American poet, essayist, and journalist
Synopsis Composers can be quite superstitious about numbers. Gustav Mahler, for example, was reluctant to assign the number “9” to his song cycle symphony, “Das Lied von der Erde,” fearing it would turn out to be his last: after all, Beethoven and Bruckner had only completed nine symphonies. Ironically, Mahler DID go on to complete a ninth, but died before he could finish work on his tenth. Most American composers have avoided this problem by rarely if ever producing more than one or two symphonies of their own. Naturally there are exceptions. On today's date in 1963, the Ninth Symphony of the American composer Roy Harris was given its premiere by the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy, who had commissioned it. Like many other symphonies by Harris, his Ninth has a patriotic program, with each movement having a subtitle from either the American Constitution or Walt Whitman's “Leaves of Grass.” Harris went on to write thirteen Symphonies in all – although, perhaps submitting to a bit of numerological superstition himself – when his symphony No. 13, a Bicentennial Commission, was first performed in Washington, D.C. in 1976, it was billed as his Symphony Number Fourteen! Music Played in Today's Program Gustav Mahler (1860 - 1911) — Symphony No. 9 (New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein, cond.) Sony 60597 Roy Harris (1898 - 1979) — Symphony No. 9 (Albany Symphony; David Alan Miller, cond.) Albany 350
Do yourself a favor and listen to this podcast to get the most out of the relationships God places in your path. You'll be inspired to see the joy in them in new and refreshing ways. When I started this podcast in late 2018 there were about 500,000 podcasts. Today there are over 2 million. It raises the question, with all of these podcasts available to listeners like you, why listen to THIS one? Back in 2018 I answered this question in the very first episode, number 001“Six Reasons to Listen to You Were Made for This.” But now, 138 episodes and six seasons later, it's time to revisit this question. What's in it for you, the listener, to listen to THIS podcast, when you have so many other choices of how to spend your time? Our basic premise The basic premise of this podcast hasn't changed, but during the past three years, I've seen more than ever the importance of relationships in our daily lives. They can bring us great joy. Or they can bring us great heartache - and everything in-between. Relationships are like molecules of oxygen, because relationships are everywhere, even when we're not thinking about them. We can't escape them if we're living human beings. We have relationships with people, obviously. But we also have a relationship, with organizations, with our circumstances, with time and places, with God, and even a relationship with our self. Listen to this podcast to help make these relationships the best they can be. The very first relationship ever Relationships started with God, and the three persons of the trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This was the very first relationship. Since we are made in the image of God, good relationships reflect His character. To experience the life-giving relationships God intends for us, this podcast draws from what God says in the Bible about all manner of relationships. This podcast targets people of faith because what God says about relationships is foundational to living the most fulfilling life possible. If you're not a person of faith, that's fine. Our goal is not to turn you into one. Godly principles of relationships work for both the believer and non-believer. When you listen to this podcast you'll learn how to apply biblical principles to your relationships. For example, Episode 51, “More Than the Music” is about the relationship principles the Apostle Paul explains in Romans 12. It's about how we are to relate to God, to others, and to ourselves. He explains how our relationships are a form of worship. I'll have a link to this episode, and others I mention today, at the bottom of the show notes for you to check out later. It and the others will give you a taste of what You Were Made for This is all about. We help you to make your relationships the best they can be You may have come across this idea several times before, “we were made for relationships.” Yet how many of us were taught how to actually do what we were made for? For many of us when it comes to relationships, we don't know what we don't know about them. But if you listen to this podcast you'll learn. For most relationship skills are learned. So we talk a bunch about developing relationship skills. Most of us already have some relational skills, we just need to get better at it. And as with any skill; it takes practice. When you listen to this podcast, we show you what to practice and how to practice. For example, episodes 011 - 014 are about the four levels of relationship skills, with examples of how you can move from level 1 up to level 4. And there's one of our favorite topics and recurring themes. Listening. It comes up in many episodes because it's such an important factor in nurturing life-giving relationships. Episode 112, “Three Ways to Listen Well in 2021,” is just one example devoted to all this important