Tuesday, September 16, 2008

David Foster Wallace

I was listening to NPR today and was drawn into an interview with author David Foster Wallace. He was describing his youth in playing tennis and the mindset of athletes compared to his own. Plagued with doubts about his ability, he was never able to perform on the courts.

He went on to talk about life and the emptiness of material things. He was engaging and interesting. Seemingly upbeat and somewhat positive, he offered the occasional chuckle to punctuate his weighty insight. What a valuable mind, thoughtful and provoking.

The segment ended with a note that it had been cut from a 1996 interview with the author and that last Friday night he had taken his own life.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

He speaks... about summer.

So, the posts are starting to come a little less frequently, I know. School has me busy again. There are a few preliminary things that take up my free time right now, but once those are out of the way, I think my schedule will become a little more natural, and I'll be able to devote more time to writing. In the few minutes I have right now to get a post out, I'll summarize a little about this summer.

To start, this was probably one of the best summers so far. It was extremely productive and rewarding. I learned a lot about discipline and willpower. My goal-setting allowed me to focus my time and energy into work that achieved things not for the present, but for the future. There's a value in hard work that is hard to see for the less mature. I think that I'm coming out of that "less mature" stage, albeit slowly at times.

If I were to name two important things that I learned from this summer, I might list them below. And in fact, I did:

1. If you can cultivate a motivation, a focus, and a plan, you really can accomplish things you used to just sit around and wish for. In just a few short months, you can take a few classes, complete a few massive research projects, go to Chile, build a piano studio, and maybe read a few books on the side.


2. Time is valuable. Once it is gone, it is gone. You'll never get it back. And any benefit you might have reaped from focus and hard work during that time is lost, as well.


Monday, September 8, 2008

The Iceberg Theory

A poem by Gerald Locklin.

all the food critics hate iceberg lettuce.
you'd think romaine was descended from
orpheus's laurel wreath,
you'd think raw spinach had all the nutritional
benefits attributed to it by popeye,
not to mention aesthetic subtleties worthy of
verlaine and debussy.
they'll even salivate over chopped red cabbage
just to disparage poor old mr. iceberg lettuce.

I guess the problem is
it's just too common for them.
it doesn't matter that it tastes good,
has a satisfying crunchy texture,
holds its freshness,
and has crevices for the dressing,
whereas the darker, leafier varieties
are often bitter, gritty, and flat.
it just isn't different enough, and
it's too goddamn american.

of course a critic has to criticize:
a critic has to have something to say.
perhaps that's why literary critics
purport to find interesting
so much contemporary poetry
that just bores the shit out of me.

at any rate, I really enjoy a salad
with plenty of chunky iceberg lettuce,
the more the merrier,
drenched in an italian or roquefort dressing.
and the poems I enjoy are those I don't have
to pretend that I'm enjoying.