Saturday Links for the Week: October 18, 2008

Colleen's Dog
Photo: Colleen’s dog, just because just looking at him makes me smile.

What Moves the Artist: Most of my circles, and my readers, are artists in one way or another, so I was intrigued by Malcolm Gladwell’s portrait of two forms of artistic genius — the conceptual prodigy (e.g. Picasso), who peaks early, and cares about outcome, versus the experimenting slogger (e.g. CÈzanne), who peaks late, and is preoccupied by learning and process. TS Eliot, my favourite poet, made the transition, and though Prufrock (written at age 23) is his most loved work, the Four Quartets (written a quarter century later) is, in my opinion, far more accomplished. In a piece a couple of weeks ago PS Pirro wrote “I visualize the end product, but not the daily process. That’s my error. Because one page at a time, one sentence at a time, it’s the doing that matters. What’s done is just… done.” I am like her — I have tried to make the transition from the flashes of brilliance in my young writing (with much inactivity and some ghastly and embarrassing stuff in between) to the more careful, studied work I do today. My great learning from Bowen Island was: There is only the practice. The genius of the prodigy is electric, inspiring, lyrical, transformative, but the genius of the patient and present practitioner is ultimately more connective, recognizable, and even (I suppose I should say this with an apologetic shrug) — useful.

The Real Battle for American Hearts and Minds: The anonymous political pundit who guest-posts on Joe Bageant’s blog has another brilliant analysis of what’s happening in the ‘heartland’. Excerpts:

The primary motivating factor in the development of the religious right is a defensive response to the challenges posed by the power of popular consumer and entertainment culture and not a backlash against progressive or liberal ideas and social movements…

When it comes to predicting the outcome of this struggle, there should be no doubt which side will ultimately prevail in this fight. Religious fundamentalism here and abroad is no match for the powers of popular, consumer and entertainment culture. The reason for that is very simple: popular consumer culture is the most powerful and attractive ideology in human history.[Unlike all other religions and ideologies] it demands no sacrifice from its faithful. It demands only that you purchase and consume and that you become passively entertained…

If progressives are serious about winning victories that can realign our politics, they must find a way to marry the legitimate criticism of the decadence of popular culture with criticism of the decadence of an economic system that creates the savage inequalities we see in America today. Once that is done, the entire project of the right collapses under the weight of its own contradictions.

Writing in Circles: Pohangina Pete writes poetically about how complexity touches us.

Winged Pilgrimage: Cassandra writes rhapsodically about the annual migration of the snow geese and asks whether our pilgrimages might have been inspired by our observation of birds, the dinosaurs’ flying descendants. I think it is entirely possible. Having made two pilgrimages this year, on the heels of saying I would trade places with a chickadee in a heartbeat, I think what we must realize is that for most birds migration is not an automatic instinct, it is a choice, a decision that flight to another climate is worth the many dangers that flight brings with it. Migration is a conscious movement, one dictated by necessity and the drive to survive. Our own pilgrimages are no less so. Excerpt:

My own inarticulateness, in the face of the emotions the geese arouse in me, tells me I’m in the place that contains fire and the great waterfalls; the sound of the hermit thrush and the flash of a school of bright minnows; a silent shaft of sun on moss in a dark woodland. The snow geese fly in that space of porosity between myself and the rest of nature, following a map imprinted in my own marrow, a route stretching forward beyond language, and back to a time before tongues.

And Wheeled Pilgrimage: Cheryl is chronicling her amazing pilgrimage around the perimeter of Australia with pictures and stories of the people she’s meeting and the astonishingly beautiful places she’s discovering. If you’ve never been to Australia, reading this blog will give you a flavour for life “down under”.

Stories of Transformation: Jen points us to a remarkable TED talk about Stories of Transformation, by Chris Abani, that shows us why stories are so powerful and illuminating. In one story he explains how his mother broke down when a Portuguese woman at an airport where Chris’ family was fleeing the horrors and atrocities of the Biafran war, emptied her suitcase to give her and her family everything she had packed, to help them begin to rebuild their lives. Her explanation for this breakdown after stoically coping with all the outrages and terrors of war:

You can steel your heart against any kind of trouble, any kind of horror, but a simple act of kindness from a complete stranger will unstitch you.

Just for Fun: Taller Than Trees, a delightful stop motion animation short by Joseph Mann. Thanks to Our Descent for the link. And in a sillier vein, Beth Patterson points us to Palin as President (click on the items in the oval office and make sure you have sound on).

Thought for the Week: Forget What “Is” (and What Is Wrong) Now and What/Who Caused It, and Just Start Over: From Jack Martin Leith, commenting to Geoff Brown and expanding upon Peter Block’s argument that we need to stop looking at things as problems to be ‘fixed’ (and people as their ’cause’) and start over with a fresh sheet of paper looking at what we want to create now (not solutions, not future state, not incremental approaches):

Solutions imply problems, in the way that yes implies no and day implies night. Itís not a shift from problems to solutions we need, but from problem solving to creating what we want – and making what we wantnot our desired future, but our desired present.
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3 Responses to Saturday Links for the Week: October 18, 2008

  1. Peter says:

    Hey Dave!There’s a new business model emerging for the 21st century based on sound collaboration between proven entrepreneurs.Entrepreneurs from all over the world are discovering the benefits of the Japanese keiretsu business model built on collaboration and cross-ownership.Under the keiretsu model, which helped fuel Japan’s

  2. He is awesome, ain’t he?Always makes me smile, too.

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