Sunday, September 30, 2007
Saturday, September 29, 2007
quite sure he could pin it.
He was up for the match,
determined to win it.
The croc went down flat,
stomach up in a minute;
Sadly for Vin,
he was already in it.
Copyright 1995 Dave Peterson
Used with permission.
Friday, September 28, 2007
In an effort to protect His integrity (He had already declared all things good) He broke white light up into sections and called it color. This was how the color blue came into being.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
May 6, 1993
It's interesting to stumble upon this journal note this a.m. because last Friday evening in our philosophy club we gave attention to this very discussion. We have been listening to a series of lectures called The Great Ideas of Philosophy, and this month's lecture was on Augustine. Augustine injected an intellectual vigor back into the early church. Noting that although God cannot be perceived or achieved via Reason, the notion of God is not inconsistent with Reason or unreasonable.
At one point, the matter which Larry King struggled with was addressed. Dr. Robinson, the lecturerer, illustrated how it is possible for predictability to not be determinism. In other words, God can know the future without making it happen.
The reality is, that if the will were not free, we'd have a new dilemma: how can I be accountable for what I do?
It is fascinating to wrestle with these issues. Occassionally they result in some spirited debates. The quest for truth and meaning are worthy pursuits. Ultimately, we are seeking a basis for hope, a hope that is real and does not disappoint us.
"Squeezing life to wring out from it all I can take from each day."
May 18, 1993
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Anyways, kudos to all who have immersed themselves in the activity of blogging. Blogging is about communication and communication is an important skill in society. Whether the public sector or the private sector, learning how to put your nebulous ideas in clear, concise language is a must for success. Use your blogging to improve this skill... and to find your voice. Who knows? You might just change the world.
Monday, September 24, 2007
June 24, 1993
Sunday, September 23, 2007
You are undoubtedly familiar with those questionaires designed to make us reveal all kinds of personal things about ourselves... favorite color, favorite food, etc. I don't really care for all these kinds of chain letters, but I did find a question on one of these quite interesting. How many scars do you have?
The first scars that came to mind were the most visible, followed by a few private scars. It took a little work to remember the one I am going to tell you about here. It has to do with this picture of a tricycle.
Seems like we spent hours riding around on our tricycles on our little driveway back home in Maple Heights, Ohio. One day when I was three, maybe four, years old I was riding with a dowel in my mouth. This is the tip of the day: Do not let your kids ride around on a trike with a dowel in their mouths. They probably should not run with a stick in their mouths either.
You can already guess where this is going. We're talkin' scars, baby. I have a scar on the roof of my mouth, penetrated by a wooden dowel the size of a thin pencil. My memory of the incident is forgotten, but the following six months or more will never be forgotten as the tip of my tongue continually returned to feel the crater, fascinated by the feel and strangeness of it.
Alas, live and learn, as they say. No permanent damage. Just a little adventure along life's way. As mom ever used to say: "Boys will be boys."
Friday, September 21, 2007
Among the most profound writers of fiction in the 20th century is a remarkable Argentinian, Jorge Luis Borges. Like all the great writers, he is steeped in the classic tradition. His story "There Are More Things" is extracted from a line in Hamlet. His references to Cervantes and other greats are too numerous to catalog.
But most significantly, his influence on his peers and those who follow in his wake extends globally to wherever fine literature can be found. Italo Calvino, Umberto Eco, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez are just three 20th century literary masters who tip their hats to Borges as their fountain of inspiration. The school of "Fantastic Realism" owes its debt to him as well.
If you seek stories outside the humdrum, that explore beneath the surface of things so as to stir up the unimaginable and make it yet more real than the Real itself, I recommend Borges with a full heart.
The quotes on this page today are from various essays by Borges, though the collections of short stories were what established him. My first encounter with Borges was the 1970-71 Fall Winter edition of the Antioch Review. Six short pieces like staccato gun bursts.
Some of my own short stories found their impetus in an idea that germinated from seeds Borges has sown. Readers who know the man's work will readily hear the echoes in these stories of my own:
Duel of the Poets http://www.enewman.biz/poetduel.html
The Nonsense Room http://www.enewman.biz/nonsense.html
An Remembered History of the World http://www.enewman.biz/unro.html
In the meantime, here are some additional quotes and excerpts from Borges that will help give you a sense of his flavor.
