The Blogging Team: You, me, us…

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Blogging is not only a new technology of writing; it’s also a new way of reading. In Christian antiquity, reading was a social activity, not a wholly private one. The earliest recorded incident of silent reading is found in Augustine’s Confessions. Augustine relates with astonishment Ambrose’s habit of reading in silence, a practice he had never seen before: “When he read, his eyes scanned the page and his heart sought out the meaning, but his voice was silent and his tongue was still.”…

In the world of Web 2.0, the ideal of the solitary reader is waning fast. Blogging is a kind of reading-together. It is the formation of a new kind of community of reading. No longer is reading an activity reserved for the private study, that carefully crafted space where thought is cultivated under conditions of silence, leisure, economic privilege. To read a blog is to participate in a collective reading process: on any given day, we all read the same post, the same thread of comments and responses. Such reading is far removed from solitude: the reading is understood primarily as a stimulus to conversation, criticism, discussion. Here, reading is not so much an end in itself as the means to a particular form of community. The very act of reading thus becomes a collective project…

~ Ben Myers, Blogging as a Technology of the Self


Notes:

 

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

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Too often, convinced of our own intelligence, we stay in a comfort zone that ensures that we never feel stupid (and are never challenged to learn or reconsider what we know). It obscures from view various weaknesses in our understanding, until eventually it’s too late to change course. This is where the silent toll is taken.

Each of us faces a threat as we pursue our craft. Like sirens on the rocks, ego sings a soothing, validating song— which can lead to a wreck. The second we let the ego tell us we have graduated, learning grinds to a halt. That’s why Frank Shamrock said, “Always stay a student.” As in, it never ends.

~ Ryan Holiday, excerpt from his new book “Ego is the Enemy” published June, 2016.


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Blogger’s Creed

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I’ve never met Patricia Salamone and not sure how she found me.  She left a comment on a post and it stuck.


“I married, raised 3 children, worked for many years and wrote in my spare time. Don’t ask me how I ever had spare time but it was mostly in the wee hours of the morning. I sent a few stories to magazines but they always got rejected. I continued to write but never sent anything in again. I wrote because I loved it. Then I retired, my children all finished University, got married and started families. I had plenty of time on my hands and a computer so I wrote, and I still write.

Although my writing is raw and I have not been schooled in writing, I did have a book published: The Italian Thing. It was not edited and it was my first try. It is a humorous memoir about a trip to Naro, Sicily and meeting our family members that live there, for the first time. We have many adventures and misadventures but in the end we had a marvelous and unforgettable trip.

…I write because I love it, and that’s good enough for me. I will probably will never make much money at it, but a few things were published and my words are out there forever even when I’m gone. I’m happy.  :o)”


Thank you Patricia. For the inspiration.

Patricia’s a WordPress blogger at this handle: The Writers Desk.

Writer’s Block


For a complete list of the 53 films used: Writer’s Block – A supercut. (Thank you Steve)

to let silence spiral deeper into silence

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All of us, child or adult, need time to find our way to that heavenly gate, time to sit back and listen to the sounds outside, and to our own, half-formed thoughts, to attend to the call of the birds and the roar of the air conditioner, and to our own interior voices as well: to let silence spiral deeper into silence. Mary Oliver writes about this beautifully in her book, Winter Hours.

In the act of writing the poem, I am obedient, and submissive. Insofar as one can, I put aside ego and vanity, and even intention. I listen. What I hear is almost a voice, almost a language. It is a second ocean, rising, singing into one’s ear, or deep inside the ears, whispering in the recesses where one is less oneself than a part of some single indivisible community. Blake spoke of taking dictation. I am no Blake, yet I know the nature of what he meant.

The speedy modern reader may not realize it, but poetry comes to us like the holy infant, wrapped in swaddling bands of silence. There is silence, often, in the place where it is made, or at most, a slow heart beat. There is silence in the thought that greets particular words and phrases, and in the care with which they’re weighed and pondered, and again in their particular layout on the page. And finally there’s the silence that surrounds the reading of the poem, and in the quiet intake of breath with which, so often, the poem is received. For all the emphasis that is placed on words and imagery, poems need that silence, as a painting needs the naked canvas, or music needs the pause between the notes. Most poets know this, in however inchoate a way. They slow down, they listen, they learn to pay attention. They root themselves in what the Celtic bard Taliesen called “the cave of silence” from which all words are born.

~ Christian McEwen, World Enough & Time: On Creativity and Slowing Down


Notes:

 

Lightly child, lightly

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I always get up and make a cup of coffee while it is still dark—it must be dark—and then I drink the coffee and watch the light come…. Writers all devise ways to approach that place where they expect to make the contact, where they become the conduit, or where they engage in this mysterious process. For me, light is the signal in the transition. It’s not being in the light, it’s being there before it arrives. It enables me, in some sense.

~ Toni Morrison, excerpted from Roderick MacIver’s Art As a Way of Life

Notes:

  • Poem: Thank you Roderick MacIver
  • Photo: Kat Mix (via Banished From Camelot).
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

The virtue of hard things

Most people would think of John Irving as a gifted wordsmith. He is the author of best-selling novels celebrated for their Dickensian plots, including “The Cider House Rules” and “The World According to Garp.” But Mr. Irving has severe dyslexia, was a C-minus English student in high school and scored 475 out of 800 on the SAT verbal test. How, then, did he have such a remarkably successful career as a writer?

Angela Duckworth argues that the answer is “grit,” which she defines as a combination of passion and perseverance in the pursuit of a long-term goal. The author, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has spent the past decade studying why some people have extraordinary success and others do not. “Grit” is a fascinating tour of the psychological research on success and also tells the stories of many gritty exemplars, from New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff, who submitted some 2,000 drawings to the magazine before one was accepted, to actor Will Smith, who explains his success as follows: “The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is: I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. . . . If we get on the treadmill together, there’s two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die.”

As for Mr. Irving, though verbal fluency did not come easily to him as a young man, what he lacked in aptitude he made up for in effort. In school, if his peers allotted one hour to an assignment, he devoted two or three. As a writer, he works very slowly, constantly revising drafts of his novels. “In doing something over and over again,” he has said, “something that was never natural becomes almost second nature.”

~ Emily Esfahani Smith, in an excerpt from The Virtue of Hard Things, a book review of Angela Duckworth’s new book “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance


Portrait of John Irving: CBC

It’s been a long day

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I emphasize this.
I will do anything to avoid boredom.
It is the task of a lifetime.
You can never know enough,
never work enough,
never use the infinitives and participles oddly enough,
never impede the movement harshly enough,
never leave the mind quickly enough.

—Anne Carson, “Introduction.” Short Talks, 1992


Notes:

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

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Two years from now I can hear people saying: Your play is extraordinary. And my answer: It took me ten years to perfect my craftsmanship. I am wrestling with giants here. Every morning I wake up in a sweat, ready for the struggle. The impact is great, but I am never defeated. It is the rehearsals I miss, to attend them and see the progress the actors make. My being there is an absolute necessity. My eye and ear criticize every move and every intonation. I listen to the “commas” of the play as if they were drops falling from a fountain. Dis moi comment vont tout tes affaires. I am alone.

~ James Salter, Light Years


Notes:

Monday Morning: An Insistent Beat

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Where was I when it started.
At my desk?
Scribbling in a notebook?
On the bus?
I don’t remember.
Just the sense of something bubbling up from underneath,
not words so much as information:
an ache,
a rhythm,
an instant beat.

~ Christian McEwen, World Enough & Time: On Creativity and Slowing Down


Notes:

 

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