Monday, February 25, 2013

My guest blog at Stoneboat - Writing at the End of the World

I was invited by writing colleagues to contribute a post to the blog of the literary journal, Stoneboat.

The post is entitled, Writing at the End of the World, a theme you have seen often here. Hope you'll give it a read.

This morning, I took my cup of coffee down to the Lake Michigan shore to watch the sunrise. The air was crisp and cold, a winter haze settled over downtown and a bank of clouds out in the distance over the lake.The water was so, so still. I could tell the slow motion of swells rising and falling not by the water itself, but rather by the movement of the clouds' reflection in the clear ice covering the water, back and forth, back and forth. Could make you dizzy. Much of the surface had a thin layer of ice that made crinkling sounds as the sheets bumped gently into one another. Out in the small spaces of open water, geese and ducks flocked. Every now and then I could hear the clear sounds of wings sloshing in the water as they moved about.

It was magic, always magic, this world we are ruining... How is it possible we are ruining this world?

What does it mean to be a writer (speaker, too) in such a time?

Meanwhile, this was posted on Upworthy today, which is how I discovered it. Give yourself a gift. Take 20 minutes to watch this, then sit for a moment and feel the change, let it come, speak it, even if you are alone. Don't let the moment just pass; dont get up right away and do something else. Sit with it. Feel what changes within you.

How can we go on like this - knowing what we know?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Culture of violence: what does that mean?

Writers search for voice and commitment. It is important to me to bring those two things together. The authenticity of voice roots itself in a stand one takes, a space where one situates oneself, a vantage point from which the writer looks out on the world and tries to articulate what one sees there.

And for me, this other point - to tell the truth about it. I don't just mean factual or objective truth, but truth that rests in the integrity of what one sees, interprets, describes. The reason why writing and art are so endlessly rich is because in this sense truth is as varied, diverse, and dynamic as the world in which we live.

Okay, to the topic here. A question: relevant to a reflection on the meaning of the phrase "culture of violence," what, at its heart, is the difference between these two stories?

Friday, February 1, 2013

As the old order collapses, what's a writer to do?

Jack Frost left me a note one morning
Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the scale of the changes swirling around us. For a time, a brief few generations, a certain kind of stability enshrouded much of our society here, along with the emergence of the American Dream, this mythical overhang that clouds our view, always with a bit of a mystical edge to it, that our "standard of living" was on the rise - and always will be forever.

The U.S. emerged from World War II with quite a grandiose sense of itself - that we had somehow saved the world, as if the world that was saved was the only one that existed, and we had done that all on our own. Listen to the debates in Washington and you hear those voices of the old world order having a hard time letting this go, this sense that we are the center of the world and that we can always and forever determine the course of history (Romney said that pretty explicitly during his campaign).

Look around the world right now, in former Soviet Republics, in the Middle East and Northern Africa, in Kashmir and along the India/Pakistan border... An "order" patched together by various forms of western imperialist powers, especially from the days of colonialism, is coming apart after one brutal repressive government after another collapses