"The original is unfaithful to the translation." On Henley's translation of Beckford's Vathek, 1943
"Music, states of happiness, mythology, faces belabored by time, certain twilights and certain places try to tell us something, or have said something we should not have missed, or are about to say something; this imminence of a revelation which does not occur is, perhaps, the aesthetic phenomenon." ~ Essay: "The Wall and the Books"
"It is venturesome to think that a coordination of words (philosophies are nothing more than that) can resemble the universe very much. It is also venturesome to think that of all these illustrious coordinations, one of them -- at least in an infinitesimal way -- does not resemble the universe a bit more than the others." ~ Essay: "The Avatars of the Tortoise"
"A man sets out to draw the world. As the years go by, he peoples a space with images of provinces, kingdoms, mountains, bays, ships, islands, fishes, rooms, instruments, stars, horses, and individuals. A short time before he dies, he discovers that the patient labyrinth of lines traces the lineaments of his own face." ~ Afterword to El hacedor, 1960
"Of course, like all young men, I tried to be as unhappy as I could -- a kind of Hamlet and Raskolnikov rolled into one." ~ Autobiographical essay 1970
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
I had been in Bible school for several years, immersed in the Christian scene, but somewhat divorced from the academic intellectual atmosphere of my college years at Ohio University. At O.U. I had become immersed in Camus, Kafka, Nietzsche, Vonnegut, Sartre and the whole modern art oeuvre.
Whereas it can be true that Christians can also have intellectual strength, it is easy to get surrounded by a lot of lightweight reading material as well. At a certain point in time a friend of mine had been reading a Hemingway book with amazement at its power. The seed sown, I soon found myself picking up a copy of Hemingway’s first book of short stories, In Our Time. It would be an understatement to say it felt like I had been hit in the face with a fist.
I read the book through two and a half times straight. In certain stories I found myself analyzing the sentences, the structure, the force with which he hurled words at the reader, yet the simplicity of it all. I was amazed at the amount of tension created in his story The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife, with so few brush strokes. I wondered where the Christians were who could write like this.
The second book that influenced me at the time was Sherwood Wirt’s You Can Tell the World. Wirt had been editor of Billy Graham’s Decision magazine for many years. He, too, had a desire to see more power in Christian writing. More meat, more bite. He had undoubtedly seen plenty of insipid material flow across his desk over the years that was well intentioned but impotent. He says as much right up front. “The demand for Christian writing of quality far exceeds the supply.”
He goes on to say, “The simple expedient of seeking advice from the right people can make all the difference to an aspiring writer.” And such was I.
In the very first chapter he emphasizes the importance of being ourselves immersed in great literature before we can attempt to produce great literature. That is, if we do not know what great writing looks like how can we ourselves hope to produce it? He speaks of the influence of Darwin, Marx, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Hemingway, Camus and even Hitler. Their prose was powerful indeed, for it did not simply titillate the senses. It moved people to action.
If it is your desire to write, and to write with power, whether in business or the arts or for whatever purposes that drive you… follow the path that others have trod. Read the classics. Study the manner in which ideas are assembled, and how language really works. Hemingway, despite his personal faults, be sheer force of will re-oriented modern literature.
I do not know what the catalyst will be for you, but these two books really lit my fuse.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Isn't that what blogging is to some extent? A personal living expression in words and images, ongoing and ever continuing. When you cease to be enriched, you're free to turn away. The best books, and best blogs, keep us coming back for more, knowing that we will get a satisfying return on the investment of our time.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Watched The Natural last night with Robert. A number of good lines. "I believe we all have two lives... the life we learn with and the life we live with after that." Good line. But what about now? When does "the life we live with after that" begin?
Another interesting statement. "I didn't see it coming. I should have seen it coming." Some things that happen to us seem to have no foreshadowing even when in fact they do.
Interesting, too, that the movie ends with an upbeat heroic end and altogether differently from the book.
Why do people want to be famous? Roy Hobbs wanted that... to be the best that ever was. Why? Iris challenges him: "Why does that matter so much to you? Isn't it good enough to know you were good?"
Oct 1, 2000
Too often we chase treasure at the ends of the earth when there are acres of diamonds right here at our feet. Open your eyes and see where true value lies.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
Have you ever felt that way? You have things in your heart to share, but with all these voices, all this noise, what's the use? You feel as if you are saying something so obvious it hardly bears repeating. What's the point? Is it foolishness? To be one more voice, insignificant as a drop of rain in the Rocky Mountains, for one vain moment dashing itself pitifully into the massive granite heart of a continent... A continent! One drop, exploding in useless splendor, colliding with a whole continent set in its ways. Is this not the ultimate futility?