relational topic Our podcast format The format we follow in this podcast is all about what is best for you. We respect your time, and except for the occasional interview, most episodes are 10-15 minutes long. When you listen to this podcast you won't find any time fillers, nervous giggling, or inside jokes you find in some podcasts. We stress the practical in each episode. Number 095 is an example, “What to Do When People Irritate Us.” Another thing to note about our podcast is that we love relationship stories. We use lots of them to show how to have good relationships. We do very little telling. Lots of showing what good relationships look like. Lots of stories that illustrate the relational intelligence we're working to develop in each of us. Many of these stories come from the Bible. And many of them come from my own experience. Like the time I unknowingly frightened a 20-something tattooed, pink-haired woman in tattered blue jeans, with a ring in her nose and another in her navel. I shared in an episode an important relationship lesson I learned from that encounter. Easily searchable content Our website, johncertalic.com makes it easy to find relationship topics that interest you. Each episode is found in one of six searchable categories: Relationship Principles Relational Skills Finding Joy in Relationships God in Our Relationships Family Relationships Becoming a Better Listener You can also search by tags or keywords. For example, searching on the word “humility” brings up 4 podcast episodes, 1 blog post, and 1 reference to my book, THEM - The Richer Life Found in Caring for Others. “Bakery” brings up nothing. Nothing about bakery; sorry. If you prefer to read rather than listen, each episode has show notes you can read, though I highly recommend listening because I sometimes will spontaneously add things not in the notes. Another thing about our format is that we offer practical relationship tools you most likely will not have heard about elsewhere. For example, I have an episode about the myth of “it never hurts to ask.” Then there's how to prevent relational conflicts before they happen. One of my favorite topics is about the only two questions you ever need to remember to get into a satisfying conversation with someone. Each episode is about one specific relational concept or skill. Each one is a lot about one thing, not a lot about many things. Every one suggests an actionable response you can take to improve your relationships. It's not about theory. It's about practical tools and actions you can take. Today. Now. Conclusion Finally, a major reason to listen to this podcast is to discover the joy found in relationships. Besides the topic of listening, discovering the joy of relationships is a thread found throughout many episodes. We come back to this topic again and again. Episode 041, “Thankful for the Cheerleaders in My Life” is one example. The main point of today's episode When you listen to this podcast it will enrich your life by showing you how to experience the joy God intends for you in your relationships. You'll experience the joy of relationships as you grow in blessing others, which in turn, will bless you. Closing I hope your thinking was stimulated by today's show, to both reflect and to act, by making it a point to listen to this podcast on a regular basis so you can move the needle forward in making your relationships the best they can be. You can do this, you really can, because You Were Made for This. In the days ahead, we have a lot coming up that will make this wonderful quote from Walt Whitman a warm reality for you: We were together, I forgot the rest. Let that sink in for a moment. We were together, I forgot the rest. Well, that's all for today. I look forward to connecting with you again next week. Goodbye for now. Episodes mentioned above 051 More Than the Music 011 Relationship Skills - Level 1 112 Three Ways to Listen Well in 2021 095 What to Do When People Irritate Us 041 Thankful for the Cheerleaders in My Life Our Sponsor You Were Made for This is sponsored by Caring for Others, a missionary care ministry. We depend upon the generosity of people like you to pay our bills. If you'd like to support what we do with a secure tax-deductible donation, please click here. We'd be so grateful if you did.
¡Comienza el especial de Navidad! A SIN CAFÉ COMO EXCUSA han venido Ana Hernández, Lila Horovitz y Marika Pérez creadoras de El viaje de Alana, una función en el Teatro Infanta Isabel de MAdrid. ENTRE EL FOSO Y EL TELÓN vamos al Teatro Pavón Kamikaze para ver The Christmas Soul y en DRAMEDIA recomendamos Cuento de Navidad en el Nuevo Teatro Alcalá, La vuelta al mundo de cometa en el Circo Price y ¿Quién puede robar la luna? en la Sala Nueve Norte. Entramos en EL CAMERINO del Teatro Lara para ver Los remedios y LA APUNTADORA nos dará también su opinión sobre ese montaje. En EL COMODÍN DE LA CLAQUETA analizamos lo mejor del cine de 2021 y en VERSO A VERSO repasamos la vida y obra de Walt Whitman y Julia de Burgos a través del Canto a mi mismo/a. En ARTECTURA viajamos para conocer el calendario de adviento más grande del mundo y en LA DESPENSA DEL TIEMPO desgranamos Sofía Troubetzkoy de Winterhalter Cerramos en VERSIONANDO QUE ES GERUNDIO con el villancico Green sleaves. ¡TE ESPERAMOS!
