Hold It All

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Thought for the End of One Year and the Beginning of Another

“Why count the days, when even one day is enough for man to know all happiness. My dears, why do we quarrel, boast before each other, remember each other’s offenses? Let us go to the garden, let us walk and play and love and praise and kiss each other, and bless our life.”

~Markel, in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov



A predictably wonderful thing about late December–getting to see  Thuy Khuu when she comes back for a visit.


with Thuy at Cafe Ventana, January 2015

“I Think I Was Trying to Suggest Something about the Duality of Man…”

Title is taken from “Joker” in Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket.

Wherever We Are Useful

Katharina Mommsen, Goethe’s Art of Living
Trafford, 2003
Translators: John Crosetto, John Whaley, Renee M. Schell

A teacher who can awaken a sense of a single good deed or a single good poem accomplishes more than one who simply coveys an entire catalog of natural phenomena categorized by form and name.  
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe,  143 

Drawing extensively on her grasp of Goethe’s vast oeuvre, Katharina Mommsen fills her book with many passages from Goethe’s works and offers some helpful commentary. The book has the following sections:  Facing the World, Nature, Joy of Being Active, Art of Life and Living, Fundamental Joys of Life, Enthusiasm for the Young, and Reflections.


While reading her book, I thought several times of Sri  Eknath Easwaran, whose neo-Hinduism dovetails at times with Goethe’s strongly secular orientation, particularly about relations with the young and concentrated work and productivity— 

“Day and night is not an empty phrase; many nighttime hours, which I spend sleeplessly as befits the fate of my age, are dedicated not to vague and general thoughts, but to precise contemplation of what to do the following day, which in the morning I dutifully begin as far as possible to carry out. And so I perhaps do more and cleverly  accomplish in the allotted days, what once was wasted time in which one justifiably thought or imagined that there was always another tomorrow.” Read the rest of this entry »

I Like To See “Selfies”

They are a bell of mindfulness
Reminding me of one of my favorite songs

From the Beatles’ Let It Be
George singing “I Me Mine”

Modus Vivendi

A world of images is offered by Christ — better, dramatized by him — images of waiting, listening, observing, debating, healing, conveying hope and humor, telling stories that end with a question lodged like a seed in the heart.

–Dan Berrigan, from his commentary, Isaiah: Spirit of Courage, Gift of Tears

“Just Mow ‘Em Down”

Next month will mark the 50th anniversary of one of the very few well-known atrocities committed by U.S. forces in Vietnam. Compare mainstream coverage of this anniversary with the following …

Michael Bilton and Kevin Sim, Four Hours in My Lai  (New York: Penguin Books, 1992).
Seymour Hersh, My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and Its Aftermath (New York: Random House, 1970).

On March 16, 1968, over a hundred men of the Army’s Charlie Company of the Americal Division entered the village of Mỹ Lai and murdered over five hundred people, overwhelmingly women, children, and old men.  A military cover-up of the mass murder ensued. Lieutenant William “Rusty” Calley was the only member of the company or of the higher command who received any punishment, initially, a sentence of life imprisonment with hard labor, which became three and a half years under house arrest, after which he was released. Some in the Army were relieved as the Mỹ Lai massacre was eventually termed a “tragedy,” later to be viewed as an “incident.” Read the rest of this entry »

Why Translation Matters

Translation not only plays its important traditional role as the means that allows us access to literature  originally written in one of the countless languages we cannot read, but it also represents a concrete literary presence with the crucial capacity to ease and make more meaningful our relationship to those with whom we may not have had a connection before.  Translation always helps us to know, to see from a  different angle, to attribute new value to what once may have been unfamiliar. As nations and individuals, we have a critical need for that kind of understanding and insight. The alternative is unthinkable.

–Edith Grossman, translator of Don Quixote, author of Why Translation Matters



Gratitude for the 11 people who’ve been reading, writing, and sharing the past two months in the online “Be in Love with Yr Life” Class.

Palm Coast

My friends, the Burkempers, are vacationing at Palm Coast, and Liz sent me this photograph.