Perhaps. But then again, perhaps there is a waiting seed, expectant, hungering, thirsting, languishing for that drop, that single drop of nourishment to gain the strength to break free from the confines of its tiny prison shell of self, to burst asunder the bonds of death and darkness, into life. As this seedling to sapling grows, it reaches up to grasp gloriously in daily snatches the light of life, rejoicing now that it, too, can fulfill its destiny and purpose in being.
So it is that the words we offer have the power to give hope and life. And our speaking is not in vain.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
~ I Corinthians 13:12a
Imagine a flock of blackbirds in flight. Several friends, upon spying the small cloud of birds, attempt to guess their number. One guesses twenty-five or so. Another guesses 20. A third insists there were at least thirty. But none of them, due to the brevity of their observation, is able to say with certainty the precise number of blackbirds they witnessed.
They discuss their experience for several minutes when one of them says, "How do we know we saw any blackbirds? None of us is in agreement. Maybe we didn't see any blackbirds at all." The others all agree that this fellow is a silly fool if he believes that kind of thinking.
And yet, the very same reasoning is used against the Church today, is it not? People have observed that the various denominations have differing ideas about Christian truth, about how to serve communion, about which Bible doctrines are most important. From here they sometimes draw a conclusion that Christianity and our ideas about God are whatever we want it to be. They conclude that truth is arbitrary and that we can choose to believe whatever we like, because one can never know for sure.
The reality, however, is wholly other. Moral truth is not arbitrary. We see its outlines in the cumulative understanding of all persons of conscience.
There was a definite number of blackbirds, even if we are not entirely in agreement as to what that number was. No logical person would conclude from our lack of agreement that there were no blackbirds at all. Or that there was an indefinite number of birds.
The quantity of birds was specific, even if we cannot say with certainty what that specific number was. So it is with God and truth. God is a being with very definite attributes.
Agnostics are fond of saying "We can't know whether there is a God." And many there are who say God is whatever you want him to be. But alas, that would be like saying there were as many blackbirds as we want there to be, instead of acknowledging that there was a specific number.
The Scriptures state clearly that if we seek Him we shall find Him. That is to say, we can know more and more what God is like. God has attributes and qualities that we can discover and know with greater clarity. And while we may only see through a glass darkly in this lifetime, there are many of us who have seen His hand at work, have heard His voice, even if only dimly, and know that one day we shall know Him, just as we could have counted -- if given the opportunity -- the precise number of those blackbirds.
July 11, 2002
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Can you send me a note telling where you shared it?
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Monday, September 10, 2007
The following is a piece of flash fiction written in a rather unconventional manner. All of the sentences from this story have been borrowed from other works of fiction by other authors. It was sort of a word game. For continuity sake I did add a few sentence fragments and used the name Harry Gold in all the places where needed. I think it interesting how a sentence, placed in a new context connotes new meanings through the reconfigured relationship. And now...
The rule of "nothing unessential" is the first condition of great art. --Andre Gide
After dinner Harry Gold reads us the last two chapters of his La Nuit. The next to last especially seems excellent to us, and Gold reads it very well. Being rich is an occupation in itself, particularly for people who arrive at it via parachute in middle life.
We go out for a walk -- William Williams, Gold and myself. Never has it seemed such a long way to the top of this hill. The road with its tossing broken stones stretches on forever into the distance like a life of agony. It is hot as a furnace on the street and we sweat profusely.
I bring up the question of ownership. "Who owns language? Can a man own words? Sentences? The turn of a phrase?"
Gold's face becomes agitated, defiant. "It's mine now. No matter what they say, it's mine."
It occurs to me that Williams doesn't like this reply, but there are no others to turn to and we are forced to accept it. Gold feels guilty because his work is heavy with borrowing. Ideas, phrases, sentences, even whole paragraphs have been shamelessly appropriated, pilfered without attribution, plagiarized.
Harry adds, in a low voice, "The will of man is unconquerable. Even God cannot conquer it."
I can not bear to see him like this. To myself I think, Why do you do these things? In human affairs every solution only serves to sharpen the problem, to show us more clearly what we are up against. I consider how sages of the future will describe this historic day.
