Thursday, October 23, 2008


Cool Sixties TV Show Theme: Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
Strings, winds and xylophones shimmer amidst deep-sea radar pings, followed by a fanfare "call to adventure," then ominous low notes from the ocean depths. The strings take up the call to adventure, with a glissando counterpoint from the piano (or is it a harp?) Then we break for a commercial. To close, repeat above, then insert a standard orchestral flourish bringing us back to boring normality - except for a brief mysterious cadence - THEN a classic sixties fanfare to end.

I Have Too Much Stuff

And maybe this will help: Five classic clutter-busting strategies from Unclutterer.

Most of my stuff I never use. Clothes, books, papers, photos, kitchen equipment, vinyl records. I'm saving some of it because it contains my history. There's a set of books signed by authors that I won't give up. And I'm lazy. But lately I've felt this need to declutter and get rid of stuff, to almost "go minimal." Should I go all out and empty my closets, sell what others might want, and trash the rest? Do I toss old yearbooks into the garbage, and follow them with box after box of pictures?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Malcolm Gladwell May Have Saved My Sanity

Mr. Gladwell's fascinating article about prodigies vs. all the rest of us (Late Bloomers - Why do we equate genius with precocity? in the October 10 New Yorker) made me feel a whole lot better about myself as a writer - or whatever it is I am. I'm certainly NOT a prodigy, and I'm not yet sure if I'm a "late bloomer." My great grandfather was a late bloomer, as noted in a New Yorker "talk story" from 1939. I'm not 75... yet... so perhaps there's hope.

Excerpts from Mr. Gladwell's article that really hit home:

The freshness, exuberance, and energy of youth did little for Cézanne. He was a late bloomer—and for some reason in our accounting of genius and creativity we have forgotten to make sense of the Cézannes of the world.

...late bloomers bloom late because they simply aren’t much good until late in their careers.

On the road to great achievement, the late bloomer will resemble a failure: while the late bloomer is revising and despairing and changing course and slashing canvases to ribbons after months or years, what he or she produces will look like the kind of thing produced by the artist who will never bloom at all.

Prodigies are easy. They advertise their genius from the get-go. Late bloomers are hard. They require forbearance and blind faith.

Whenever we find a late bloomer, we can’t but wonder how many others like him or her we have thwarted because we prematurely judged their talents. But we also have to acccept that there’s nothing we can do about it. How can we ever know which of the failures will end up blooming?
Odd coincidence: Art News, in a quote I've ransacked my files looking for (and have not yet located), called O.A. Renne the American Cézanne.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

There's Nothing Like A Nice, Extended Mid-Life Crisis

"I had to find out where I went wrong. The years I've spent trying to get all the things I was told were important. That I was told to want. Things, not people or meaning, just things."
Rock Hudson, Seconds

I've been lying fallow for close to a year now, and I'm beginning to understand why. The popular term is "mid-life crisis" although I prefer the bland, non-melodramatic sounding "mid-life re-assessment." However, it's not bland to live through. I've been solidly parked in creative paralysis, spurred by the ongoing question "why bother continuing to write, when I still haven't made any money from it?" And there's been part of me, way down deep inside, that has .been reacting to this time in my life quite like the character Arthur Hamilton (played by Rock Hudson) reacts here, in the closing scenes from the ultra-disturbing Seconds. In the film, the 51-year- old Hamilton, a deeply bored businessman, is offered an extreme makeover - not only will he physically change, but "The Company" will set him up with a new life, kind of like the witness-protection program on steroids. Your death is faked, your psyche is probed so your dreams can be fulfilled, and you'll be happy.

Except it doesn't work for our hero. Here, Hamilton (now named "Wilson") has returned to The Company (Yup, that's Grandpa Walton, playing the founder) to get a new identity, after he failed to find self-actualization in Malibu. He's promised a chance to move onto the "next stage." But that promise comes with a horrifying price - and he tries everything in his power to avoid payment.