And here we are, deep into 2016 already. Tree and lights came down yesterday, Younger Daughter goes back to school today. Time to shake off that holiday torpor and get back in harness. But, no regrets for all the elective reading (The Invention of Nature, Battling the Gods, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich…) and mind-wandering of the break, that’s how the batteries recharge.
The tasks at hand, before Spring semester commences on the 19th: rework the syllabi for CoPhi, Bioethics, and Atheism; and, find an angle from which to constructively critique my esteemed mentor John Lachs (I’ve been invited to submit an essay for the festschrift being assembled in his honor, an outgrowth of last August’s Berlin conference).
But the immediate task is to reclaim one of my better dawn habits, a daily check-in with Mr. Keillor’s Almanac. Today we learn it’s the birthday of E.L. Doctorow (1931), who said:
“Writing’s like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights illuminate, but you can make the whole trip that way, you see.”
And: “When you’re writing a book, you don’t really think about it critically. You don’t want to know too well what you’re doing. First, you write the book, then you find the justification for it. The book is constructed as a conversation, with someone doing most of the talking and someone doing most of the listening.”
Interesting, the thought of writing as a lopsided conversation. But isn’t the one talking also the one listening, in the process of drafting?
It’s Barry Lopez’s birthday too (1945). “I’m not a person that draws a very sharp line between nature and something else. I think that there is this thing nature of which we are a part. I believe our culture is infused with nature in the same way I imagine nature is infused with culture.” And, “Everything is held together with stories. That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion.”
One of the stories I always tell is that, because we and our storied culture are “infused” with nature, we must not think ourselves adrift in a meaningless cosmos. We must “remember that we’re standing on a planet that’s evolving, and revolving at 900 miles an hour” (or so). Or, Eric meant, rotating at about that, and orbitally revolving at 19 miles a second. It means a lot.
So, lotsa meaningful stories still to tell, if we can just hold it together a little longer.
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