As silly as it may sound...

...I work very hard to collect pins I care about. I'm referring to Pinterest, of course. I've been on there for quite a while now (has it been years?), and have developed over the course of time an internal filter as to what I will and will not pin. If something interests or amuses me that doesn't quite fit the internal standard I've set for my boards, I may file it away among my "likes," but it will not join my carefully curated collection. (Unless, as recently with the Boromir/Samwise pic "One does not simply walk into Mordor"... unless I just can't help myself.)

So it's a little odd to me that in this last week, while I've been especially artful and moved by the images I've come across (and thusly pinned), that one pin of mine in particular seems to be getting an absurd degree of attention. Here are some of the pictures I've found in the last few days (please follow the links, as they are even more amazing when viewed in the context of their exhibitions):

These are incredible images. I do not hesitate to say so, because I had nothing to do with making them. Even so, would you, could you imagine just which of my many pins is the most popular?

It's this one:

Go figure.


The Artist

I was just thinking the other day how bored I am by today's celebrities, how they all seem to look the same, and how the few actors and actresses who actually do work worth caring about are just too few. This also says a lot about the movies that are out there, but there are legions of mediocre films because we watch them in spades. This is why a film like The Artist is such a breath of unbelievably fresh air, and yet it's just the sort of air that we must be told and told and told again to go breathe. If you have heard that you should see The Artist and yet have not, please do it. It is breathtaking, not just in beauty, but in whatever-it-is that makes a person sit taut in their seat with their fingers to their parted lips and their eyes wide and unblinking toward the motion picture. It's also lovely, and charming, and a number of other words that don't quite come close. I hope it wins all the awards that are awarded to films of any nature.

*Regarding the leads - For those who are wondering, "Why haven't I seen either of these actors in anything before?" it's because they are from other countries and do not act in your grand movies. Except once, Berenice Bejo was in A Knight's Tale, that most fascinating and fabulous work of cinematic oddness, as Shannyn Sossamon's maid. This should not be held against her. She rocked that role too.



A friend requested I pin some book suggestions earlier today, so I started a new Pinterest board for book recommendations. Generally I don't like to recommend a book unless I know you and know what sort of books you might like, but I've had more repins and likes on this board in the last hour than any other I've made pretty much ever. So here's the link if you care to check it out, though it's nothing new to anyone who knows me on Goodreads.


I am participating in a writer's workshop at my church in a few weeks. Last week I had to draft my submission, and it was not very easy. We had the option of non-fiction (which I don't really do) and fiction (which, with a 2000 word limit, is a bit difficult) as well as poetry. I chose poetry because it is easy in terms of word count and writing time, but I almost pulled a submission out from my archives (that's what I did last time), simply because I couldn't write anything. I haven't written much poetry in a while, and when I look back at what I used to write, I get discouraged. Not that the poetry isn't good to write, but there's a difference between poetry as an act of self-expression, discovery, or even meditation and the poetry that ought to be read by other people.

So I sat down with a little notebook and a Bible and a prayer book and another Bible, one with illustrations by Chagall (maybe you've seen it before), and a book of fairy tales by George MacDonald and the New and Collected Poems of Czeslaw Milosz, 1931-2001. I brought the latter because he always reminds me of the purpose of writing in the first place. I opened up to my favorite of his poems (if I have a favorite), and I read it, and I read it again, and then I wrote a response to it, which was really just a much poorer version of what he wrote, and I turned that in as my poetry submission.

This morning I am sitting with the same pile of books, and I have read the selections of the Bible that my prayer book lists for the morning of the Tuesday after the second Sunday after Epiphany, and I have written my thoughts about things in that little notebook. Then I open the Milosz book again and turn to a poem I have never read before, which is called "Report." It's on 589, and I will not transcribe it entirely because I very much respect his copyright.

