What I'm Reading, Vol. Twelve

Friday, October 04, 2013


The Power of the Meaningless: Why we don't need a reason for everything
Getting away from meaning allows the stress-free expression of action without weighty consequence. If you skip work, if you simply don't go, there are consequences so great that they could threaten your very existence. Going to school can feel the same. Raising our children, cleaning our apartments, running errands, all of these things are life or death decisions. But finding a place where the consequences aren't so great allows us a place to relax. Finding the opportunity to do something meaningless allows us to play, to take risk and fail without some repercussion that may kill us in the end. There is a host of things you can do that are meaningless. Build a house of cards. Make an origami bird. Cut down a tree and leave it there. Simply doing an action or activity that has no meaning is not the point. The power of the meaningless is found in exploring something you're interested in, something you like, something that excites you, but without the pressure of having to make that thing your career or become a master of it or get approval.

Your Stories and Good Writing
I'm with fantasy writer Philip Pullman, "after nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world." Despite a full-to-overflowing and sometimes hectic life, I make room for stories. I crave stories. I'm unabashed about it, I'll take narratives just about any way I can get them: telephone conversations, best books, posts, the news, letters, songs (rap if I have to), assignments I give to students, ticker or semi-encrypted notes doodled on yellow-lined paper. Stories are like oxygen to me -- they breathe life into the familiar.

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