Archive for the 'Chapbook' Category

ORWELL WEEK 7: NORTH AND SOUTH…

February 18th, 2018

As I mentioned last week, I first read The Road To Wigan Pier a little more than seven years ago after reading Christopher Hitchens rightly praise the writings of George Orwell. The 4,289-word essay, North And South, written in 1937, is also an excerpt from Wigan. Orwell begins: As you travel northward your eye, accustomed […]

ORWELL WEEK 6: DOWN THE MINE…

February 11th, 2018

I first read The Road To Wigan Pier a little more than seven years ago after reading Christopher Hitchens rightly praise the writings of George Orwell. The 4,861-word essay, Down The Mine, written in 1937, is an excerpt from Wigan. Orwell begins: Our civilization, pace Chesterton, is founded on coal, more completely than one realizes […]

ORWELL, WEEK 5: BOOKSHOP MEMORIES

February 4th, 2018

For me, the two most magical places in the world are libraries and bookshops. I still own the first two books I bought with my own money—the Modern Library editions of Walden And Other Writings Of Henry David Thoreau, edited by Brooks Atkinson (1965 edition) and The Complete Works Of Lewis Carroll with illustrations by […]

BASEBALL, HOTDOGS, APPLE PIE & PRES. TRUMP…

January 28th, 2018

So, this morning I began to transcribe my notes from Cornel West’s Race Matters (matters of race, not race is important). Written in 1993, the book remains relevant and possibly prophetic in 2018. I came to the book because of West’s dustup with Ta-Nehisi Coates. I probably won’t finish the transcription until tomorrow, but I […]

ORWELL, WEEK 4: SHOOTING AN ELEPHANT

January 28th, 2018

This week I read Shooting An Elephant, published on 1 October 1936. While the major action in the essay is indeed the shooting of a bull elephant—reader warning, if you are at all disturbed by descriptions of the slaughter of animals, as I am, skip that part—in musth, Orwell’s true theme is imperialism. Orwell begins […]

REACH TO BUILD THE BEST SOCIETY POSSIBLE

January 24th, 2018

One of the most often uttered phrases in adolescence—topped only by whatever—may be What’s the point? We humans struggle to fin meaning in a universe that doesn’t have any. Eventually we give up and just create our own meanings and move on. Today I’m thinking about how a stoic approaches the question. The Stoics argue […]

STOP WANDERING AND START WONDERING…

January 22nd, 2018

So, in Buddhist meditation, one of the first phrases you come across is monkey mind. Think of what you see when you visit the monkey house—or if you’re luck enough to live in Cleveland, monkey island—and watch the frenetic action as troops bounce from branch to branch, chattering to each other in what seems like […]

SEE NO EVIL BECAUSE THERE IS NO EVIL…

January 19th, 2018

I’ve said before that evil, like cold and dark, is an absence rather than a presence. Reading Massimo Picliucci’s How To Be A Stoic, has led me to explore another possibility that evil isn’t even an absence of good, but rather an ignorance. The Stoics held that people don’t really do evil but simply have […]

STRONG RACIAL IDENTITY FIGHTS THE PUSHOUT…

January 11th, 2018

So, I finished reading Monique Morris’ excellent work: Pushout: The Criminalization Of Black Girls In Schools over the winter break and sent copies of my notes to some educators whose opinions I value. I haven’t heard back yet, but a story this morning on The Root (more on this below the fold) prompted me to […]

UNDERSTANDING THE WAY THE WORLD WORKS…

January 10th, 2018

As Picliucci begins to erect his scaffold for being a Stoic in the 21st century, he first focuses on two ideas: understanding the nature of the world and the nature of human reasoning: The theoretical framework of Stoicism is the idea that in order to live a good (in the sense of eudaimonic) life one […]

RODENTS USE TREADMILLS, YOU CAN TAKE A WALK…

January 2nd, 2018

When I was in my early teens, and later in college, I had hamsters as pets. Anyone who has had a pet rodent know the scree, scree, scree sound of the exercise wheel to nowhere. Rodents never learn how to get from nowhere to now here. Humans can learn that lesson. The skill is recognize […]

REALITY… WHAT AN ILLUSION…*

December 30th, 2017

My personal definition of spirituality is how we emotionally deal with our personal reality. There is Reality and there is reality. The former is what Phillip K. Dick meant when he wrote in the short story I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon: She wanted a one-sentence answer. I thought about it and finally said, “Reality […]

MY PRACTICAL SPIRITUAL EXERCISE FOR JANUARY…

December 30th, 2017

In the final chapter of his book, How To Be A Stoic, Massimo Picliucci offers 12 practical spiritual exercises. In the coming year I’m going to devote one month to each of these exercises. For January I begin with: Examine Your Impressions. “So make a practice at once of saying to every strong impression, ‘An […]

PLAINLY THERE’S A WORD FOR FIGURING OUT LIFE…

December 29th, 2017

The Greeks had a word for everything. My new word from reading Massimo Picliucci’s How To Be A Stoic is eudaemonia: well-being or happiness. Happiness ought not to be confused with fun. Eudaemonia is about purpose and direction. Picliucci dives much deeper here, but for now let’s begin with this: Eudaemonic: having the objective of […]

DON’T KILL THE SNAKE, JUST AVOID THE PATH…

December 29th, 2017

I’m reminded of a scene from W—a movie I could not watch because I lacked distance—where Vice President Dick Cheney discusses whether or not a 1 percent chance that a salad might have been poisoned was a good reason to not eat the salad as a metaphor for sacrificing millions to the possibility that there […]

DISHONORABLE ACTS DESERVE NO CREDIT…

December 28th, 2017

Typically when I post notes from My Electronic Chapbook, I do so in order. I finished transcribing my notes to Harold Evans’ Do I Make Myself Clear? Why Writing Well Matters this afternoon and I was so stuck by my final note, I felt compelled to not only share the note immediately, but also to […]

LIFE, NOTHING MORE, IS THE MEANING OF LIFE…

December 27th, 2017

We begin, we end; we are born and we die. Some pass on their DNA. Some do not. What transpires between those two bookends of existence has no meaning beyond that which we choose to imbue our seconds, minutes, hours and days. Most of us suck at creating meaning. A few do not; but in […]

MULDER WAS RIGHT, THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE…

December 26th, 2017

In learning there is mastery but no masters. We may conquer some small corner of the Universe, we may come to understand all that we think there is to know about that corner, but there will always be someone—like Giordano Bruno—who looks and says, wait, the corner is an illusion and we must explore what […]

EMBRACING THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA…

December 26th, 2017

Happiness, I’m convinced, is like cold and darkness, it is marked by an absence—heat in the case of cold and light in the case of darkness—rather than a presence. For me, true happiness is the absence of stress, conflict and disruption. Happiness is not the dopamine shot we get by obtaining some experience or object […]

WE ARE ALL DESIGNED BY NATURAL SELECTION…

December 25th, 2017

We are shaped, as is all life, by natural selection. Thoughts and behaviors that result in our surviving the myriad of threats to our lives get coded into our DNA. Those that don’t, don’t. Millennia after our initial coding, the legacy remains and understanding how that drives our daily experiences can be informative. Our brains […]

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