“Because here's something else that's weird but true: in the day-to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship -- be it JC or Allah, bet it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother... Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles -- is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It's been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.” ― David Foster Wallace
Brandon Monk brandonmonk
Discusses reading, learning and writing at readlearnwrite.com. My name is Brandon Monk. I am an attorney in a small town in Texas. firstname.lastname@example.org @readlearnwrite on twitter. Reach out to me, I would love to hear from you. A third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives. Forty-two percent of college graduates never read another book after college. Eighty percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year. (Source: Jenkins Group). I want you to be inspired to read. One post at a time we will discuss reading, learning and writing.
After the second world war, a few privileged Americans developed a brilliant formula for building an unimaginably huge economy: [Our economy] demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfactions, our ego satisfactions, in consumption. The measure of social status, of social acceptance, of prestige, is... now to be found in our consumptive patterns [...] We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at an ever increasing pace. We need to have people eat, drink, dress, ride, live, with ever more complicated and, therefore, constantly more expensive consumption. ~American retail analyst Victor Lebow
Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you... construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about "the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master".
STORY. Its subgenre, Buddy Salvation, substitutes friendship for romantic love: MEAN STREETS, PASSION FISH, ROMY AND MICHELE’S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION. 2. HORROR FILM. This genre divides into three subgenres: the Uncanny, in which the source of horror is astounding but subject to “rational” explanation, such as beings from outer space, science-made monsters, or a maniac; the Supernatural, in which... the source of horror is an “irrational” phenomenon from the spirit realm; and the Super-Uncanny, in which the audience is kept guessing between the other two possibilities—THE TENANT, HOUR OF THE WOLF, THE SHINING. 3. MODERN EPIC (the individual versus the state): SPAR-TACUS, MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, VIVA ZAPATA!, 1984, THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLINT. 4. WESTERN. The evolution of this genre and its subgenres is brilliantly traced in Will Wright’s Six Guns and Society. 5. WAR GENRE. Although war is often the setting for another genre, such as the Love Story, the WAR GENRE is specifically about combat. Pro-war versus Antiwar are its primary subgenres. Contemporary films generally oppose war, but for decades the majority covertly glorified it, even in its most grisly form. 6. MATURATION PLOT or the coming-of-age story: STAND BY ME, SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, RISKY BUSINESS, BIG, BAMBI, MURIEL’S WEDDING. 7. REDEMPTION PLOT. Here the film arcs on a moral change within the protagonist from bad to good: THE HUSTLER, LORD JIM, DRUGSTORE COWBOY, SCHINDLER’S LIST, LA PROMESSE. 8. PUNITIVE PLOT. In these the good guy turns bad and is punished: GREED, THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE, MEPHISTO, WALL STREET, FALLING DOWN. 9. TESTING PLOT. Stories of willpower versus temptation to surrender: THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, COOL HAND LUKE, FITZCARRALDO, FORREST GUMP. 10. EDUCATION PLOT. This genre arcs on a deep change within the protagonist’s view of life, people, or self from the negative (naive, distrustful, fatalistic, self-hating) to the positive (wise, trusting, optimistic, self-possessed): HAROLD AND MAUDE, TENDER MERCIES, WINTER LIGHT, IL POSTINO, GROSS POINTE BLANK, MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING, SHALL WE DANCE. 11. DISILLUSIONMENT PLOT. A deep change of worldview from the positive to the negative: MRS. PARKER AND THE VICIOUS CIRCLE, L’ECLISSE, LE FEU FOLLET, THE GREAT GATSBY, MACBETH.
The economy is a human-made thing designed for our convenience. It serves us, we don’t serve it. It’s not some dark god called Economor to whom we must make sacrificial offerings or fear its wrath: it’s just a system of boring gold-based policies we made a couple of hundred years ago (and perverted beyond recognition some ten years ago), which doesn’t even make a lot of sense anymore. And if we don’t start prioritising our natural environment as a concern, the planet won’t be able to sustain any life – human or economic.
