Sunday, March 15, 2015

For Your Sunday Reading Pleasure

What I have most been enjoying reading:  the work of my students in my Humanities class.  It is so wonderful to read their own pieces and to watch them respond to each other as they analyze history, art, architecture, philosophy, and religion.  I'm sure that part of my delight is that the subject matter is very different from the other classes that I'm teaching.  Part of it comes from their responses to each other; they seem to have been truly thinking about these issues.

But I can't share those with you, and they might not delight you as much, since you didn't create the curriculum and haven't been watching the trajectory of those students.

However, I have come across a preponderance of interesting reading across the Internet--well, across a very narrow spectrum of the Internet.  Here are some short pieces I enjoyed over the past few days:

This interview with Jane Hirshfield was amazing--she's got a book of poems out and a book of essays!  So many books, so little time--yes, that old song again.  But what a great problem to have.

This blog post of mine talks about reading the same book of meditations each year at Lent.  Each year, I adopt the same Lenten discipline.  I may or may not adopt an additional discipline, but I always intend to read my way through Henri Nouwen's Show Me the Way:  Readings for Each Day of Earth.  Each year, I am partially or fully successful. 

Each year, I underline anything that speaks to me loudly.  Here's the quote for this year, so far:  "In solitude, we become aware that our worth is not the same as our usefulness" (p. 53).
This essay also talks about the idea of use, worth, and usefulness, in terms of our creative practices:  "I hate to inevitably bring it back to capitalism, but I really must. Because we live in a society that grants us zero established time to create without the expectation that what we create will be lucrative. And this engenders a culture in which everything we love, and do, is meant to be a consuming passion or vocation (unless we’re mega-rich, in which case, see you on the links!). The idea of writing as a lifelong hobby or interest to be nurtured seems absurd in this kind of culture. Therefore the only way to scoop out time and legitimacy for one’s abiding love of writing is to enroll in a degree-granting program that will offer both structure and more importantly, authority and permission to spend time doing something that, in fact, offers little to no monetary promise. Investing time and money, receiving a degree — these are only the ways we are allowed to give these pursuits a sense of legitimacy."

And long before the first MFA program existed, there was T.S. Eliot, writing letters to Emily Hale back in the U.S.  In this post, Paul Elie tells us that the archive of over 1000 letters must remain sealed until 2020.  At first, I thought, well I'll never know what they say.  And then I thought, wait, that's only a few years from now.

Once again, I'm thinking of all the things we write, what remains sealed and what is out there for everyone to see.  In a hundred years, will we still be unsealing caches of letters and historical documents?  Will there be people who want to read them?

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