Why Do Writers Write?
"Why do writers write? Because it isn't there." --Thomas Berger. And because they want to read it. And because then they want other people to read it. This isn't really egotism. It's the desire to share. I'm sure it's true of artists in all media.
Defacing The Wall
This blog is this basically reclusive writer's concession to the contemporary world of social media. There is nothing more discouraging than writing on a wall that very few even know exists. But that is what most writers—and artists in all media—do. Books and gallery exhibitions and concerts reach a very small audience. The potential Internet audience is in the billions, although the number of offerings on it is also huge. Nevertheless here, for what it’s worth, I join the ranks of the bloggers, spray can in hand, ready to deface the already graffiti-cluttered Internet wall in the hope that someone passing by just might find something of interest.
Reason For Graffiti
Chekov wrote: "If you look at anything long enough, say just that wall in front of you—it will come out of that wall." And then it is hard to resist scribbling on it.
Einstein said, “God doesn’t throw dice.” Hippokrites replied, “God not only throws dice, he throws curves.”
Last Friday I was officially designated Professor Emeritus at Nipissing University during their Convocation Ceremony. (My wife made me wear new, clean jeans.) I extend my sincere thanks to all my colleagues at Nip who have supported me over the many years.
Futility Of Argument
“It would be headline news if anyone ever changed another person’s opinion by arguing with him.” (Hippokrites) Here a good article about why this true.
Your Man Friday’s Ideas: Mapping Where We’ve Never Been
“There be dragons” was sometimes used to mark unexplored regions on maps before we had managed to create a reasonable surface map of our planet. But much lies below the surface, in the future, and beyond our world. Thanks to scientific advances we are now mapping even these inaccessible places.
The Writers’ Union of Canada AGM
The end of June I attended 40th anniversary AGM of the TWUC (The Writers’ Union of Canada), where I’ve been a member since the late seventies. (Other North Bay writers in attendance were Barry Grills (former Chair of TWUC) and Jennifer Rouse Barbeau.) The honour of giving the annual Margaret Laurence Lecture this year was given to the poet Lorna Crozier. Her ‘lecture’ was really a long poem about the art and craft of writing, which had the audience enthralled.
Canadian Writers’ Union Opens Up Membership
The publishing world is changing drastically in the digital age, with e-books proliferating and print publishers going out of business or drastically reducing their offerings. Writers are turning to the “indie” approach to getting the word (and their words) out. The Writers’ Union wrestled with these changes and has responded with a change in their membership criteria.
We Need Our Illusions
“All art is illusion. This is why we so desperately need it.” –Hippokrites
Poetry and Science -- Poetry in Science
Poets are often stereotyped as being romantics and, like some of the poets of the Romantic Period in English literature, hostile to science. It was Keats, after all, that scolded Newton, probably the greatest scientist to have ever lived, for destroying the poetry of the rainbow by "reducing it to the prismatic colours", for unweaving the rainbow. Well, stereotypes often contain a grain of truth, but I credit poets with usually being fairly smart and having a sense of awe. Those two characteristics would suggest they have to be among the greatest appreciators of science. Scientists reveal the wonders of the universe, and poets should celebrate them. I try to.
The Poetry of The Planets
Here is one art work from my series “The Planets”.
What A Poem Is Not
A poem isn't a political polemic. It isn't a narcissistic diary entry. It isn’t a sanctimonious advice column. It isn’t rhyming clichés. It isn't expository prose given arbitrary line breaks to make it look like a poem. It isn't just any lyrics of a pop song removed from their supporting musical platform—no matter how solid that platform. It isn’t ever sentimental schlock suitable for Hallmark cards. It isn't a lot of things people call poems. If they read real poems, they would not be so careless about calling something a poem. This diatribe is not a poem. This is just a curmudgeon’s expression of disappointment.
This, on the other hand, is a poem—about poetry.
Your Man Friday’s Ideas: Digital Whistles
The Internet has given whistleblowers a very powerful amplifier for their whistles…
The cornerstone of all human rights is freedom of expression. This is why it is the first right to be attacked by those who wish to restrict all our freedoms, be they governments or special interest groups. Naturally writers have a vested interest in freedom of expression and access to information. (Of course everyone should be concerned.) Two writers’ organizations that fight for this basic right are Journalists Without Borders and PEN. Here is a recent report from PEN’s Canadian branch about an outrageous attempt to restrict information.
A Reading List
In April, when my wife and I were in Boulder, we attended a talk by Salman Rushdie at U. of C. (He was charming and entertaining.) It surprised me, although it shouldn’t have, that we had to go through a security check before entering the hall. It wasn’t as crazy as airport security; we didn’t have to take our shoes off or have a full body scan. But it was serious. And, more than airport security, I could understand the reason for it. Rushdie had to hide for years because his life was in imminent danger just because of a novel he wrote, and I’m sure there are plenty of religious crazies still wanting to see him dead. As most people know, the novel that got him into trouble was The Satanic Verses, which is hardly inflammatory and was a Booker Prize finalist. It isn’t unusual that great literature has been banned, although fortunately most authors of banned books don’t have to actually fear for their lives. Much of the most important and influential literature has been the target of censors, probably because it threatens the dogmatic and closed-minded. In fact, a reading list of notoriously banned books could serve as a damn good guide to liberal education. Here is one such list.
Adam Naked In The Long Grass
Shakespeare got the plot for Macbeth and for most of his histories from Hollingshead. All collage artists create their art from things they found—not created themselves. But there are people who claim that is some kind of theft, and call it ‘appropriation’. I think that is ridiculous and yet another example of trying to restrict freedom of expression. Here is one of my own art pieces that might be considered shameless appropriation or—just maybe, as intended—as a tribute to one of the great masters.