RE: Introspective or Narcissistic? –

Introspective or Narcissistic? - As an introspective youth I did not keep a journal but examined myself into deep depression, nonetheless. The self-absorption accomplished nothing, and the nothing that I was accomplishing led only to more depression. Taking a more objective view, I figured accomplishing something might be the best medicine. I undertook a difficult creative project and managed to complete it to my satisfaction. The project took me out of myself because it had nothing

The Rise of the Helicopter Teacher – The Conversation – Blogs – The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Rise of the Helicopter Teacher – The Conversation - Blogs - The Chronicle of Higher Education.   Why should a professor of history at a major university have any idea what a rubric or a learning objective is? And why should he be embarrassed if he doesn't. Presumably, he did not study at Sippery Rock State Teachers College, where third rate high school graduates struggle to master Teaching for Dummies to qualify for semi-skilled jobs in K - 12 institutions. In countries with good

Regarding Democratic Culture

I posted this one here. If I had to make a choice between a democratic polity with a plutocratic culture and a plutocratic polity with democratic culture, I would choose the former, and Ira Glass's tweet is a perfect example of why. I think it not coincidental that the Internet has arisen as a means to democratize the culture at the very time that our politics are ever more ominously plutocratic. Permitting freedom of cultural expression in such a political context is key to conserving the power

No, Literature Should Be Interesting, Regardless of Relatability

This one I posted in the NY Times. It is here because it is up my alley. Tolstoy didn't think much of Shakespeare either, but it wasn't on account of relatability. I recently dipped into War and Peace for the first time since my school days and found the first several chapters of it so intolerably banal, that it didn't seem worthwhile to proceed. So many frivolous people, so much quotidian dialogue. It admirably represents the banality of the ruling class in aristocratic societies and I'm sure the

A Gold Standard Would Make Things Worse. A comment for John Mauldin and Steve Forbes

I wrote this a comment on John Mauldin's website but found I couldn't login, neither as a subscriber (I recieve his emails regularly, but my address is not in his database, neither do I have FACEBOOK account, due to the compny's willingness to cooperate with the NSA. Steve Forbes Article Anyone who thinks we need the gold standard either doesn't understand about money, or simply wants to make it scarce so that it can be lent at usurious rates, as it was in the 19th century. They conveniently

Latest Read

The Collapse Of Globalism: And The Reinvention Of The World by John Ralston Saul My rating: 5 of 5 stars Very briefly, I have always enjoyed what I've read by Saul and find myself in agreement with him, but having just finished reading this one I can only wonder if his case for Globalism having ended was not several years premature. He seems to underestimate the tenacity of its proponents, and the pusillanimity of its opponents. But he does to a wonderful job of shredding it... tying it

The Great Canards of Creative Writing

Write What You Know Having read reams of slush pile fiction, I have waded into numerous manuscripts that give the lie to the principle of Write What You Know. Frankly, it leads to a lot of writing about mundane daily routines, what might be called the workplace novel, or perhaps, even, the house spouse novel, that could not be more atrocious as fiction. They are all pretty much the same. They begin with waking up in the morning and getting breakfast together, dealing with the spouse and the

Point of View

One of the choices we face as writers, when approaching a new project, is how best to establish a narrative point of view. Third person omniscient (the author as narrator, thus able to enter the mind of every character) used to be standard, and is still used by many popular authors. It gives the author Godlike powers, and seems easier to bring off successfully than it is. The transition from one character's head to another can be a problem, as is the temptation to explain to the reader far more

Hit Lit and Lit Fic

I recently finished reading James Hall's excellent book on the craft of the bestselling novel, Hit Lit. He describes the many elements that bestselling novels share, with the coda that they are not, by themselves, enough to make a book a bestseller. What is needed, in addition, Hall says, is the passion of the writer for his subject matter and his characters. I particularly enjoyed his enlightening opening chapter, in which he writes about the novel's historical function as a form of popular entertainment.