More News and Notes

I’ve been getting unsolicited e-mails from the Kimble Group (external link). I know nothing about them. But they are sending me the most relevant job postings of any service that I have experienced. And I am not paying for their daily, sometimes twice a day e-mails. Quite a few positions open for remote workers and freelancers. You may want to investigate them. No, this is not a paid recommendation.

It’s easy to complain about people being too attached to their cell phones. An assault at a train station recently occurred but there were no witnesses, everyone was looking down at their phones.

But we are creatures of information and most of us are always looking for something to read.

Things are much more intense today, of course, as our phones offer interactivity and constant change that newspapers cannot deliver. But we will continue to read, no matter the platform.

I continue to be mystified by Twitter. I don’t tweet, never have. I have an account so  I can research articles from time to time, but I don’t understand the attraction of posting. Why would I try to win an argument from a troll who can’t even spell? Nor do I get Instagram. It seems so much noise. Do you feel the same?

As I concentrate more and more on my writing, my appetite for extraneous everything gets less and less. I don’t have cable TV, I don’t watch The Voice, and I have never watched Survivor. Entertainment surely, but I find myself watching movies and old TV reruns instead.

I don’t know why this is so but perhaps long form content is less distracting than brief, highly episodic entertainment. Short attention span stuff. And I feel a need to push away everything out of my writing routine that tries to push in. Or is it simpler than that? Do we just get less interested in popular culture as we get older? Any thoughts?

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Some Quotes from Krishnamurti

J. Krishnamurti was an Brahimin Indian born in 1895 and groomed by the Theosophical society to be a world-wide spiritual leader. In 1929 he disavowed the promotion of the society and disbanded his followers. He told them that enlightenment could be had only by following one’s own self. I find some of his thoughts elusive to hold — at first I think I understand them and then, upon reflection, I wonder if I do.

It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.

I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect.

All ideologies are idiotic, whether religious or political, for it is conceptual thinking, the conceptual word, which has so unfortunately divided man.

The constant assertion of belief is an indication of fear.

A man who is not afraid is not aggressive, a man who has no sense of fear of any kind is really a free, a peaceful man.

One is never afraid of the unknown; one is afraid of the known coming to an end.

We never look deeply into the quality of a tree; we never really touch it, feel its solidity, its rough bark, and hear the sound that is part of the tree. Not the sound of wind through the leaves, not the breeze of a morning that flutters the leaves, but its own sound, the sound of the trunk and the silent sound of the roots.

If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation.

We all want to be famous people, and the moment we want to be something we are no longer free.

Freedom from the desire for an answer is essential to the understanding of a problem.

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More on Ranier Maria Rilke

“God is man’s greatest idea.” Camille Paglia

Rilke is a favorite poet of mine and I’ve quoted Poems From The Book of Hours before (internal link). His mysterious writing lends itself to many interpretations, however, a chief translator of his, Babette Deutsch, gives key insight in her introduction to the 1941 New Directions book of the same name, Poems From The Book of Hours.

She writes:

The God Whom the The Book of Hours celebrates is not the Creator of the universe, but seems rather the creature of mankind, and above all, the artists. He is present and to be revered in all that “truly lives,” but he is not yet perfected; in a sense, he is also the future, the incomplete, the unachieved, the cathedral still in the building, the wine that has not yet ripened. Only by a more sensitive approach to life, and to things, which have a strange secret life of their own, as every artist feels, only by an effort to understand the death that every life carries within it like a seed, shall men, tutored by the artists among them, slowly realize this great unorthodox godhead.

All Will Grow Great and Powerful Again

All will grow great and powerful again:
All will grow great and powerful again:
the seas be wrinkled and the land be plain,
the trees gigantic and the walls be low;
and in the valleys, strong and multiform,
a race of herdsmen and of farmers grow.

No churches to encircle God as though
he were a fugitive, and then bewail him
as if he were a captured wounded creature, —
all houses will prove friendly, there will be
a sense of boundless sacrifice prevailing
in dealings between men, in you, in me.

No waiting the beyond, no peering toward it,
but longing to degrade not even death;
we shall learn earthliness, and serve its ends,
to feel its hands about us like a friend’s.

RLR.

I think we can no more create God than than we can manufacture the heavens. But I will quietly listen to a poet constructing a universe by the power of words alone.

