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Thursday, July 26, 2007

In the Middle of Things...

I haven't written much in the last week because I have been working on my work website. Also, I couldn't come up with a single thing to say about "Writers on Writing, volume 2." I read the essays with great interest, but they continued to strike me as too fancy; that is to say, a bit on the inflated side. (I had the same reaction to volume 1). I suppose that those writers can say more about it because after all they are published authors. I think the essay about 9/11 and what that event did to the process of imagination and creativity was the best of the bunch. The main idea is that creativity came to a halt after that day because writing fiction might have seemed like a leisure when so much needed to be done. I think everyone pretty much felt this way.

I got trapped between two books and did not make head way on either one until I decided on just one of them. I started out with Pankaj Mishra's "An End to Suffering: The Buddha in the World," and with Buzz Williams' "Spare Parts." I decided on Mishra's and it has paid great dividends. It is, without doubt, the most insightful historical perspective about the Buddha written up to date. Despite the fact that Mishra is a very young writer, he blends his travels around the world with historical perspectives of the Buddha, the political and racial history of India, and a gamut of other perspectives that even include Nietzsche and nihilism. Mishra is the author of a little known novel entitled "The Romantics." I had read a review about it once and it caught my eye, but it wasn't until some years later that I got a first print copy of it at a discount rack and it turned out to be one of the greatest books I've ever read. In the Buddha book, he writes about an experience with an American Buddhist named Helen, which turns out to be particularly close to that of the relationships depicted in "The Romantics." So pick up Mishra if you get a chance.

My friends from Holland are in town visiting. Ilse and Eugene are just as lovely people as they were 14 years ago when we first met in college. My trip to Holland in 2001 was one of the greatest holidays I've ever had. Here's a picture of last night's banquet by Eugene, our chef:

I have decided to abandon my efforts to write about my experience in Al Khafji. It seems to me that after the years the unhealthy obsession I've had with my memories is not worth the time and the ink. Also, a passage by Joseph Conrad reminded me:

"Why I longed to go grubbing into deplorable details of an occurrence which, after all, concerned me no more that as a member of an obscure body of men held together by a community of inglorious toil and by fidelity to a certain standard of conduct I can't explain. You may call it an unhealthy curiosity if you like; but I had a distinct notion I wished to find something." -- Joseph Conrad.

I am not quite sure yet of what to read next. I definitely have many choices to pick from. I am leaning heavily towards the Didion collection, but I haven't made up my mind yet.

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At 9:53 AM, Blogger Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...

Quite a feast. I'm sure whatever you choose to read will be just right but you need to follow your instincts. If it doesn't turn out to be the right time to read a certain thing then it just isn't (this is my new philosophy).


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