It is impossible to capture complex ideas in only 140 characters.
From The Gospel According to Me by Simon Critchley and Jamieson Webster
“Nothing seems more American than this forced choice between cynicism and naïve belief. Or rather, as Herman Melville put it in his 1857 novel “The Confidence Man,” it seems the choice is between being a fool (having to believe what one says) or being a knave (saying things one does not believe). For Melville, who was writing on the cusp of modern capitalism, the search for authenticity is a white whale.”
I recently enjoyed reading Notes From A Small Island by Bill Bryson and this weekend we ventured out to a small island of our own nearby – Bainbridge Island. Our friends we not exactly clear why we had ventured out and it was not exactly clear to us either. But we had not been before. Why not go? Adventures don’t happen when sitting at home watching the 7th consecutive episode of International House Hunters.
My biggest takeaway from the trip – aside from a delightful ferry ride, lunch and driving adventure with my wife – was the pleasure that I found in escaping so easily.
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Returning just last week from my own adventure I was delighted to read Christopher Solomon’s Personal Journeys article The New York Times, Deep in the Heart of Nowhere.
He writes, “When I have a few days to spare, I flee in the opposite direction, away from the hive. I don’t mean I simply like lesser-known destinations. No, I love to go deep — and the more remote and vacant, the better. I’ve got no beef with Manhattan. I’ve met fascinating people in Seattle bars and in Boston suburbs and in tiny ski towns high in the Rockies. But give me the empty places, the abandoned places, the mountains where the sound of the wind through the ponderosas draws a shivery finger down your spine.”
But what was reinforced on my own trip over the last few weeks was not my love for remoteness, although I do like quite, solitary vacations from time to time, but rather my passion for the novel, the different. Exposing myself to the people, places, food and cultures on other side of the world I became almost fearful of the sameness that awaited me when I got home.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the things that I have here at home, and I was glad to come back. But when I travel I want to make sure that I continue to look for the new and different around me. And better yet, appreciate and push myself towards the new and different in Seattle.
Amazing how much easier it is to birth an eBook. Watch this great video on how a book is created using traditional printing methods.
Birth of a Book from Glen Milner on Vimeo.
Peter Workman died today. It is a very sad loss for the publishing community and the reading community. He brought to life such amazing books as Bad Dog, Water for Elephants, and the great What to Expect When You’re Expecting.
I remember meeting Peter when I was working at Vook. We spoke of the enormous potential of digital and he talked about the detailed hand-selling roots of Workman publishing. He loved independent publishing and the freedom that it gave him to publish great works – what could be risky works – without the oversight of a quarterly revenue goal. He was always thinking about the long term.
A fantastic TED talk which really got me thinking about moral differences in people. Psychologist Jonathan Haidt studies the five moral values that form the basis of our political choices, whether we’re left, right or center. As for me I wish that I could use Sent-Ts’an thinking more often. Too frequently I’m doing exactly what he advises against. The words are simple, but ultimately it is a highly complex and difficult idea to wrap your mind around.
“If you want truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against. The struggle between “for” and “against” is the minds worst disease.”
Moral Foundations Theory
1. Care/harm for others, protecting them from harm.
2. Fairness/cheating, Justice, treating others in proportion to their actions(He has also referred to this dimension as Proportionality.)
3. Liberty/oppression, characterizes judgments in terms of whether subjects are tyrannized.
4. Loyalty/betrayal to your group, family, nation. (He has also referred to this dimension as Ingroup.)
5. Authority/subversion for tradition and legitimate authority. (He has also connected this foundation to a notion of Respect.)
6. Sanctity/degradation, avoiding disgusting things, foods, actions. (He has also referred to this as Purity.)
On the cover of the NYT’s SundayReview Graham Hill writes of living with less. A 420 foot studio. Few plates. 10% of the books that he used to.
I get where he is coming from. The public storage industry is enormous – $22 billion dollars. The size of the average American home has more than doubled in the past 60 years. People’s garages are stuffed.
But there is something to be said about balance in life. Perhaps Euripides put it best, “The best and safest thing is to keep a balance in your life, acknowledge the great powers around us and in us. If you can do that, and live that way, you are really a wise man.”
The way that I see it some of the things around me, particularly my books, help define who I am. I’m reminded of an article from November 2011, The Subconscious Self by Leah Price. “You are also what you read — or, perhaps, what you own.” At least in part.
Is Graham Hill empty? Are hoarders full? No. But things are inputs into the whole. How these people define themselves and how others define them.
On the front page of The New York Times Book Review this week was ‘Sticks and Stones’ By Emily Bazelon, reviewed by Andrew Solomon. Emily Bazelon charts the experiences of a few bullied children and synthesizes the scholarship on how to contain or prevent such harm.
The subject of this book review in conjunction with another article in the same paper, ‘This Story Stinks’ By Dominique Brossard and Dietram A Scheufele, is a sad commentary on civility today. The article notes how “uncivil comments [on internet articles] not only polarized readers, but they often changed a participant’s interpretation of the news story itself.”
Is bullying and rudeness actually growing – or are we just noticing it more?