For additional "short shorts" visit: http://www.enewman.biz/thelight.html
For a collection of more serious fiction: http://www.enewman.biz/stories.html
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Back in the 1980's there was a major story on the cover of The Atlantic about cocaine use in America. According to the article, Americans were snorting, inhaling and poking one hundred billion dollars of cocaine into their bodies a year. Reading this stat incited me to write a letter to the editor about the bigger issue it represented, an epidemic of selfishness. My letter to the editor was going to us the cocaine stat to illustrate how self-centered Americans were.
But the next morning, just before mailing this letter, I heard then president Ronald Reagan say in a speech that Americans were the most generous people in the world and that Americans performed two hundred billion dollars worth of volunteer acts per year. Wow! On hearing this, I tore up my letter and realized it was true. There are two cultures side by side in this country. The one is generous with both their money and time. The article on cocaine shone a spotlight on a portion of the other group. But the volunteers never stopped volunteering, wherever the spotlights went.
This morning I woke thinking about the volunteers who keep the local race tracks running and wanted to send them thank you cards. Then I thought about all the organizations in our society that are so very dependent on volunteers, groups that keep snowmobile trails safe, volunteers who perform emergency services -- fire, rescue work -- and the countless chaplains, counsellors, mentors, church workers, soccer and little league coaches. It is remarkable when you think about all the services provided by these unsung heroes.
All this to say, thank you all. We depend on you. Your labors are not in vain. Believe me, you are appreciated more than you will ever realize.
Here are some quotes about volunteers that I found this morning at quotegarden.com
Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer. ~Author Unknown
We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude. ~Cynthia Ozick
The world is hugged by the faithful arms of volunteers. ~Everett Mámor
It's easy to make a buck. It's a lot tougher to make a difference. ~Tom Brokaw
Again, thank you all!
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Having to be humble is such a drag, though. It is so much easier to be a know it all. Why have doubts when you are right?
Today's thought, the real secret to world peace:
Friday, September 7, 2007
May 7, 1994
Net travel quickly became the primary preoccupation in my thoughts. It was part ofevery conversation. My head was filled with questions. How time consuming will it be? How long does it take to learn the protocol for getting around? How accessible is it, really? Will my anticipation lead to disappointment?
The wonders of the Internet are available to all. And an open invitation was extended to anyone with a terminal. Sure there was hype, but there was some substance to the message of those Infobahn Evangelists, too.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Classified ad, August 2007
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Feb 10, 2000
Not yet finished with Immortal Beloved but have reached several of the “Ahas” in the latter part of the movie. The scene of young Beethoven lying in the lake, floating on the water beneath the stars, was wonderfully conceived… the Ode to Joy playing as he reveled in the freedom & music of the spheres, at one with the Universe.
The great “Aha” in the film is learning of his passionate love for a woman who married his brother. His tortured life was filled with rejection, misunderstanding and the difficulties due to his deafness… but this was an especially stinging wound.
Feb 12, 2000
Re-discovering Beethoven. What a wonder this music, squeezed through pores of pain, to enrich the world. It is said that he was possibly the first to create music intended to have an immortal life of its own beyond the life of its composer and first listeners.
Feb 13, 2000
He began going deaf early in his life, suffering from the disease of tinnitus (ringing in the ear) which interfered with his ability to enjoy music and eventually left him completely deaf the last nine years of his life.
When I was about eight years old I began taking piano lessons. I had a piano teacher who early introduced me to the masters. Like so many young piano students I was early drawn to Beethoven and Chopin for their romantic lyricism.
This film, like many tragic films is filled with heartbreakingly beautiful moments. I think here of the scene of anguish with Oldman as Beethoven failing to make it to a pre-arranged tryst because his carriage it stuck in the mud. All throughout we hear the agony of the scene expressed through the music from his Seventh Symphony, second movement. Though the Seventh has always been a favorite, that section will never be the same.
A more recent film on the troubled life of the Maestro is Copying Beethoven. In this film Ed Harris plays the role of revealing new facets of Beethoven’s life that we might not have known about. Though I find Harris a compelling performer in many if not most of his other films, I did not find myself emotionally bonding with this portrayal. Yes, he did his best with the material he had to work with. The supreme wonderment of the Ninth was given ample screen time, but could not entirely save the film for me. I was constantly aware that I was watching men and women playing roles.
