Minor bummer of the day: I filled a big paper Yard&Lawn bag with frost-bitten apples and frosty leaves. Frost-bitten apples weigh more than you'd think. I hoisted it, and bear-hugged it, that bag. Filling it had given me a sense of accomplishment. So had hoisting it. ACE, the bag said, and I thought, ACE. Holding it, however, did not give me a sense of accomplishment. It gave me a slippery sense of dropping it. I staggered forth up the asphalt drive. Twice I had to stop and rest and hoist again, and upon attaining the curb, I let it fall, and when it met the ground, it split, as if the paper had been unzipped, and out spilled frosty innards--apples, leaves. Here ends the minor bummer of the day.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
From Robert Hass's "An Oak Grove," which appears in What Light Can Do: Essays on Art, Imagination, and the Natural World:
One of the gifts people who teach can give to students is a sense of complexity, because desire tends to simplify what it sees. We are usually, left to ourselves, egrets fishing through our smeared reflections. Another thing teachers can give them is the gift of seeing what’s there. They can give them some of the skills of distinction, discrimination, and description and give them concepts of enormous power to refine and organize their seeing. Seeing what’s there usually requires patient observation and the acquisition of particular skills and disciplines—not that those things guarantee our seeing clearly or freshly. Often in both the arts and the sciences, we see what’s there in a flash, but it has taken us hours or years of patient labor to get there and then to name what we have seen.
Monday, October 14, 2013
From Nicholson Baker's short essay "Mowing":
Finding things out: there is an infinitude of things you don't know, but it's not a very interesting infinitude, because it has no grain. Only some of the unknown things, a much smaller subset, are things that you are aware of not knowing, and then within that subset is a smaller set still—the unknowns that pull at you. Curiosity is a way of ordering and indeed paring down the wildness of the world. Of all the unmown fields, all the subjects I don't know anything about, this one right here is the one I would like to pursue. Why? Because nobody else is, and because it happens to be whole if I pursue this topic, knowing that it is obscure enough that nobody would be foolish enough to duplicate my efforts. I will mow my own lawn, part of it, anyway.
Monday, July 29, 2013
A sketch I wrote on request for the spring 2013 issue of the Knight-Wallace Fellowship house organ.
|photo credit: Josh Neufeld|
Guards in polished helmets and long topcoats with shiny brass buttons stood sentry on pedestals, still as toy soldiers, one gloved hand propped on a rifle, the other tucked neatly into the small of the back. The foreign journalists snapped photographs of them. Overhead the flag of Turkey made a red motion in the overcast sky.
Into the emptiness and monumental stillness there now came an excited disturbance dressed in black. He had a black ball cap on. A brown leather satchel was slung over a shoulder. He carried a pointer with a red ribbon tied to the tip. Black sneakers squeaking on the marble, he bustled into the midst of the foreign journalists, poking the sky with his pointer and waggling the red bow. “Come! Come!” he said. “We walk in a hurry way, because of time.”
Posted by Donovan Hohn at 3:48 PM
Friday, May 17, 2013
Last January, Harper's asked me to eulogize the late novelist and essayist Evan S. Connell (1924–2013):
[Sieff:] Mr. Bridge copies out a love letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne: “Thou only hast revealed me to myself; for without thy aid, my best knowledge of myself, would have been merely to know my own shadow—to watch it flickering on the wall, and mistake its fantasies for my own real actions.” In your poem Notes from a Bottle Found at the Beach in Carmel, you write almost the opposite: “Come with me or stay. I am full of dreams and charged with strange excitement. Although I am not at ease in this world, there is no one who can stop me.”
[Connell:] This over here is a two-thousand-year-old tortilla maker.The rest of the sneak preview is here.
Posted by Donovan Hohn at 5:40 AM
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Sunday, September 9, 2012
Posted by Donovan Hohn at 8:17 AM