The news about Walter Berglund wasn’t picked up locally—he and Patty had moved away to Washington two years earlier and meant nothing to St. Paul now—but the urban gentry of Ramsey Hill were not so loyal to their city as not to read the New York Times.
Metafiction was the sort of technique that had first formed the bridge for him from philosophy to fiction when he was at Amherst. It contained that second level of meaning that made Wallace confident that what he was reading was intellectually richer than just entertainment (“meatfiction,” the narrator of his new story calls it), and it was clever and sardonic, just as Wallace was.
When he was in bed, where he sometimes prayed, he thanked God for his mom, who he loved, and he apologized for not talking to her, or to anyone, really, except his friend Albert, and he apologized for her never going to church and for his never taking Holy Communion, as Albert did—though only to God would he admit that he wanted to because Albert did. He prayed for good to come, for his mom and... for him, since God was like magic, and happiness might come the way of early morning, in the trees and bushes full of sparrows next to his open window, louder and louder when he listened hard, eyes closed.
Many bewail that the words of the wise are always only allegories, inapplicable in daily life, the only life we have. If the wise say, "Go yonder," they don't mean, one should cross to some other side, which one would do, if the results were worth it, but they mean some proverbial yonder, something peculiar, which eludes any better description, and which is of no help to us here. All these... allegories want really just to say is that the ungraspable is not to be grasped, and that we knew. But what troubles us everyday, that's a different matter. About that someone said, "Why do you shun their words? If you would follow the allegories, then you would yourselves become allegories and be free of daily troubles." Another said, "I bet that, too, is an allegory." The first said, "You have won." The other said, "But sadly only allegorically." The first said, "No, in reality, in allegory you have lost."
‘Knowing’ something does not mean knowing it by heart; that simply means putting it in the larder of our memory. That which we rightly ‘know’ can be deployed without looking back at the model, without turning our eyes back towards the book. What a wretched ability it is which is purely and simply bookish! Book-learning should serve as an ornament not as a foundation – following the conclusion of Plato that true philosophy consists in resoluteness, faithfulness and purity, whereas the other sciences, which have other aims, are merely cosmetic.
We seem to be predisposed to remember statements as true even after they have been disconfirmed. For instance, if a rumor spreads that a famous politician once fainted during a campaign speech, and the story is later revealed to be false, some significant percentage of people will recall it as a fact—even if they were first exposed to it in the very context of its debunking. In psychology, this is known as the “illusory truth effect.” Familiarity breeds credence.
I knew that something could have happened to them but I knew that nothing had happened to them; a kind of reptilian optimism.
As Mr. Jacobs recounts in his book The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction (Oxford University Press, 2011), he used to worry he was losing his ability to focus on a text. Unexpectedly, getting a Kindle helped him refocus because it was set up to enable only reading, not Internet surfing or e-mail checking. Still, he's a little concerned about the possibly pernicious effects of the iPad. "It's too easy to check Twitter," he says.
There is no way of saying whether his mass destruction of private documents in the late eighties was connected to a suppression of evidence about his relations with men. But it was probably around this time that he exercised self-censorship in his diaries, especially in the 1870 Doyle passage, in which he changed pronouns and used a numerical code to cloak Doyle’s identity.
Rule No. 1: Show and Tell. Most people say, “Show, don’t tell,” but I stand by Show and Tell, because when writers put their work out into the world, they’re like kids bringing their broken unicorns and chewed-up teddy bears into class in the sad hope that someone else will love them as much as they do. “And what do you have for us today, Marcy?” “A penetrating psychological study of a young med... student who receives disturbing news from a former lover.” “How marvelous! Timmy, what are you holding there?” “It’s a Calvinoesque romp through an unnamed metropolis much like New York, narrated by an armadillo.” “Such imagination!” Show and Tell, followed by a good nap.