Both movies show a man of complex emotions, conflicting drives, a somewhat brutish and impulsive, crude and difficult, yet reflective and humble man of genius with pain in his heart and turmoil in his soul. And yet the music he has created lives on. To what extent did his temporal suffering produce such effervescent and profoundly inspiring compositions? We who would desire to produce similarly great art, in any medium, how deeply are we willing to embrace those sorrows that plow the heart so that the seeds of great achievement might find good soil?
Monday, September 3, 2007
I believe this Annie Dillard quote comes from her book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. She was referring to her memoir writing if I remember correctly, and to all memoir writing in general. This was before the era of blogs and blogging.
Blogging has become an interesting phenomenon, a natural outgrowth of the world wide web. It is popular because it is easy.
Some people have criticized email because it was “destroying language” and wrecking good grammar, good English etc. Well, is it really? Everything has a pro and con, including email and blogging. I think it is great that people are communicating. How many letters would people send in a day if they had to type, print, fold, and insert into an envelope that they must address and stamp? What a hassle. By email, I can maintain contacts with fifty or more people a day. At the office it might be a hundred or more. I certainly receive hundreds there.
Email is easy, therefore more people can do it.
Blogging, likewise, is a heckuva lot easier than building a website. There are hordes or blog sites that will host your creative output. Some are getting a lot of bad press, but maybe it’s because the Press is jealous. More people probably read blogs than read newspapers.
I just heard that if all the people with a MySpace blog were to be named a “country” it would be the 11th largest country in the world, just behind Mexico. (If this stat is incorrect, please feel free to send correction and it will be so done.)
In the mid-nineties I built a website, in part for the experience and in part for the forum where I could display some of my work. I used a software program that was limited in capabilities but easy to use. Ease of use was key.
But even so, most people did not have sufficient motivation to get past the learning curve and although businesses everywhere built websites – almost as necessary as buisiness cards and storefront signage – the individuals with a website were far fewer in number.
Blogs changed all that. Blogs opened possibilities for self expression that seemed infinite in scope. The problem is, how much disclosure is prudent?
For example, when an employee has a problem with the boss, what is gained by filling a blog entry with a 500 word rant? I just heard such an account two weeks ago. What the employee gained was a two week suspension without pay. That, I thought, was pretty generous.
Many people have no sense of boundaries with other facets of their life. Blogs are not intended to be a replacement for journals. In your journal you can do self-analysis and personal psychological assessments. But do you really need to announce to the world your every neurotic tendency, self-destructive fantasies, anguished self-accusations, prideful declarations or hypersensitive assessments of others? Guess what? There are some things we do not need to know. Work it out in private.
As for my blog entries here, if you have been following along, a lot of what I write is excerpted from my journals. You can be sure I am being selective, trying to be helpful or using some ideas and thoughts as a springboard to additional conversation with you, my readers.
In the meantime, blog on.
NOTE: The doodle from Annie Dillard at the top of this page was sent to me as part of my Dandy Yankee Doodles Project. More about that during another space in time.
Get to know more about Annie Dillard at www.anniedillard.com
A collection of quotes for writers from my own website: www.enewman.biz/writing.html
Saturday, September 1, 2007
It's amazing that Dylan is still out there doing the circuit, performing with groups like U2 and Elvis Costello. May you stay forever young, Mr. Dylan
I've been asked how it felt to leave my friends, and I honestly don't remember feeling anything. I was not losing my family or leaving them. When I went to college later I was again not eotionally moved... or rather, my excitement toward what was to come overshadowed any grief I might have felt. Again, in going to Minnesota & later PR and Mexico. In all these moves, the past seemed less important & my attachments to it were loose... As a consequence, my long term friends are few.
January 20, 2000
Our family's move from Cleveland, Ohio to Bridgewater NJ in 1964 was a major transition in my life. When I reflect on my childhood it seems like everything is measured by two really big events... this particular move, and my cross country journey by train when I was eight, from Cleveland to Reno, NV in second grade. (My grandparents took me out of school for three weeks.)
If there is one regret I have in life (just one?) it might be that I did not value my friends more as I travelled through the stages of my life. Or rather, that I did not maintain connections with some of the really wonderful people whose lives touched mine. This particular journal entry seems to note that even from an early age my attachments to my family were primary. I am grateful for the life continuity that family gives one. It must be tragic when parents or children cut one another off. There is certainly something healing and good about long term continuity. For this reason reunions have real value as we're reminded that we are part of something bigger than ourselves.