little hands.

david-carr

David Carr died last week. He overcame drug addiction, survived cancer and struggled with alcoholism. He was a best selling author, a top media columnist at The New York Times and a member of the faculty at Boston University’s communications school.  He was a “mentor to young reports and a blunt critic of those who didn’t measure up.” Here’s a excerpt from today’s paper:

NY Times: David Carr’s Last Word on Journalism, Aimed at Students:

David was interested in people, not their résumés. He didn’t care where someone went to college or who their parents were. So instead of giving his students a standard biographical blurb…David told them this, under the heading “Not need to know, but nice to know”:

“Your professor is a terrible singer and a decent dancer. He is a movie crier but stone-faced in real life. He never laughs even when he is actually amused. He hates suck-ups, people who treat waitresses and cab drivers poorly and anybody who thinks diversity is just an academic conceit. He is a big sucker for the hard worker and is rarely dazzled by brilliance. He has little patience for people who pretend to ask questions when all they really want to do is make a speech…Your professor is fair, fundamentally friendly, a little odd, but not very mysterious. If you want to know where you stand, just ask.”

He encouraged teamwork. “While writing, shooting, and editing are often solitary activities, great work emerges in the spaces between people,” David wrote, adding, “Evaluations will be based not just on your efforts, but on your ability to bring excellence out of the people around you…”

Mikaela Lefrak, 26, was his teaching assistant his first semester. “He didn’t want us to sound like everyone else,” she wrote in an email. “He wanted us to sound better. Extended metaphors should be indulged and encouraged — the stranger, the better. And clichés were poison. ‘Try harder,’ he told me constantly. ‘Create something with your own dirty little hands…’ ”

David warned there would be a heavy reading list. “I’m not sliming you with a bunch of textbooks, so please know I am dead serious about these readings,” he wrote. “Skip or skim at your peril.”

I encourage you to read the entire article. You can find it here:  David Carr’s Last Word on Journalism, Aimed at Students.

His best selling book, “The Night of the Gun,” is a memoir of addiction and recovery. I highly recommend it.  Maria Popova at Brain Pickings shared some excellent excerpts from the book in her post: Addiction to Truth.

And here are links to some of my favorite quotes by Carr:

Carr lived in New Jersey with Jill Rooney Carr and their three children. He was 58. As Scott Peck would say, he took the road less traveled and many of us are better for it.

RIP.


Credits: Photograph of David Carr in 2008 –  NY Times

 

About right

books-library-read-funny


Source: ilovecharts

Mommy!

child-writing-at-school

He headed for the school still wrapped in the warmth of this bed, the taste of cereal in his mouth, tightly holding the hand just above his head, walking as quickly as he could, taking two steps for his mother’s one, his little knapsack bouncing on his back, then came the school door, the rapid kiss goodbye, the asphalt playground with its rows of maples, the clanging bell . . . at first he took shelter from the rain under the overhang, then he joined the schoolyard games, but a few minutes later they all found themselves sitting behind Lilliputian desks, quiet and no moving around, all the body’s movements concentrated on the effort of moving the pencil down this low-ceilinged corridor called the line. Tongue stuck out, fingers numb and wrist stiff . . . little bridges, circles, tails, sticks, more little bridges … he is miles from his mother now, lost in this strange solitude called effort, in the company of all those other solitudes with their tongues stuck out . . . and now the first letters are assembled . . . lines of “a’s,” lines of “m’s,” of “q’s” (the “q” is no joke with its diving, backwards tail, but it’s a piece of cake compared to the “s” with its treacherous curves, and the “k” with its spray of lines shooting out every which way), all the difficult ones conquering so that, little by little, as if they were magnetized, the letters come together spontaneously into syllables, lines of mom and dad, and the syllables making words . . . Then, one day, his ears still humming from the commotion of the lunchroom, he contemplated the silent flowering of the word of white paper, there, before his eyes: mommy.

In a voice that quavered at first, he stumbled over the two syllables, separately. “Mom-my.” Then, suddenly, he understood. “Mommy!”… Little bridges, circles and slanting sticks . . . and you could say “Mommy!” There it was, written, right there, and he had done it! Not a combination of syllables, not a word or concept anymore. It wasn’t any mother, it was his mother, a magical transformation, infinitely more eloquent than the most faithful photographic likeness, built from nothing but circles and sticks and bridges, that have now suddenly – and forever! – become more than scratches on paper.  They have become her presence, her voice, the good way she smelled in the morning, her lap, that infinity of details, that wholeness, so intimately absolute, and so absolutely foreign as to what is written there, on the rails of the page, within the four walls of the classroom.

Lead into gold.
Nothing less.
He had just turned lead into gold.

~ Daniel Pennac, Better Than Life


Notes:

 

Le Petit Prince

animation-pet-meditation-boy-dog

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s 1943 classic The Little Prince is one of the best-selling books of all time.  It has now been adapted into a papercraft animated film scheduled for release in 2015.  Here’s a short (and beautiful) French trailer of what’s coming.

