Thursday, September 12, 2013

I'll show you the life of the mind

Alas, the summer got away from me. I started out with the best of intentions, but various commitments prevented me from checking in here at all.

I do have updates to share. One is that I have begun working on a new book. To that end, I have been doing a lot of reading (one reason I have been off the grid). My summer booklist included, but was not limited to, Jaron Lanier's Who Owns the Future?, Sam Kean's The Violinist's Thumb, Jill Lepore's The Mansion of Happiness, Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly's All Things Shining, Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Nicholas Carr's The Shallows, Michel Onfray's Atheist Manifesto, Evgeny Morozov's The Net Delusion, Carlin Romano's America the Philosophical, and Colin Meloy's Wildwood

If you think that's a strange list of books, just imagine the connections I am trying to make between them! 

Other updates, and more regular blogging, coming soon.

In the meantime, I have been pondering these words of Alan Jacobs, which beautifully capture my own struggles as a writer:

And yet many have been my idle words over the years. I wonder how much harm they have done to others, and even to me. I did not publish my first book until I was nearly 40, and while I used to regret that late start, I now am thankful that I didn’t get the chance earlier in life to pour forth yet more sentences to spend my latter years regretting. A handful of times over the years I have drafted essays only to realize, before submitting them, that I did not want to say what I had written there; and a few other times I have had cause to thank editors for rejecting pieces that, had they been published, would have brought me embarrassment later.
In some cases the embarrassment would have been because of arguments badly made or paragraphs awkwardly formed; but in others because of a simple lack of charity or grace. An essay begins with an idea, but an idea begins with a certain orientation of the mind and will — with a mood, if you please. We have only the ideas that our mood of the moment prepares us to have, and while our moods may be connected to the truth of things, they are normally connected only to some truths, some highly partial facet of reality. Out of that mood we think; out of those thoughts we write. And it may be that only in speaking those thoughts do we discern the mood from which they arose. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” — a terrifying judgment, when you think of it.