Lawrence Ferlinghetti (Nueva York, 1919- San Francisco,2021) Fue a comienzos de los 80 del siglo pasado cuando la estupenda editorial Hiperion publicó en España, por primera vez, un poemario de sugerente título (Un Coney Island de la mente), obra de un autor de apellido italiano, casi desconocido entre nosotros: Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Desde entonces, su nombre y el de sus compañeros de generación (el poeta Ginsberg, los novelistas Kerouac y Burroughs, el poeta y narrador Bukowski, entre otros), rompieron el círculo de los enterados para incorporarse al imaginario de la Literatura en el ámbito hispánico. La obra de la que hablamos había aparecido, no obstante, en 1958, en los EEUU, y fue la carta de presentación de un poeta, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, cuya trayectoria va a dilatarse hasta los primeros años ya de nuestro siglo. Ciertamente, se trata de un libro que no precisa más que de ser leído…o escuchado. Porque un primer rasgo que lo caracteriza es el de su oralidad: se trata de poemas de aliento coral escritos con el lenguaje del hombre medio norteamericano, con clara voluntad democrática, por tanto. Un código perfecto para expresar y denunciar la enajenación personal y colectiva a que somete implacablemente el sistema ultracapitalista. Oralidad, voluntad democrática, protesta ante un mundo deshumanizado…Ferlinghetti acude a las raíces de la gran poesía norteamericana: Walt Whitman. Y, en su estela, el coloquialismo de su verso nunca cae en lo soez, ni se envilece, como si defendiera una dignidad irrenunciable. Una voz la suya que influirá de modo decisivo en el nacimiento del frente contestatario, pacifista y espiritualista, de los años 60 en los EEUU, y que acabará extendiéndose a todo el occidente a través, principalmente, de la canción. -Fernando Alcaine- CRÉDITOS: (título/música/voz) • Presentación (Fernando Alcaine) / Eddie Higgins (Christmas Songs-1) / Manuel Alcaine • A veces, durante la eternidad / Wynton Marsalis (Blue Christmas-1) / Néstor Barreto • Cristo se bajó / Wynton Marsalis (Blue Chrismas-2) / Lola Orti • El mundo es un hermoso lugar / Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie (Bloomdido ) / Mingo España • En las mejores escenas de Goya / Dizzy Gillespie & Arturo Sandoval (Wheatleigh Hall) / Mª José Sampietro • Calle larga / Eddie Higgins (Christmas Songs-2) y Bob Dylan (The Christmas blues) / Elena Parra
Today on the mentorship quest, we have a quote coming at you from American poet, essayist, and humanistic thinker, Walt Whitman. He says, “Re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul.” In this episode we're going to examine the power of examining your beliefs.
Heralded as "The Walt Whitman of American Television," Charles Kuralt while sharing a drink with a cameraman aboard a 1967 flight high above Ohio sparked upon an idea. "By God," he said. "Next time we go somewhere, we ought to drive and find out what's really going on in this country!" For nearly three decades he would do just that, inviting viewers to follow him "On the Road" as he showcased the extraordinary stories of everyday Americans. In tribute to this fine storyteller whose legacy helped inspire Vanishing Postcards, host Evan Stern is honored to perform a reading of an essay in which Kuralt shifted his gaze inward to share his memory of a Christmas before "worldliness and wisdom set in." Featuring the exquisite musical backing of pianist and arranger Kathleen Landis, it is our hope that this piece might provide an opportunity to pause and revisit a few Christmas memories of your own. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/evan-stern1/message
Cultivating Inner Peace an interview with Paul R. Fleischman. Paul Fleischman, psychiatrist, author and long-time meditator, writes about the psychology, wisdom and poetry of those who have inspired him in his personal quest for harmony and happiness. The learnable qualities of peaceful living are brought into focus by examining the lives of diverse exemplars such as Mahatma Gandhi, Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau, the Buddha, John Muir, Scott and Helen Nearing, and Rabindranath Tagore. His ultimate example is an autobiographical account of his own experience with his practice of Vipassana. The final chapter of the book is a compelling appeal to all people to walk the path of peace as a way of healing the earth itself. This new paperback edition includes a new introduction and a foreword by Professor William Radice, noted Tagore scholar and poet. Paul R. Fleischman 2021 2 hours 02 minutes Listen to Streaming Audio Video copyright, 2021 Pariyatti 'Cultivating Inner Peace' as a book, eBook and audiobook can be found here. More by Paul R. Fleischman. View more books and audio resources available in the Pariyatti bookstore.
