Archive for Books – Page 2

Our Existential Moment…

As a college undergraduate I was enamored of Existentialism, that most romantic and nihilistic of French philosophies. I wore black turtleneck sweaters, smoked Lucky Strikes, and channeled Albert Camus, but my senior thesis, a derivative sophomoric critique of Camus’ Myth of Sisyphus, drew a disappointing response from Louise Gould, my tiny, intense, chain-smoking, comparative literature advisor.

Professor Gould was absolutely right, and I still blush when I think of it. She was simply pointing out that quoting established critics is not the same as rigorous analysis based on personal research. My thesis did not reflect the critical thinking skills required and expected of a college senior. read more

Admiration and Hope…

As the year draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on the good, the bad and the ugly of the previous twelve months. So much of our public discourse has been devoted to the ugly that I decided to end the year by shining a light on a few friends whose accomplishments and attitudes I find especially admirable. As I reflected, I was reminded of the serendipity of life – that random events and minor differences can alter the course of a life. Where you were born, when you were born, whether you inherit good genes or bad, are lucky or unlucky all play a part and remind us to focus and live in the present. read more

Advice to Self…

Screen Time

Remember when “parental control” was a euphemism for discipline. We invoked it when we thought the kids were watching too much television. Now parental controls are built in to their devices. A much better idea – no nagging – way to manage their “screen time.” That’s great for parenting but we parents need to limit our own screen time. We’re are drowning in TMI, too much information. We need self-discipline to control the deluge.

John Lennon told us, “Christ, you know it ain’t easy.” And it isn’t. Look around. Watch people on the bus. Nobody’s talking. Everybody’s staring at their phones. They’re consumed. TMI. Look at all the morbidly obese people the next time you go to Starbucks. Too many Frappuccino’s. TMF. I probably shouldn’t wade in these waters, but too much political news is just as bad for your health as too many Frappuccino’s.   read more

Movies, Marriage, and Metaphor…

Every year around Thanksgiving M and I anticipate the release of new films hoping for an Oscar nomination. This year is no exception. In the last two weeks we’ve seen three – Scorsese’s The Irishman with Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino, Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood with Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, and Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story starring Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver.

I was prepared for gory violence in the first two, but nothing prepared me for the pain and emotional violence of Marriage Story. I knew it would a roller coaster. I had seen Baumbach’s The Squid and the Whale (2005) nominated for a Best Screenplay Oscar and Francis Ha, his 2012 film starring his muse Greta Gerwig. Still, the characters in Marriage Story broke my heart because they and their story were so mainstream and tragic in their normalcy. read more

Travels in the Low Country…

This is the “Low Country.” Before our recent trip through the “Old South,” I knew almost nothing about this 187 miles of South Carolina coastline with its barrier or Sea Islands. Traditionally, the phrase refers to the former slave holding areas where rice and indigo, both labor intensive crops that thrived in the hot, wet, sub-tropical climate, were the foundation of its economy. I’ve always had an affinity for the “big sky” vistas of the western high desert, but this astonishingly beautiful landscape with its long chartreuse-colored sea grasses, blue sky, live oak, Spanish moss, and tidewater is equally striking. read more