Ignorance: A Blessing

There are some things that I know with certainty. The sum of two and three is five. All mothers are women. A triangle has three sides. My back hurts. I am currently writing a blog post and trying to think of another example that doesn’t sound too trite. I think most would agree that the degree of certainty which I have about these things is so high that I cannot not know them.On the other hand, there are many things that I cannot know with certainty. Some of these things are fairly i … [Read more...]

The Empathy Exams

07book"The Empathy Exam" by Leslie Jamison.

 Leslie Jamison’s essays in The Empathy Exams ask – and begin to answer – an array of important questions about pain, healing, and empathy. To list just a few: When does empathy actually reinforce the pain it wants to console? Can pain be actual and constructed at the same time? And how do we represent female pain without producing a culture in which this pain has been fetishized to the point of fantasy or imperative?Jamison frames her writing as “a search for possibility,” which cou … [Read more...]

The Doomsday Machine

My wife and I did not see—and have no plans to see—R.I.P.D., The Lone Ranger, Olympus Has Fallen, and various other big budget movie offerings from 2013. However, not long ago, we sat in the comfort of our basement, which is like a home theater, and watched Noah Baumbach’s latest film, Frances Ha—a buzzed-about 2013 black-and-white American comedy-drama that had a semi-wide theatrical release beginning in May. No cars, skyscrapers, or people were destroyed in Frances Ha, but the scene in which Fr … [Read more...]

The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light

3d3541c9f3fdf9b42e75548985fc3e86 (1)

 Paul Bogard’s The End of Night has as much to say about the night sky as it does about the people who live under it. In his search for the last of our nation’s natural darkness, Bogard makes room for everyone from the president of the unlikely Las Vegas Astronomical Society to a woman who, visiting a dark rural area for the first time, exclaimed, “What are all those white dots in the sky?”The sorry truth is that most of us are scarcely more aware of the night. Light pollution, the p … [Read more...]

Winter’s Humbling

Cuttings of yellow forsythia bloom on my coffee table as March threatens its last (fingers crossed) snowstorm... Finally. I confess a sigh of relief at the resurgence of sunshine, warmth and colors other than brown, gray and white. Winter's grip on the Earth is growing weak in the face of spring's insistent return, yet its bleak work has primed me for the impudent  joy of crocuses blooming beside melting snowdrifts. Like winter's firm discipline has prepared the tired earth for sprouting seeds, … [Read more...]

The Ear of the Heart

to_the_wonder

A friend recently gave me the autobiography of a Benedictine nun at the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Connecticut, entitled The Ear of the Heart.  In the first part, Dolores Hart, also known as the girl who first kissed Elvis, tells how she left a promising career in Hollywood, and broke off her engagement to a great guy, in order to enter the convent.   The decision looked dramatic, but from Dolores’ perspective, it was a simple act of attention to the Voice that she could no longer ignore.  Over th … [Read more...]

Art and The Mysterious Beyond

caspar

A couple of posts over at “Good Letters” have thoughtfully addressed art’s purpose and how it interacts with and reflects a greater reality. In the first of these pieces, Vic Sizemore responds to a recent article by Michael Chabon in the New York Review of Books. Chabon argues that the artist’s function is addressing brokenness in the world by putting back together the “‘scattered pieces of that great overturned jigsaw puzzle’ according to [the artist’s] own vision.”  A creative work “is authenti … [Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X