Soul-making is a crafting, said James Hillman

Soul-making is like any other imaginative activity. It requires crafting, just as does politics, agriculture, the arts, love relations, war, or the winning of any natural resource. What is given won’t get us through; something must be made of it.  From The Dream and the Underworld, by James Hillman, a deeply informed exploration of theContinue reading “Soul-making is a crafting, said James Hillman”

“Radical Distraction” by Saul Bellow

From Saul Bellow, in an essay from 1975, published in Critical Inquiry: “We are in a state of radical distraction,” he writes in “A World Too Much with Us,” an essay for the journal Critical Inquiry, in 1975, the same year Humboldt’s Gift appears. “I don’t see how we can be blind to the politicalContinue reading ““Radical Distraction” by Saul Bellow”

Visiting Larry McMurtry at Booked Up

A few years ago, back in the days when the LATimes had a stand-alone Sunday magazine, Scott Kraft wrote a tremendous story about visiting Larry McMurtry, the writer, author of "The Last Picture Show," "Lonesome Dove," and "Terms of Endearment," among many other great stories, at his bookstore in tiny Archer City Texas. It's called The Loner.

A couple of noteworthy lines:

McMurtry lives in a majestic three-story home a few doors down from the single-story house where he grew up and not far from the high school where he graduated in 1954 among a senior class of 19. He moved back to Archer City, population 1,848, just five years ago.

He keeps mostly to himself, and locals know better than to try to engage him in chitchat. "He's a very conservative-type feller," says Max Wood, the town's 68-year-old mayor. Wood has known McMurtry since high school but doesn't consider himself a close friend. "Larry was always the type of person who was more of a loner."

Here's a picture of McMurtry, from a photo posted in one of his bookstores in Booked Up:

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Well, to put it simply, to learn that one of this nation's greatest writers has a bookstore — a monster bookstore — in a famous (from "The Last Picture Show") little town in Texas, and what's more hangs out at his store, and can be talked to — well, I had to visit. So yesterday, after attending a reporting workshop that gave me the chance to visit Dallas, two hours away, I did.

More below…

Understanding Tennessee: how he projected his “wound”

Writing for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Greg Barrios (who has written two plays about Tennessee Williams and Williams' two great loves, Frank Merlo and Pancho Rodriguez) interviews John Lahr, who just published last year an award-winning biography of Tennessee Williams called Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh. It's absolutely fascinating, "literary detection" as The Guardian says. What I likeContinue reading “Understanding Tennessee: how he projected his “wound””

On (almost) the same page: Virginia Woolf and Carl Jung

Great minds think alike, the nine zillionth example:

Virginia Woolf, from To the Lighthouse

"She felt…how life, from being made up of little separate incidents which one lived one by one, became curled and whole like a wave which bore one up with it and threw one down with it, there, with a dash on the beach." 

Virginia-Woolf-Art-Life-a-009

[painting of Woolf by her sister, Vanessa Bell]

The freedom in walking lies in being no one: Philosopher

A delightfully light (but thoughtful) interview focuses on a new book — A Philosophy of Walking — written by a French professor who takes the subject so seriously he's nervous about answering questions from a reporter.  From The Guardian: It is a sunny spring Sunday and – joy! – I am off to Paris toContinue reading “The freedom in walking lies in being no one: Philosopher”

Facing Drought Together: The Ojai Retreat 3/9/2014

Bill O'Brien, a civil engineer, Victoria Loorz, a pastor, myself, and Ulrich Brugger, who directs The Ojai Retreat, are putting together a public conversation which we hope will help motivate people of the Ojai Valley to take a serious look at our drought and what we can do about it.      We also intend toContinue reading “Facing Drought Together: The Ojai Retreat 3/9/2014”

The lazy man’s guide to a classic roast chicken recipe

Both the LA Times and the San Francisco Chronicle gave Judy Rodgers of the Zuni Cafe a warm send-off and reprinted her classic roast chicken recipe, which has won big awards and international acclaim.  Here's the obituary/recipe, and here (below) is an easy version of the chicken recipe for lazy people that still comes outContinue reading “The lazy man’s guide to a classic roast chicken recipe”

A great essay on a great writer: Messud on Camus

A great review will not only change your mind, but make you see — and feel — afresh. Such is Claire Messud's essay on Albert Camus' Algerian Chronicles, in the 50th anniversary issue of the New York Review of Books. Must read! But if you don't, here are some reasons — from Camus — whyContinue reading “A great essay on a great writer: Messud on Camus”