All the articles of this special issue of the New York Review is available online.
Regular readers of my weblogs will notice that I’ve not been blogging very actively lately. I’ve put a lot more of my online writing energy into writing on my wiki(s). Although I find writing on my wiki particularly satisfying, I know that my readers will find my wiki writing difficult to follow. I will try to correct some of those deficiencies without destroying what I do love about my wikis — the somewhat random, drop-stuff-in-first-and-explain-later, part of wikis that has me excited about wikis. Nonetheless, I will see what I can do with the FrontPage and SiteNavigation (among other things) to help people who just drop into my wiki.
I’ve been trying to figuring out a flow of writing that can naturally involve both my wikis and my blogs. One idea that I’ve had is to review the RecentChanges in my wikis and narrate what I had just written about. Such a process can be useful for both me (as a writer of these items) and for my readers. Yet, if I don’t really “add much value” in my narration, the reader is better off just reading RecentChanges for himself, especially if I had been diligent in commenting on what I writing on my wiki entries in the first place.
I certainly have enjoyed being just fire up TodaysNotes and start writing a few thoughts — and then expand (or contract), elaborate the narrative throughout the day. Those who are used to wikis will understand that a wiki is always open-ended, tentative — and that frees me as a writer to write accordingly. The downside, however, is that I often don’t write with as much depth or care on my wiki as I do on my blogs. When I post an entry on my weblogs, I generally consider doing so an act of publishing. Save for minor stylistic or grammatical touch-ups, I don’t make any changes to the text. I might consider deleting the whole entry and noting that I’m withdrawing my post — but I wouldn’t just alter the post substantially.
On Thursday night, as the first event of the new Strictly Speaking series at Cal Performances, Al Franken spoke to what seemed to be a full house at Zellerbach Hall. Much of it was enjoyable — and a lot of people were laughing jovially as he took apart George Bush, Rush Limbaugh, and especially Bill O’Reilly. Nonetheless, I didn’t find a lot of it that funny after a while. It felt a bit too much like preaching to the choir. Most of my friends and I spend enough time making fun of George Bush or lamenting his self-serving policies that do little to fend for the poor (I’m hardpressed to see how the President, a born-again Christian, is doing much to help the “least among us” with tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefit the upper crust. That’s been my gut reaction, one I’d like to explore more deeply with some study.).
And Bill O’Reilly — is really that important a target to lavish such sustained satire? Maybe he is because so many people listen to him and therefore his lies need to be dismantled. But at the end of the day, will enough hearts and minds throughout the country and not just the cultural island that is the Bay Area, be won over to defeat the current administration? How can get out of our social-political ghetto?
Having said that, I must admit that (The article about the reading in today’s SF Chronicle helped put things in perspective, making me somewhat more understanding and sympathetic to the audience:
For the longest time, as right-wing pundits mercilessly mocked lefties and Ann Coulter demonized liberals as “traitors,” it seemed that a cowed left had lost its voice and its spirit. Michael Moore ranted, Gore Vidal issued a pair of scathing anti-Bush pamphlets, but it wasn’t until Al Franken came along that the left regained some of the breath that got knocked out of it by the Florida election of 2000.
Al Franken, political lightning rod? The dude from “Saturday Night Live” with the funny voice and the goofy grin? Seems odd at first, until one considers the healing balm of laughter. Who wants to listen to a whining lament, after all, when the same points can be made, in Franken’s case, with raucous humor?
I’m also pleased that the article caught what Franken said during what I considered the most moving moment of the evening, an invocation of the heart and labor of Paul Wellstone:
Paul Wellstone always said, “It’s not enough just to believe in something: You have to work, and the future belongs to the people who are passionate and do the work.”
The sermon was about being in exile, and being a chosen people. The former condition is one I’m very familiar with; as for being “chosen,” I dunno… something about that notion feels disharmonious to me with actual reality and history. But I’m just an ant on the almost infinite scale of the universe, so what do I really know of the whole picture?
