Monthly Archives: November 2016

I found myself saying . . .

… on this particular day I was feeling rebellious. My father was an exceedingly patient teacher, and I usually was a student very willing to listen. But on this day I found myself saying to my father, “No”. I wasn’t willing to try things his way; I didn’t want to listen to him. I wanted to do things my way. I wanted him to listen to me. We were arguing and we had never argued. I mean never.

“Listen”, Dad said. “I just want you to try something here”.

“No, I’m not going to do that. That’s stupid.”   Michael Bamberger, Davis Love III III … Every Shot I Take


In the month of December, 1993, . . . my wife Carol died very suddenly, essentially without warning, of a brain tumor. She was not yet 43, and our children, Danny and Monica, were but five and two. . . . .

One day, as I gazed at a photograph of Carol taken a couple of months before her death, I looked at her face and I looked so deeply that I felt I was behind her eyes, and all at once, I found myself saying, as tears flowed, “That’s me! That’s me!” And those simple words brought back many thoughts that I had had before, about the fusion of our souls into one higher-level entity, about the fact that at the core of both our souls lay our identical hopes and dreams for our children, about the notion that those hopes were not separate or distinct hopes but were just one hope, one clear thing that defined us both, that welded us together into a unit, the kind of unit I had but dimly imagined before being married and having children. I realized then that although Carol had died, that core piece of her had not died at all, but that it lived on very determinedly in my brain.             Douglas R Hofstadter I Am a Strange Loop


My parents died years ago. I was very close to them. I still miss them terribly. I know I always will. I long to believe that their essence, their personalities, what I loved so much about them, are – really and truly – still in existence somewhere. I wouldn’t ask very much, just five or ten minutes a year, say, to tell them about their grandchildren, to catch them up on the latest news, to remind them that I love them. There’s a part of me – no matter how childish it sounds – that wonders how they are. “Is everything all right?” I want to ask. The last words I found myself saying to my father, at the moment of his death, were “Take care.”                                                                                Carl Sagan


Alongside the cemetery there are woods. Alone at my mother’s grave, I looked up at the sound of rustling. Just beyond the fence there was a fox. It looked mangy and hungry. Running in what seemed to be aimless circles, it soon found its way into the cemetery and ran among the graves. It leaped up and sat on a headstone. I could feel panic rising within me, even as I told myself to stay calm. I would not be able to get to the car without passing the fox, nor could I safely go over the jagged chain-link fence. I found myself saying to my mother words that would not usually come from my mouth, Yiddish words that I once heard my father say in the name of his mother as we stood at his father’s grave, zeit a guter beter/be a good intercessor. After a while the fox moved further away, still among the graves but far enough now for me to say good-bye to mom and make my way quickly to the car.

In memory of my mother Sarah Chavah bas Yosef v’Rivkah, Rabbi Victor  (from here) 


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Fiction should not be didactic

When I say that fiction shouldn’t be didactic, I don’t mean that it shouldn’t or can’t have political or moral-ethical heft. I’m saying that stories shouldn’t exist as too-easy proofs for one’s pre-existing beliefs. And this isn’t really a moral statement by me, or an aesthetic credo – it’s more owner’s-manual stuff: a story like that simply won’t work. It’s proceeding by methods which are counter to the physics of the form.

When we think of how ‘solutions’ might be presented or represented in a fictive setting, we might want to remember Chekhov’s admonition that art doesn’t have to solve problems, it just has to formulate them correctly. Fiction writing is pattern-making. We aim to make beautiful patterns, but how to do that is not rigorously known, since each pattern’s beauty has to do with the extent to which the pattern is aware of, and referring to, itself. In a fictive space, the mere suggestion of an impulse is often enough. . . . .  So if we see fiction as a scale-model, you only need one railroad car to suggest a national transportation system, and one of the pleasures of the fictive scale model is that sense that everything is present and accounted for and in some sort of pleasing proportion. Whatever might move a human being towards perfection or enlightenment can be shown in a story – maybe fleetingly, maybe through its absence – but I don’t think we need to worry about solutions.

 (From here) 

George Saunders

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