But it is a poet presenting his report to the Most High who "willed to create me a poet," on being a poet and what that has meant or led to or whatever. It's very good, of course. Milosz didn't win the Nobel for nothing. He begins with gratitude and then moves to an observation of how very selfish he is, "self-deluded," as he calls it. Then this line: "How does it happen then that such low beginnings lead to the splendor of the word?" And still more, because the word is beautiful but it is not everything: "And our tender thought about all who lived, strived, and never succeeded in naming. / For to exist on the earth is beyond any power to name." Reading this, I am reminded to think tenderly of the world. More than reminded, I am drawn to tenderness. But somehow, he ends with tenderness toward the self, despite self-delusion, and maybe even because of it, for all I know. I am only reading this poem for the first time, after all, and I am slow to learn, or slow to remember all I have learned: "How then could I not be grateful, if early I was called and the incomprehensible contradiction has not diminished my wonder?" I am afraid my wonder has been diminished, just for a moment, and I am reminded that for me at least, writing anything at all has never been about polishing something for a reader, nor has it been merely self-expression. It's been an act of wonder. From the first.

I may share the poem I wrote last week, but not until I've workshopped it. And only if you remind me, because I'm very likely to forget. In the meantime, whether or not you were called to name things, I hope you, too, will be drawn to wonder for the world today.


Kindle thoughts

When I was a kid, I lived for three years on a small missions base in the southern Philippines. When I or one of my friends got a new book, it was a big deal. We ordered books from Scholastic, but when there are no bookstores and the school library hasn't been restocked in forty years, those Scholastic orders were pretty much the life and breath of our literary discoveries. I remember when Scholastic sent my friend Colleen a complimentary copy of Dealing With Dragons, and we thought "this is not our kind of book," but then we read it, sitting next to each other on her covered porch, and then we shared it one by one with all of our friends. We did that with The Ordinary Princess, by M. M. Kaye, and a number of others as well. A book was never just ours. It circulated.

Looking back, it occurs to me that that was the first book club I'd ever been a part of. We all read the same things, and then we incorporated them into our conversations, our classes, our play (we made a paper machĂȘ dragon in sixth grade and named it after Kazul from Dealing With Dragons). There are certain books I still feel compelled to do that with. When I finish an adult classic, my impulse is to tell people to go out and buy that book - because it's something they should own, something they should sit with. But when I read a good children's or teen novel, my impulse is to pass it on. I don't feel the need to keep my copy of The Hunger Games or The Graveyard Book all tidy on my shelf. I want to share it. To hand it over to someone and say, "You might enjoy this, and if you don't get around to it, you'll find someone else who will."

In the couple weeks I've owned a Kindle, I have realized that this one thing is missing. The ability to share. Lending doesn't count. None of the people I would loan my Kindle books to have the same digital device, if they have one at all. It wouldn't be such a bother, except that the books I wouldn't share, or the books I would expect back in good condition and relatively short order, are the books I'd want sitting on my shelf - not the ones I would download.

It is also interesting how differently people experience this medium. And I wonder, given that the medium is the message, what sort of message I'm acquiring here.



I know I've mentioned this before somewhere or other, but OmmWriter is rocking my socks in a zen sort of way. If you find yourself with some writer's block, try it out. You may not write what you need to (you may, in fact, find yourself writing some bad poetry, or expostulations on the nature of the sun slanting through the window), but you will at least write something.


A Nod to the Bookroom

Having alluded to the "other" blog, I suppose now is the time to mention that it actually has a home. Follow the link to read up on certain books I'm reading, hoping to read, etc. What you won't find there are my thoughts on non-fiction, essays, interior design, theology, or winter trips to Arkansas. Well... probably not, anyway. The best blogs often have themes, and I think it's about time I distilled my posts of a certain theme to a singular location. Here's to 2012.


One of the things I'm working on doing for 2012 is separating my book blogging from my "here's my life do what you will with it" blogging. I've toyed with doing this several times over the past few years, but this is the year. Being, of course, the year the calendar quits, I guess that means this is the year to live like there's no tomorrow?

I've been reading a lot of resolutions online, but few of them have that sense of urgency, that impulse to live like you mean to now, or else. Regardless of the Mayans and whatnot (fears in which I put little stock), it would be good to approach your resolutions with that kind of energy.

It is already the second day of the year, and I am still not sure of what I particularly resolve.

I resolve to be resolved?
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