Find the English language film trailer for The Little Prince here: The Little Prince Trailer


Credits: Thank you SensualStarfish

That’s all gone now!

napoleon

In my own case it’s taken me years to cultivate self-control to prevent my emotions from betraying themselves. Only a short time ago I was the conqueror of the world, commanding the largest and finest army of modern times. That’s all gone now! To think I kept all my composure, I might even say preserved my unvarying high spirits … You don’t think that my heart is less sensitive than those of other men. I’m a very kind man but since my earliest youth I have devoted myself to silencing that chord within me that never yields a sound now. If anyone told me when I was about to begin a battle that my mistress whom I loved to distraction was breathing her last, it would leave me cold. Yet my grief would be just as great as if I had the time. Without this self-control, do you think I could have done all I’ve done?

~ Napoleon (in a letter to Louis-Mathieu Mole)


Source: “Napoleon, A Life” by Andrew Roberts (An Amazon Best Book of the Month, November, 2014) via Leading Blog

He was in love with the world

Mike-Nichols

His closest friends this week marveled at the depth of the impression he made on all whose lives he touched. “He’d make you feel you were better than you believed—smarter, funnier, more alive…” A friend noted something else: his unbounded excitement about life, his ability to retain a freshness, an innocence. “It was always possible that this was going to be the best dumpling, the best conversation, this play was going to have a moment in it we’d never forget. . . . He was in love with the world. He was in love with Egg McMuffins ! He took such joy in what was. Maybe the Buddhists have it wrong, maybe the great livers are the ones who love things, too—that book, that painting, the McDonald’s breakfast.

A thing that distinguished Mike professionally is that he thought he had to know things. He came up in a generation that thought to know the theater you have to know the theater. They read. He read, all his life. He knew the canon—his Chekhov, Ibsen and Molière, his Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams and Tom Stoppard…

…To make great art you have to know great art. And so his learned, highly cultivated mind. He dropped out of the University of Chicago and sought to teach himself through great books and smart people. Great writers and directors have to start as great readers or it won’t work, nothing needed from the past will be brought into the future, and art will become thinner, less deep, less meaningful and so, amazingly, less fun, less moving and true.

~ Peggy Noonan, on Mike Nichols

Read entire opinion article here: The Pleasure of His Company


Mike Nichols, 83, died on November 19, 2014. He was a German-born American film and theatre director, producer, actor and comedian. He won the Academy Award for Best Director for the film The Graduate. His other films include Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?Catch-22Carnal KnowledgeSilkwoodWorking GirlThe BirdcageCloserCharlie Wilson’s War (his final picture), and the TV mini-series Angels in America. He also staged the original theatrical productions of The Apple TreeBarefoot in the ParkLuvThe Odd Couple and Spamalot. As well as winning an Academy Award, Nichols won a Grammy Award, four Emmy Awards and nine Tony Awards. He was one of a small group of people who have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award.

Image Credit: jewishcurrents.org

Let me get back to you on this

anne-lamott

Who knows, maybe those two rogue leaders, Gandhi and Jesus, were right – a loving response changes the people who would beat the shit out of you, including yourself, of course. Their way, of the heart, makes everything bigger. Decency and goodness are subversively folded into the craziness, like caramel ribbons into ice cream. Otherwise, it’s about me, and my bile ducts, and how unique I am and how I’ve suffered. And that is what hell is like.  So whom was I going to echo, Gandhi and Jesus, or Tammy and me?

Look, can you give me a minute to decide?

Do you want to be happy, or do you want to be right? Hmm. Let me get back to you on this.

~ Anne Lamott. “Pirates.” Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace


I just finished Lamott’s new book and loved it. It’s my first foray into her work. Be forewarned, this book has more than its fair share of suffering and grief, but the sun’s rays do peak in. I’m drawn to her rants and her candor on her neuroses (but could have  done without the political barbs). I marvel at the authenticity of her self-reflection and the beauty and clarity of her observations of life.  The book roars out of the gate for the first half and tends to run out of steam.  For Lamott lovers, you should note that this book is a compilation of new and selected (aka previously published) essays.

Find the book on Amazon here: Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace


Photo Credit: TimeOut

 

Books


Unfortunately, I didn’t understand a word* that was spoken on this short clip, but loved it anyway. The writer and producer of this film, Lou Salloum, explains that this film is a reflective narrative inspired by Matthew 6:6. This short film reminded me of a quote by Richard Powers on Reading in an interview by The Paris Review:

It’s an invisible, sedate, almost inert process. Reading is the last act of secular prayer. Even if you’re reading in an airport, you’re making a womb unto yourself—you’re blocking the end results of information and communication long enough to be in a kind of stationary, meditative aspect.


* Updated on Thanksgiving Day Nov 27, 2014. Lou Salloum was kind enough to offer an English translation.

Think of the things you are thinking about because you are more than just your thoughts. Life is weird, especially when you’re present in someone else’s imagination, thinking it’s the only place one ought to be alive. Find a place, create this place, where you can find yourself. A place where you can know who you are and discover what you could become. A place where you can hear the cry of pain in the beauty of this world, and find hope in the agony of this generation. A place, where you reflect and discover your own heart. Away from everything around you, everyone within you. At first, you may find it hard, but when you do take this quiet time alone, away, something magnificent will happen.

Inspired by Matthew 6:6