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The Cult of The Machine at the De Young In San Francisco

I’ve always been fascinated with photographs of factories and infrastructure. I remember vividly a photography magazine my Dad had, containing incredibly sharp images of a German refinery, all gleaming chrome plated tanks and steel ladders and overhead metal ductwork. On my bookshelf sits Brian Haye’s work, Infrastructure: A Field Guide to the Industrial Landscape. Squarely within my interest comes a new exhibit to the De Young Museum in San Francisco.

Entitled The Cult of the Machine, the exhibit highlights and and analyzes outstanding works of arts revolving around images taken in the 1920s and 1930s of America’s machine dominated landscape, in a style the De Young calls Precisionism. This online introduction is well worth ten minutes of your time, if not longer, to linger over fascinating photographs and artworks of an era in which industry was thought of as a savior and also, perhaps, as a threat.

https://digitalstories.famsf.org/cult-machine#start (external link)

Charles Scheeler. Upper Deck.

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An Expanding Balloon

Have you ever attempted an article so complex that it demands a timeline or a character map? Right now I am working with an editor to come up with an angle on a story about an inland lake. What do we want to cover? What is the essential story given the magazine’s audience and its orientation?

As with anything involving water rights in California, multiple agencies play a part. Local, state, federal, and non-governmental organizations each have their roles, those often overlapping. Money for remediation projects is an issue as are plans slated for the lake, most only partially implemented or set in the future.

As the editor and I discuss the potential article, the subject becomes an expanding balloon, growing ever bigger and more difficult to handle as it increases in size. Numerous sidebar ideas present themselves as our preliminary research continues.

Over the next week I’ll develop a timeline and a list of key players. Then, I may use my reMarkable tablet (internal link) to make a graphic showing how these groups come together and what their role has been over time. Yes, it does sound confusing.

The potential article is like a jigsaw puzzle without an illustration showing what the finished puzzle looks like. We have the pieces in rough form needed to construct an image but we don’t know yet what that image will be. By laying out the details in graphic form we may yet finalize what angle we should take.

All of this fiddling around won’t be wasted as it now constitutes the preliminary research for the article. Identifying the key players and important dates is necessary to write the article no matter what direction it finally takes.

https://sr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Датотека:Pride_and_Prejudice_Character_Map.png

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Communicating Poorly With Approval

“My opposition to interviews lies in the fact that offhand answers have little value or grace of expression, and that such oral give and take helps to perpetuate the decline of the English language.” James Thurber

Arguing for substance and style in English, Thurber advocates consideration over less pondered thoughts. Reflection, that careful turning over of ideas before committing them to speech or writing, is what marks our march toward effective communication. Unfortunately, some are now out of step with that march, and their cavalier prancing is being endorsed by people who should know better.

“[M]illennials have created a new rulebook for a variant of written English unique to social media. A rulebook which states that deliberately misspelled words and misused grammar can convey tone, nuance, humour, and even annoyance.” Rachel Thompson

Writing in a Mashable article (external link) entitled “Millennials have created a form of written English that’s as expressive as spoken English, ” Thompson goes on to quote a University of Manchester Linguistics lecturer as saying that “something exciting” is happening with the way that millennials are writing and that in “breaking the constraints” of written English they can be as expressive as you can be in spoken language.”

Millennials are not solely to blame. Such messaging started with the tiny and often crippled keypads of mobile devices; shortcuts had to be found. Punching out the word “cant” is easier when no apostrophe symbol is at hand, or it has to be accessed with additional keystrokes. That a broken way of communicating evolved is no surprise. But it should not be considered as an equivalent or improved way of expression.

Mobile communications may be thought of as a pidgin language, something co-existing with proper English as a necessity of our modern age. Let no one believe, however, that its offhand delivery or graceless style in any way benefits the language at large. This isn’t an argument against spontaneity, it has a vital place in out lives. But spontaneous electronic hash is no substitute for considered English and should not be thought of as such. Time for certain writers and English authorities to get back in step.

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Three Days in The Hospital

“Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” John Lennon.

I was furiously woking on my newest book proposal when I suffered an attack of acute colitis. The severe abdominal pain landed me in the emergency room and then into the hospital for diagnosis and treatment. Because I had other things wrong with me, it took a while for the specialists to determine the primary cause of my pain.

Now that I am out, I am looking at rest and the hope of getting back on track. My book proposal deadline is still May 13th. I do not know if I can make it. Worst case scenario is putting a tremendous amount of work into it, only to fall short at deadline, missing by a few hundred words. I need my health to hold out. Before more life happens.

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