On writing

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, a philosopher who has written nonfiction for non-philosophers, as well as novels, is interviewed in The Chronicle of Higher Education about writing. Some of her insights about those kinds of writing seem just as relevant to—and helpful for—the kind of writing philosophers typically do. Below is part of the interview and a link to the original.

So do you think of yourself as a writer?

Goldstein: I’m not sure what it means to think of yourself as a writer. I primarily communicate through writing, that’s true. And I’ve always been acutely sensitive to the aesthetics of the written word. As a kid I’d copy out sentences, whole passages, that I thought were great, trying to assimilate them into my core. Individual words, too. We had few books in my home; we weren’t wealthy enough to buy them, especially since there was a decent public library in town.

But at a certain point, a used copy of Roget’s Thesaurus was acquired, and I went mad for it. I used it for bedtime reading. Those streams of words, all the nuances between them, worked on me like poetry. I also spent time memorizing writing I loved, mostly poems, trying to internalize them. That sounds like the childhood of a writer.

Source.

English: Graf Writer in a Mural

English: Graf Writer in a Mural (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remembering Professor Stuurman

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Remembering Stuurman

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy: they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust

RUSSELL: Douwe Stuurman?

HARDIN: Well, he’s one of a kind. He was one of the spearheads of the movement to keep this [UCSB] a small liberal arts campus. He was, as you know, at Oxford–a Rhodes Scholar–and very much a lover of humanities in a traditional sense. I don’t know how one could summarize him. You know plenty about him anyway. He’s quite unusual. [from UCSB interview]

Remembrance of things past: It is appropriate  to think back on the year and all of the years that have slipped by so quickly, and it is appropriate to begin with a Proust quote, for the subject of this remembrance was a great Proust student: Douwe Stuurman. University of California Professor Stuurman. My MA advisor for my degree in English. A man who influenced generations of students in his long teaching career. A mentor, teacher, friend.

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Where’s Kim?

The Barn

Whatever happened to Kim Schneider? Several years ago and in another country I was writing a column for the local paper and came across a wonderful painter – Kim Schneider. I bought a painting from her (above – The Barn) and wrote a column about her.

Does anyone know what happened to Kim? Are you out there, Kim?

The painting, THE BARN, was recently transferred to our grandson and now hangs happily on his wall after a long time on ours!

Kim_Schneider

 

SS: Sticks and stones – and words


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When I was a university student (so many years ago) I was a big fan of Lenny Bruce. He was one of the best stand up comics of the time (all time?).

One of his routines began with “Nigger, nigger, nigger; fuck, fuck, fuck” – obviously for shock effect. And once he had the audience’s attention he would go on to talk about words: their power and our propensity for censorship. I am currently reading a fascinating book, Mick Hume’s Trigger Warning, which poses the question, “Is the fear of being offensive killing free speech?” Salman Rushdie writes of the book:

“This is an important book, and couldn’t be more timely. It’s strong- minded, unafraid, determined to knock down all the various specious arguments against free speech, unapologetic about insisting on the value of free expression, and terrifically will argued. In these weak-minded times it’s good to have so uncompromising a defence.”

A former student of mine tells me that he remembers the first day of class (so many years ago) and that I arrived, put my books down and said, “Fuck, fuck, fuck; . . . now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to work.” I doubt if I would do that today. It would offend someone who would complain to the human rights committee. Self censorship is a powerful deterrent.

Tainted words. Words we cannot use. Today we say “the N word and the F word” – how does that help? Even science has a problem with tainted words. “Social Darwinism” has been pejorative from the beginning. David Sloan Wilson has a short piece here talking about the E-word.

I solicit readers’ responses. Are there limits to free speech? If so, what?

A Ken Cathers’ poem

poetry

sons

[click on the title for a properly formatted version]

my  father left
no words

to relieve this
emptiness.

a quiet man
from a silent
country

he left no stories
to grow on
no dreams
to believe.

my sons
I come from a
dark settlement

know only the music
of cries
& whispers:

                       a sad inheritance.

my sons
I have spent
a whole life
rebuilding

constructing a shelter
of words
against the storm
I cannot escape

part of everything
you have
so easily
left behind.

sanctuary

Sunday’s Sermon: Stuurman

 

historyRemembering Stuurman

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy: they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust

RUSSELL: Douwe Stuurman?

HARDIN: Well, he’s one of a kind. He was one of the spearheads of the movement to keep this [UCSB] a small liberal arts campus. He was, as you know, at Oxford–a Rhodes Scholar–and very much a lover of humanities in a traditional sense. I don’t know how one could summarize him. You know plenty about him anyway. He’s quite unusual.

It is appropriate at this time of year to think back on the year and all of the years that have slipped by so quickly, and it is appropriate to begin with a Proust quote, for the subject of this remembrance was a great Proust student: Douwe Stuurman. University of California Professor Stuurman. My MA advisor for my degree in English. A man who influenced generations of students in his long teaching career. A mentor, teacher, friend.

Continue reading