Guardian Spirits, Emily Dickinson's Envelope Poems, Samizdat, and More
Seven links to worthwhile thin(g/k)s
Hello dear reader,
Here are seven links to bits of the world I have been exploring this week, shared with the hope that you will find them to be an inspiring springboard for deeper thinking.
Envelope Poems: Emily Dickinson wrote her manuscripts on scraps of envelopes, and I’ve been intrigued by this edition of all 52 of her envelope writings displayed in full color front and back. It gets us a tad closer to her writing process, and it makes me think of French writers and their musings documented on cafe napkins.
Guardian Spirits: I recently started morning pages, which is a commitment to write three pages every morning, no excuses, in a stream of consciousness, free flow fashion. It clears out the clutter in one’s head and spearheads creativity. It’s also wonderfully reflective tune-up of one’s inner life, especially since we often tend to gloss over life without taking the time to assess events and our reactions. I suspect the three-page marker will mean I’ll have to go through multiple notebooks. To make the process fun and to ground it further in meaning, I took a page from Austin Kleon’s quirky habit and have decided to assign a ‘guardian spirit’ to watch over things. All in the name of fun and symbolism. My first notebook of the year for morning pages (I use a Leuchtturm1917: squared, pocket, red) has gone a little more than a week without a guardian spirit — any recommendations are much appreciated :)
Book: I am reading on Audible The Second Machine Age by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee. Just as steam engine during the Industrial Revolution provided us with muscle power to usher us into the first machine age, computers and other digital advances during our age provide us with the mental power to situate us into what the authors call the second machine age. We journey with the writers through three arguments: (a) digital developments are inflection points in the right direction; (b) technology has the potential to create bounty (instead of scarcity) and freedom (instead of constraint) because digitization increases our intellectual consumption and improves our physical world; and (c) digitization creates thorny challenges (what economists term as spread, which are the differences among people in wealth, income, mobility) that are not insurmountable.
Scott Galloway: I have been incredibly perplexed by how the markets have been operating this past year. One year of a pandemic, and the markets boom. One day of anarchy in the United States, and the markets boom. The unemployment rate rose today, and the markets boom. Confusion aside, this behavior begs the question, how much power and value and currency have we placed in powerhouses such as big tech? Scott Galloway had an interesting take on this:
“If there is any question that big tech is our new government, then register that these are the only entities whose actions seem to have a meaningful impact (or what we view as meaningful). Which has had more impact? Futile discussions about the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, or Facebook and Twitter suspending President Trump’s accounts and Shopify closing MAGA stores? Applaud these actions if you like, but accountability for sedition should not be meted out by private companies (in the case of Shopify, a foreign one). We should not be pandering to part-time CEOs to save the nation they demonstrate no regard for.”
Samizdat: A Massachusetts school recently banned The Odyssey and other books from classic literature using the slogan #DisruptTexts as “critical-theory ideologues, schoolteachers and Twitter agitators are purging and propagandizing against classic texts” because, among other things, they think “[a]bsolving Shakespeare of responsibility by mentioning that he lived at a time when hate-ridden sentiments prevailed, risks sending a subliminal message that academic excellence outweighs hateful rhetoric.” My two cents: Don’t let people ever tell you what not to read.
Sing with rapture and dance like a dervish and be deliriously happy: Films and TV shows have helped ground me in this weird pandemic season. I have been swooning over this scene of Anthony Hopkins in Meet Joe Black.
Adrienne Rich: In her collection of prose published in On Lies, Secrets, and Silence, Adrienne Rich reveals the beauty of ‘an honorable human relationship’ when she explains:
“An honorable human relationship — that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word “love” — is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.
It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation.
It is important to do this because in doing so we do justice to our own complexity.
It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.”
Bon voyage into the weekend, my lovelies!
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With love / s lyubovyu (Russian) / sirov (Armenian),
Hello Ani, I am a recent subscriber of your newsletter and I am enjoying it very much! Just wanted to tell you that I have also started Morning Pages, since I am doing a year-long Artist's Way, and I liked your idea of having a guardian spirit watch over the progress. Keep sending these beautiful titbits of information, I am looking forward to them! :) Much love from another girl writer, Ajita.