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Writing in Paradise

Happy Sunday!

Last week's workshop was AMAZING. Students beautiful, Banyan house beautiful, all of it, just gorgeous. A dream.

Thank you writers, for your trust and hard work.

Resting a bit, and then...getting ready for the second of three Maui workshops.

SIx spots left for August 15-22.

Come write your heart out...and then go wade in the ocean blue.

Register. 

xo

June 22nd, 2009

Yes, in fact, I do blame (F)eminism

So there seems to be outpouring of excitement about the Katie Roiphe piece on Double XX on motherhood as a narcotic. 

What frustrates about this "excitement" on Salon and all the other more "mainstream" blogs, is the way editors and many readers ignore the work of women outside of their "milieu" be they poor, black, Asian-American, gay, male, community-college educated or otherwise.

My book Baby Love, for example, is also about the subject of feminism and motherhood and making a surprising and seemingly "anti-feminist" choice, and yet received none of the nuanced treatment. In fact, Salon used my piece on this exact subject to excoriate me personally, running an ill-informed post by Phyllis Chesler in which I was labeled misguided, confused, and in the throes of some kind of misplaced mother-daughter drama. My work was dismissed as personal pathology.

Which brings us to Katie Roiphe. Good gracious, she and I hashed it out on Charlie Rose ten years ago. Her intellect is no more superior, her writing no more "eloquent," but her privilege is, truly, many more generations deep, and certain editors apparently believe she has much more in common with their readers--an unfair assessment.

The entire episode reminds me of one of the more insightful things my mother told me (and regardless of the current state of our relationship, my mother has told me MANY insightful things):

"We read them, but really, they do not read us."

Meaning, of course, that many white women of privilege and access think what they write is new because they don't really bother to read the work of women (and men) outside of their race and/or class. And yet we think nothing of reading theirs and weighing their contributions as part of our process of informing ourselves as we begin to do our own work.

And, really, truly, the bottom line? I blame it on (F)eminism. Why is it that women of privilege are able to do this with impunity in the name of (F)eminism?

Because this kind of racial and economic apartheid is built into contemporary, especially Second Wave, (F)eminism. This latest exchange of pseudo-philosophical banter is just one more line item on an exhaustive list of betrayals, insults, and selective dismissals of the work of many self-identified feminists and others who have long ago abandoned their affiliation.

This remains a breathtakingly short-sighted method of engagement. 

June 1st, 2009

Charles and Ray Eames debut their lounge chair, on NBC

Inspired to look for some video on these two after a meeting in the Time Life building yesterday. Mid-century modern is a little later than Time Life, but still...

Love the note about the successful man and woman "helper." And then Ray's smart responses. 



Arlene Francis is classic.
May 29th, 2009

Story Time with Barack: Where The Wild Things Are

LOVE.

May 25th, 2009

The Art of Memoir on Maui

Happy Sunday!

Just a few spots left for the writing retreat. 

Come write your heart out...and then go wade in the ocean blue.

Register. 

May 24th, 2009

Black in America, Pt One

 
 
 Black in America
 
As we approach the airing of Black in America Pt 2, I thought I'd pull out my post from the Root that ricocheted across the web last year in response to Pt 1, and was then erased entirely when the Root did their site re-design.
 
Black in America: Ain't I Woman?

It's not pretty, but I'm going to tell you what I think.

More

May 21st, 2009

Today: Nothing

May 16th, 2009

Alice Coltrane's Journey In Satchidananda

 

“Direct inspiration for ‘Journey In Satchidananda’ comes from my meeting and association with someone who is near and dear to me. I am speaking of my own beloved spiritual preceptor, Swami Satchidananda. Swamiji is the first example I have seen in recent years of Universal Love or God in action. He expresses an impersonal love which encompasses thousands of people. Anyone listening to this selection should try to envision himself floating on an ocean of Satchidanandaji’s love, which is literally carrying countless devotees across the vicissitudes and stormy blasts of life to the other shore. Satchidananda means knowledge, existence, bliss."

Alice Coltrane -- Journey In Satchidananda
 
One of my all time favorites--Alice and her husband John Coltrane remind me in many ways of John and Yoko. Two powerful artists, together. Searching for a higher plane. 
May 11th, 2009

A little theory today.

 

"None of us can ever retrieve that innocence before all theory when art knew no need to justify itself, when one did not ask of a work what it said because one knew (or thought one knew) what it did. From now to the end of consciousness, we are stuck with the task of defending art."

Susan Sontag, Against Interpretation

And, of course, painting by Mark Rothko.

May 5th, 2009

Celebrate the Happiness of Another

I like to visit the Campaign for Love and Forgiveness from time to time. This piece especially spoke to me today. The online ritual of forgiveness is a favorite aspect of this ongoing project. 

From their site:

Love

Image of men forgivingCelebrate the Happiness of Another
In The Kabbalah of Envy, Rabbi Nilton Bonder explains a practice that will reinforce love in any situation. "Yiddish has a very special verb, unknown to most other languages: farginen. It means to open space, to share pleasure; it is the exact opposite of the verb to envy. While envy means disliking or resenting the happiness of others, farginen means making a pact with another individual's pleasure or happiness."

The next time you hear about someone else's good fortune, notice your reaction. Do you find yourself having to force a smile and giving rather insincere congratulations? Do you ask, "Why didn't this happen to me?" It is in such moments that many relationships start to deteriorate, so it is important to be able to practice farginen with another person instead.

"To develop the ability to farginen," Bonder advises, "we must first recall from our own experience those moments when we were able to do it. And if this feeling was sincere, it will certainly have been felt with great happiness, a kind of catharsis. Every time we are able to celebrate someone else's happiness, we will, by definition, have greater reason to celebrate ourselves. In this way, we can widen our chances for enjoying life, freeing ourselves from the imprisonment of our own luck. Farginen sets up networks of confidence that enrich life."

Desmond Tutu and Dalai Lama hugging Show Simple Affection
Do you shy away from hugging family or friends? From putting an arm around someone's shoulder or showing affection to your husband, wife or partner in front of your children? Many of us like to receive affection. A pat on the back, a smile and squeeze of a hand can generate good feelings. Still, social conventions and fear of what people may think can stop us from expressing our feelings in simple physical gestures. Perhaps we need more of that. Over the next week, try showing more affection to your family and friends. Note how it makes you feel and whether you detect any shifts in your relationships because of it.

May 3rd, 2009