One of the problems with telling other people’s stories is that you bear the responsibility for the telling. Technology invites each of us to tell our story in many mediums. When is it stealing? When is it exploitation? When is it empathy? When is it giving the gift of meaning–the only gift writers have to give? Language, that puckish knave, can sometimes express meaning well outside of the writer’s good intentions. That is why to write is both brave and foolish. For me, the act of empathizing with another human, of becoming them in my imagination, of wresting meaning from brash reality, that is the payoff.
Still, times change. We must listen to others and take heed. Here: http://nyti.ms/1XRvsz8
Most people will agree that it is good to be hungry for success. “Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look/ He thinks too much: such men are dangerous” says Caesar.
But there is the other side of hunger: famine. Rarely do people make good decisions in the midst of famine. Famine is the opposite of freedom. Famine is the slavery of need. If you choose to make things out of desperation, it will stink of desperation.
Better to be as Epictetus says:
There is a rule I hold very dear when it comes to matters of work: no excuses, no explanations. The story of how you completed something, or worse, why it is not what you hoped it would be is an indulgence. It is dull. The work should speak for itself. This is a useful rule to follow during those weak moments when you feel ready to quit a project. It is a rule for school children who are far from the master years. But let’s put rules aside for the moment.
Even to use the word “Aesthetic” in casual conversation is a sure way to alienate your audience. It is a foreign, archaic word, like “metaphysics” or “quotidian” or “stoic.” It’s not just that our vocabulary has narrowed. We have become a practical people. Functionality, objectivity, measurability are the words of the day. And really why not? Beauty (it is supposed) will not save the ozone layer, or make the computer faster, or improve your SAT scores. Art is not science. Science got us to the moon. And thus, the virtue in having aesthetic concerns or of being as “aesthete” is lost to us. That is, except in the domain of food. And there it is very much alive.
I know what it is to be a poor reader. I do not know what it means to be a passionless reader. Books are filled with ideas. Ideas are a kind of candy. There is no one in my experience who dislikes candy.
I am a poor reader because I’ve always felt that I have an inability to control the flitting of my mind and which expresses itself most eloquently in the flitting of my eye. Watch the eye of one who is watching. The pupils look like two cooks ambushed by the morning breakfast rush. It is here and
I know a man who, at the age of sixty, retired to devote himself to literature. Naturally, he took up the habit of writing and one day, after having spent a week studying the venerable literary magazines —through the 70’s the 80’s the 90’s until today—it occurred to him he should abandon writing altogether. The reason? There were so many names that he did not recognize, so many minor, unheard of talents that he finally understood that he would never escape oblivion.
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