Blog Entries tagged 'writing'
Be Near Me
Faiz Ahmed Faiz
Translated by Naomi Lazard
Be near me now,
My tormenter, my love, be near me—
At this hour when night comes down,
When, having drunk from the gash of sunset, darkness comes
With the balm of musk in its hands, its diamond lancets,
When it comes with cries of lamentation,
with laughter with songs;
Its blue-gray anklets of pain clinking with every step.
At this hour when hearts, deep in their hiding places,
Have begun to hope once more, when they start their vigil
For hands still enfolded in sleeves;
When wine being poured makes the sound
of inconsolable children
who, though you try with all your heart,
cannot be soothed.
When whatever you want to do cannot be done,
When nothing is of any use;
—At this hour when night comes down,
When night comes, dragging its long face,
dressed in mourning,
Be with me,
My tormenter, my love, be near me.
Really appreciate this series of perspectives from the Times on digital vs analog reading.
I especially resonated with this one by Maryanne Wolf, John DiBiaggio Professor in the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development at Tufts, and the author of “Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain.”
After many years of research on how the human brain learns to read,
I came to an unsettlingly simple conclusion: We humans were never born
to read. We learn to do so by an extraordinarily ingenuous ability to
rearrange our “original parts” — like language and vision, both of
which have genetic programs that unfold in fairly orderly fashion
within any nurturant environment. Reading isn’t like that.
Each young reader has to fashion an entirely new “reading circuit” afresh every time. There is no one neat circuit just waiting to unfold. This means that the circuit can become more or less developed depending on the particulars of the learner: e.g., instruction, culture, motivation, educational opportunity.
Equally interesting, this tabula rasa circuit is shaped by the particular requirements of the writing system: for example, Chinese reading circuits require more visual memory than alphabets. This “open architecture” of the reading circuit makes the young reader’s developing circuit malleable to what the medium (e.g., digital online reading, book, etc) emphasizes.
And that, of course, is the problem at hand. No one really knows the ultimate effects of an immersion in a digital medium on the young developing brain. We do know a great deal, however, about the formation of what we know as the expert reading brain that most of us possess to this point in history.
"Art, especially the stage, is an area where it is impossible to walk without stumbling. There are in store for you many unsuccessful days and whole unsuccessful seasons: there will be great misunderstandings and deep disappointments…you must be prepared for all this, expect it and nevertheless, stubbornly, fanatically follow your own way.
"Years later, when Pushkin became famous, one teacher grumbled: “What’s all this fuss about Pushkin? He was a scamp—nothing more!” Engelgardt, the Lycée headmaster, took an even stronger dislike to his most famous pupil. His school report in 1816:
"Pushkin’s higher and only goal is to shine—in poetry, to be precise, though it is doubtful indeed he will ever succeed, because he shuns any serious scholarship, and his mind, utterly lacking in perspicacity or depth, is a completely superficial, frivolous French mind. And that is in fact the best thing that can be said about Pushkin. His heart is cold and empty: there is neither love nor religion in it. It is perhaps as empty as ever any youth’s heart has ever been."
"Anyone who’s ever dabbled in Zen Buddhism knows that “emptiness” can sometimes be an achievement of the highest order. Perhaps the very “emptiness” --or openness-- of Pushkin’s heart made it a perfect vessel for sublime expressions of love. His “emptiness” was a treasure not to be cluttered with skills for “the service of the state”. Already in the Lycee he had decided:
Farewell to ye, cold sciences!
I’m now from youthful games estranged!
I am a poet now; I’ve changed.
Within my soul both sounds and silence
Pour into one another, live,
In measures sweet both take and give.
So as many of you know, I love great design.
Crews is someone I've wanted to interview for years--his graphic work is that strong--and as I'm working on a book at the moment that integrates the visual arts, I sought him out.
I found him, and also the work of his daughter, Nina Crews, who is a terrific illustrator in her own right. I also found an interview with her in which she mentioned a favorite children's book that inspired her work.
It's called Nothing Ever Happens On My Block by Ellen Raskin. It was published in 1965. I immediately ordered it from Amazon. It arrived yesterday and is FANTASTIC. It's about a boy, Chester Filbert, who declares nothing ever happens on his block while a dozen fascinating stories play out behind him.
What makes the book so great, aside from its lovely, lovely design, is the way the six or seven mini-narratives unfold in the graphics behind Filbert. You have to keep going back to find the early versions of each one to follow them, which ends up feeling like a cross between a treasure hunt and reading six books in one.
And that's my post for today. Even when we think nothing is going on, we are at the center of an untold number of stories. We just have to wake up to them. Then we won't be like Chester Filbert, thinking nothing ever happens when really, we are at the center of universe.
Creative people are inspired by the creativity of others. Which hopefully explains why I've just spent an hour poring over Swedish fabrics from the 1940s.
My favorite of the collection is called, appropriately, Brown Hawaii:
I was thrilled to write the foreword for this book of images and narratives of multiracial people in America.
The Honolulu Advertiser covered it yesterday.
The last workshop was AMAZING. Students beautiful, Banyan house beautiful, all of it, just gorgeous. A dream.
New writers, come to Maui!
Five spots left for December 13-20.
Come write your heart out...and then go wade in the ocean blue.
But the expression of a well-made man appears not only in his face;
It is in his limbs and joints also, it is curiously in the joints of his hips and wrists;
It is in his walk, the carriage of his neck, the flex of his waist and knees—dress does not hide him;
The strong, sweet, supple quality he has, strikes through the cotton and flannel;
To see him pass conveys as much as the best poem, perhaps more;
You linger to see his back, and the back of his neck and shoulder-side.