Of and in all these things, I have dream'd that we are not to be changed so much, nor the law of us changed, I have dream'd that heroes and good-doers shall be under the present and past law, And that murderers, drunkards, liars, shall be under the present and past law, For I have dream'd that the law they are under now is enough. If otherwise, all came but to ashes of dung, If maggots and rats ended us, then Alarum! for we are betray'd! Then indeed suspicion of death. Do you suspect death? If I were to suspect death, I should die now, Do you think I could walk pleasantly and well-suited toward annihilation? 10 Pleasantly and well-suited I walk, Whither I walk I cannot define, but I know it is good, The whole universe indicates that it is good, The past and the present indicate that it is good. How beautiful and perfect are the animals! How perfect the earth, and the minutest thing upon it! What is called good is perfect, and what is called bad is just as perfect, The vegetables and minerals are all perfect, and the imponderable fluids are perfect; Slowly and surely they have pass'd on to this, and slowly and surely they yet pass on. 11 I swear I think now that everything without exception has an eternal Soul! The trees have, rooted in the ground! the weeds of the sea have! the animals! I swear I think there is nothing but immortality! That the exquisite scheme is for it, and the nebulous float is for it, and the cohering is for it; And all preparation is for it! and identity is for it! and life and materials are altogether for it!
Walt Whitman mused that it is the trees which “know the amplitude of time.” At the end of this month when our congregations reflect on what it means to hold history, we'll follow the old growth trees into deeper time than our own short lives, paying homage to what Ursula K. Le Guin has called the “tall fraternal fire of life as strong now as in the seedling two centuries ago.”
I'm Christy Shriver and we're here to discuss books that have changed the world and have changed us. And I am Garry Shriver. This is the How to Love Lit Podcast. This is our second episode discussing the bard of democracy, the great Walt Whitman. Today we will feature one of his four poems honoring President Abraham Lincoln, but in order to understand why Whitman and many of us admire this great man, we want to revisit the original 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass and listen to some of Whitman's observations of African Americans and slavery. Christy, let's start this episode by reading and discussing two extracts from “I sing the Body Electric” , the ones where Whitman describes an African man and then an African woman at auction. A man's body at auction, (For before the war I often go to the slave-mart and watch the sale,) I help the auctioneer, the sloven does not half know his business. Gentlemen look on this wonder, Whatever the bids of the bidders they cannot be high enough for it, For it the globe lay preparing quintillions of years without one animal or plant, For it the revolving cycles truly and steadily roll'd. In this head the all-baffling brain, In it and below it the makings of heroes. Examine these limbs, red, black, or white, they are cunning in tendon and nerve, They shall be stript that you may see them. Exquisite senses, life-lit eyes, pluck, volition, Flakes of breast-muscle, pliant backbone and neck, flesh not flabby, good-sized arms and legs, And wonders within there yet. Within there runs blood, The same old blood! the same red-running blood! There swells and jets a heart, there all passions, desires, reachings, aspirations, (Do you think they are not there because they are not express'd in parlors and lecture-rooms?) This is not only one man, this the father of those who shall be fathers in their turns, In him the start of populous states and rich republics, Of him countless immortal lives with countless embodiments and enjoyments. How do you know who shall come from the offspring of his offspring through the centuries? (Who might you find you have come from yourself, if you could trace back through the centuries?) 8 A woman's body at auction, She too is not only herself, she is the teeming mother of mothers, She is the bearer of them that shall grow and be mates to the mothers. Have you ever loved the body of a woman? Have you ever loved the body of a man? Do you not see that these are exactly the same to all in all nations and times all over the earth? If any thing is sacred the human body is sacred, And the glory and sweet of a man is the token of manhood untainted, And in man or woman a clean, strong, firm-fibred body, is more beautiful than the most beautiful face. Have you seen the fool that corrupted his own live body? or the fool that corrupted her own live body? For they do not conceal themselves, and cannot conceal themselves. Whitman was raised a New York democrat, but his sympathies were with the Free Soil party that condemned the extension of slavery as a sin against God and a crime against man. The Republican party would not exist until 1854, and Lincoln would be their presidential candidate in the election of 1860. Of course, bear in mind, that the issues of those days are different than the issues of today, so the party names shouldn't be taken to represent modern day politics. For Whitman it was undeniable for anyone with eyeballs that all men are born human and that implies certain things regardless if they are born free or slave- of any race, creed or gender. It is obvious to a man so aware of the physical body, that we are of the same atom- the magnificence of the body proclaims our humanity- and ironically where on earth could this magnificence be most easily seen than at a slave auction like what he witnessed during his New Orleans days. In all of its ruthless degradation it ironically showcased the magnificence of the human body. It's why Whitman could say, almost sarcastically- I am a better salesman of slaves than the auctioneer-I know and understand the beauty and value of what you are selling and you don't- you fool. Whitman was the poet of the democratic soul- we are after all leaves of grass, but he was also the poet of the body- that physical form we are all chained to. For Whitman, to