5:30/5:31, 72/97. Podcast.
11 am. A belated post, the new AT&T cable & wifi system went down last night just in time for me to miss Vandy’s 4-2 loss to Virginia in the College World Series. Coulda gone and sat on the gridiron and watched it on the big board at Dudley Field, but that woulda felt anomalous and weird. I don’t like to mix my sports, and I’m still at war with football anyway.
The latest cable guy – they never send the same one again -just left. Says he’s fixed it this time.
Felt an odd disorientation as I rolled out of bed this morning, remembering that my keyboard would not be responsive before the service call. Almost decided to bag it and not write. Why? Have I become so accustomed to tap-tap-tapping my morning missives that I couldn’t imagine going old-school and writing things down in a notebook? Not quite, but that seems to be the trend-line. Digital dependency is a real problem.
Well, I went ahead and fired off a dawn podcast (shifting my dependency to the 3G technology of my phone) about the two Erics, then went rambling and riding with a fretful concern about Internet addiction. Also pondered Thinking Places. More on that later.
About those Erics: light candles today for Eric Blair and Eric Carlisle. You may not have known George Orwell was called Eric, and unless you’ve raised small children you may not have known Eric C. at all.
Eric Arthur Blair, born in 1903, was of course the author of Animal Farm and 1984. (Hey, S: did he walk, or write about it?) Most everything he wrote addressed the historical confrontation between democracy (“democratic socialism”) and totalitarian despotism. That’s what inspired the late Christopher Hitchens to name him his favorite author.
The other thing any writer should appreciate about Mr. Blair is his fastidious advocacy of clear and muscular writing.
A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly? But you are not obliged to go to all this trouble. You can shirk it by simply throwing your mind open and letting the ready made phrases come crowding in. They will construct your sentences for you — even think your thoughts for you, to certain extent — and at need they will perform the important service of partially concealing your meaning even yourself. “Politics and the English Language,” via Maria
The other Eric wrote The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which it pleases me to recall reading endlessly to Older Daughter in our formative years, back before the millennium. It was in steady rotation with Goodnight Moon, Goodnight Gorilla, the Berenstain Bears, and Little Critter. We both learned a lot from Mr. Carle about gluttony and moderation and I forget what else. Mostly I just remember the delight of shared and growing bibliomania, and the innocent laughter of childhood (her first and my second). Thanks, Eric.
So, digital dependency and what makes a Thinking Place a place to think? Later.
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