As you may know, I share links to interesting things I’ve read on the web in the “Caught My Eye” section of my sidebar. This is the feed of my Diigo account, where I do most of my link-collecting online. If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll have seen many of these posts there already, but for those of you who read Bonny Glen via RSS or email, and who do not spend much time on FB, here are some of the articles I’ve found thoughtprovoking, lovely, or entertaining this past week.
• How would you expect Arthur Conan Doyle to sound? : Maud Newton (quoting Elizabeth Jane Howard).
“Anything writers ever say about writing can only apply to them, as you have to find your own way of doing things. And it’s a strange business. Years ago Kingsley [Amis] and I tried to write a section of each other’s novel. He’d usually write quite quickly with lots of laughing at his own jokes. I’d write slowly and would bite my nails a lot. But when we swapped over, I started laughing and he started biting his nails.”
“…that phone call felt like it contained the most important advice I received in 2012: That sometimes not only you, but every other single person you might look to, has absolutely no idea what to do. No one. If you’re past a certain age, there is no authority to whom you can go caterwauling when things go wrong. I would have anticipated this would frighten me, but it doesn’t; I find it reassuring. It makes you feel gentler about the world, about other people’s imperfections, about the degree to which a hurt may or may not have been intended.”
“I can’t decide whether it’s more narcissistic or more fair-mindedly self-critical to compare oneself to cretinous novel characters, but I do it all the time, and the negative example of Hector Bartlett is something I increasingly reflect on now when I’m thinking of posting my opinion on some subject or considering whether to take an assignment. I think: Is this something I really care about? Am I actually informed about this, or do I have enough time and interest to become genuinely informed about it? Do I have, if not yet a clear picture of exactly what I want to say, a conviction that I have something to say?”
“So I kind of got sick of all the trash we throw away, even though a lot of it’s recycling, right? So I did a crazy thing and took a torn sheet and made it into a stack of drawstring bags and got myself a washable crayon and went to the store with the most bulk stuff I could find. And got my green on.”
“Nevertheless, what Wieseltier is missing is that homeschoolers and unschoolers could truly be his allies here. Classical and humanities-based education is being embraced by homeschoolers in droves: consider the popularity of The Well-Trained Mind, A Thomas Jefferson Education, or the work of Charlotte Mason, or so many other popular homeschool authors. He needs to read, or re-read, Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns. Homeschoolers *are* the ‘nonconsumers’ whose innovations have the potential to improve education for everyone. Online classes like those from Online G3 are leading tech-obsessed kids who IM in class to fall in love with Shakespeare.”
“Here’s why: because Gordimer’s advice about writing posthumously may be the best way to help your writing in the here-and-now. It may inoculate you against the intellectual and artistic viruses that, as you’re exposed to the literary world, will be eager to colonize your system.”
“Auden went on to tell the group how Tolkien had often admitted that he really had no idea where The Lord of the Rings was going when he first started the trilogy. In fact, Auden said, he wasn’t even sure how the pivotal character of Strider would develop as the narrative grew.”
“‘The culture of giving books as presents is very deeply rooted in how families perceive Christmas as a holiday,’ says Kristjan B. Jonasson, president of the Iceland Publishers Association. ‘Normally, we give the presents on the night of the 24th and people spend the night reading. In many ways, it’s the backbone of the publishing sector here in Iceland.'”
“You get knocked off balance, off your assumptions. You see stars. Or what you take for stars. Your life changes, is changed. Even in our handy cliché, we routinely speak of being struck by this or that. The point is you see—a fresh kind of seeing that feels accurate because the self is not, for once, a subject you lug around, a slave to experience it must either simply endure or enjoy. It is revealed as an instrument you can use to render—if not “reality,” then the experience of reality. The poetry of experience fastens to the reportage of the world.
“To express accurately your experience you must, paradoxically, be knocked out of yourself—knocked out of the inevitable narcissism and egotism that is our narrative lot. This quicksilver experience has been given, by literature and psychology, the lackluster label detachment. Or as Keats called it—also fastening on an unwieldy phrase—Negative Capability. It is impossible to corral the experience in a name, a term, but once felt, there is nothing—not even love—to compare.”
I don’t know what else to do but say “NO.” None of us are intended to live this way. And to honor our own mental health, and to honor each other, I think we need to dig in our heels and not be dragged down into paranoia and fear and distrust of our neighbors. Ninety-nine-point-nine-nine-nine times out of one hundred, people are okay: definitely quirky, truly strange, undoubtedly weird, and yes, perhaps freakish, awkward, sometimes repellent — but not abusive, not cruel, not insane, not homicidal. Each time I leave the house, I want to remember that. Each time I interact with strangers, I want them to remember that. Each time my eyes meet those of a stranger’s, I want to remember kindness.
“There is something about the publication of a book that feels to me like the going to the airport and being manhandled by security and then heading down the long cold lonely ramp until, at last, the book is poured into InDesign or whatever they use now, which is when they slam the pressurized doors shut and then there’s nothing you can do but sit there with yourself.”
“Thus, the Times is experimenting with the medium-form text. It’s a good idea, and I wish them well. But it’s the backdrop that intrigues me most of all, inasmuch as these texts will be sold as content, not supported by advertising. This is a very big item, more important than the switch from print to digital, as it points to the growing interest of traditionally advertising-supported businesses in the entirely different model of paid content. This shift, if it truly can be accomplished, will change everything.”
“No, look — here comes the cat,
with one ear inside out.
Make much of something small.”
“I never finished the Henry James thing that was set in Boston. It had a name that’s on the tip of my tongue. The Bostoners? Boston Me Up? Meet the Bostons?”
A woman after my own heart.