Thursday, October 25, 2012

Books for breakfast, and then some

Today's Menu

Structure and Surprise, ed. Mike Theune


Early this morning, this link. More on Brenda Shaughnessy's new book, "Our Andromeda." Two women writers (mothers, with young sons) share their thoughts on the book, Plath's life, and other stuff that interests me.


1. I'm all for expanding the imagination as a way of expanding the world. But what do you do when you encounter a small mind? An idle mind that itches to cause trouble? A sick mind, one that is irretrievably lost, or broken?  As a child I spent my life dealing with a mind that circled mercilessly around itself, so that it saw nothing but itself--not even me. Hopefully my child will not have to deal with the same.

2. The mind is a powerful thing. It sees what it wants to see; it fulfills its own prophecies. Theory tells me we need a critical mind to weaken hegemony's hold. But a mind that is only critical, without hope, without joy? You might as well kill yourself now.

3. I know people who have tried to kill themselves. One of them actually succeeded, but not before suffering horribly. I do not like remembering these events, because they suggest that nothing, not even love, can save a mind that is bent on destroying itself. My religion tells me love saves--but it is not my love that has this power, but my God's. I have no proof  that this God exists--or, for that matter, that love exists. Or happiness, joy.

4. The medical profession tells us that its first rule is to do no harm. I work in a different field, but my boss told me the rule applies to what we do. I think it applies to everything we touch. It is also an impossible standard--one we hope to approximate in everyday life, but inevitably fall short of. What is the appropriate response to our failure? I find it depends on the person whose reaction I solicit, in the wake of such failure.

5. Not too long ago, I chose joy. Which means: I choose to live. Which also means: I choose to live with myself, no matter how inconvenient that might be, for other people, and (therefore) myself. I have chosen a life where I am directly responsible for others--my husband, my daughter--and I see them, and the place I occupy in the fabric of their lives. When things get confusing, when hate gets thrown my way, I look for their faces and remember that I need to be here, for the time being. And during this stay, learn how to become a better person.

6. Life, I've found, is infinitely forgiving and regenerative. Some imaginations, however, are not.

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