I’m still not sure what I heard, or what really happened, but am now beginning to have a vaguely troubling attack of the guilts.
The rhetoric of exile has certainly been strongly sounded deeply at FPCB and also “chosen people” — but not in any sense of “oh, how special and privileged we are” but more “how much we have to live up to given how much God has given us in His love and mercy”.
I walked away wanting to ponder the text of the sermon at greater length (1 Peter 2:1-10) for applications to my own life. I’ve not been terribly successful at deeply integrating what I’ve been learning at church with the rest of my life. Maybe I’ll do better this week.
Because I’m planning to see some of the 30 or so films of Yasujiro Ozu that the PacificFilmArchives will be showing in November and December, I decided to see at least one ahead of time to judge how excited to get by the upcoming retrospective (this year is the centenary of Ozu’s birth).
Last night, I rented and started to watch what many consider Ozu’s greatest film, Tokyo Story. I found it really slow-going and, in fact, fell asleep in the middle of the film. I didn’t take that as a negative sign of Ozu’s artistry (but more of my fatigue). I watched the rest of Tokyo Story this afternoon and found the film a very satisfying experience. Maybe I’m struggling very much with how I as an adult son thousands of miles away from my parents am or am living as a good son — but the movie speaks right to the heart of my family situation.
I’ve been doing a lot of writing on my wiki over the last week but not much on my personal weblog. I would like to shift the balance back to incorporate more blogging. Writing on my wiki this week has been a freeing and very productive experience. The way that I’ve been blogging has been a tad more rigorous than what I was able to comfortably sustain over a longer stretch of time. But I miss writing blog entries too. On MyMainPublicWiki, I feel free to brainstorm, to dash off lists, to drop in phrases without providing sufficient context for folks to understand the pieces as stand-alone items. In contrast, on my this personal weblog, I want my readers to understand more of the context — and hence I’ve striven to be reasonably coherent in my blog entries. (Whether I’ve succeeded is another matter.)
At any rate, I want some more rigor in my writing as a whole and getting myself back into regular blogging should help.
I’m considering the following workshop:
Norman Mealy Hymn Workshop
Good Taste, Bad Taste, and Christian Taste: the Makings of Christian Music
Frank Burch Brown, Professor of Religion and the Arts at Christian Theological
Seminary, Indianapolis, will challenge us to explore different style of music
for worship at the Norman Mealy Hymn Workshop on Saturday, November 8 (9 to
12:30) at St. Mark’s Church.
Registration fee: $12 ($8 student/senior) or 4 for $44. Lunch (by reservation):
$8. Checks payable to St.Mark’s Mealy Memorial can be sent to St.Mark’s Church,
2300 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94704.
I’ve not blogged the last couple of days, not because I’m terribly sad (which was the case several weeks ago) but because I’ve been pondering and running and dancing around and singing. Sometimes it’s only been in my own mind; at other moments, when my guard is down, the stuff leaks out. I’m learning to be less embarrassed about. “Excuse me,” I say. “I didn’t mean to emote all over you.” Then I move on.
I have some excellent teachers around me to free me. May I be a good student.
Oh, the crypticity
A six year old girl is teaching me about telling stories.
Raymond, given the apparent dearth of children’s books about the North American Chinese experience, you may have found a creative outlet for yourself. And maybe Laura would illustrate it! But don’t miss Grace Lin’s other book, The Ugly Vegetables, whose title captivated me at the library once. Although the protagonist is a girl, so what?
What a great idea! I’ve not yet seen The Ugly Vegetables. I’m really enjoying Grace Lin’s books myself — and the two little girls who live in my household love them too. You’re right — there’s nothing wrong with the fact that the protagonist is a girl — that’s certainly great. A topic for another time — but I feel that Asian males are tad under/mis-represented in our culture — and hence, I’d love to supplement the books I found so far with ones that feature boys.