be a human was to understand and be okay with one's physical body- and it is a holy thing. Our souls inhabit a sanctified space on earth- that of the body- be it man or woman- the pigmentation of flesh was just one of many individual and unique features- for Whitman our bodies is the starting point for equality- we are all wedded to one. It doesn't seem radical to us now, but at that time in history- even talking about the body like that was revolutionary- almost vulgar- Whitman democratically equates the man with the woman with the black with the white. In 1855, this was not self-evident anywhere else in the United States of America or really anywhere on planet earth. By 1855, Walt Whitman knew his country was falling apart. He understood that the ideals on which the great American experiment were founded were being overwhelmed by all kinds of forces, not least of which was plain ordinary corruption. In his mind, what the world needed was repentance- a total course correction- a return to the original ideals and this was going to happen through conversion to a different set of moral ideals- he wanted to convince America to revisit and embrace all these original self-evident democratic ideals by reading and absorbing Leaves of Grass. He really truly believed if people would just read his book, they would stop hating each other. Well, it's a nice thought, however slightly unrealistic…especially in light of the single digit sales of that first edition. But even if he had gotten everyone to read his book, it was a tall order. By 1860, any kind of peaceful coming together seemed unrealistic. America was on the brink of war and violence was springing up. John Brown is one notable example; in an attempt to free slaves through violence he and a small gang stormed Harper's Ferry. They were captured, tried and condemned to death, but this event inflamed the country and raised the stakes for the upcoming presidential election. A few months after Brown was executed, the democratic party, split between pro and- anti- slavery factions, was to confront a new political party- one that had never existed before, the Republican party. It had nominated a Southern born anti-slavery man from Illinois, a lawyer who had never attended school but who was known as honest Abe. A newspaper in South Carolina put it this way “the irrepressible conflict is about to be vised upon us through the Black Republican nominee and his fanatical diabolical Republican party.” Walt Whitman did not see Lincoln as an instigator of a conflict. Whitman saw him almost as an extension of himself- a mediator. He really believed Lincoln was going to bring healing and unity through politics something he had tried and failed to do through poetry. I'm not sure which is the greater challenge= trying to unify a group of people through poetry or politics!! Ha! True but Whitman was paying attention to what Lincoln was saying and he identified with him. He saw himself in Lincoln. They both came from poor families. Neither had formal education. One thing that is interesting, Lincoln was from the West, and Whitman believed the hope of America was in the West. Both men believed in democracy to the core, but also- both believed in unity. Whitman saw Lincoln as America's hope. Although, he was likely the most hated man of his age in some corners, but the only hope of America in others. Lincoln wanted first and foremost to be a unifier. He had been elected with only around 40% of the popular vote, although he did get a majority of the electoral college votes. There was no question America was deeply divided. He wanted not just to save the physical boundaries of America, but he wanted to heal the wounds that were making people hate each other. Lincoln's father was anti-slavery and raised in an anti-slavery Baptist congregation. Lincoln But his mother was from a Kentucky slaveholding family. Lincoln later recalled that the reason his father left Kentucky and the South because of his strong feelings about slavery. Lincoln himself saw many cruel things while visiting his grandparents, not the least of these being once when an African-American family was separated on a boat and sold to different owners. He later recalled that ‘the sight was a continual torment to me…having the power of making me miserable.” However, Lincoln's mother's family were people he knew intimately, and somehow he understood how someone could support slavery and not be an evil person. This sounds crazy to us and difficult to understand, but Lincoln expressed on more than one occasion to men across the North that if they had been born in those circumstances in that place and in that world, they likely would have had those same views. This way of seeing one's fellow man is more radical than most of us can even comprehend. It's a strange idea to assert that a person could believe something is morally wrong so strongly that he would be willing to lead a nation to war to end it, but simultaneously judge the perpetrators of this evil redeemable human beings. 95% of humans today can't think like that- Well, it's something Whitman could do as well. Whitman didn't fight in the Civil War, but his brother George did. His brother fought for the Union. Whitman's significant other fought for the Confederacy at one point. The first shots of the Civil War were fired by the South on Fort Sumter in Charleston, SC, in April of 1861. Lincoln had been president for just a few weeks. In December of 1862, Whitman saw his brother's name on a list of casualities. He got on a train and headed South to look for him. He ended up in Fredericksburg. The good news was his brother had only suffered a flesh wound. But outside the hospital Whitman saw something that struck horror and terror into his being. Let me read his words after he came to the building being used as a hospital, he saw, “a heap of amputated feet, legs, arms, hands, etc….a full load for a one-horse cart…human fragments, cut bloody, black and blue, swelled and sickening…nearby were several dead bodes each covered with its brown woolen blanket.” Now you have to remember, think about Leaves of Grass and “I sing the Body Electric”. This is a man who had been trying to convince America to celebrate our bodies- all of our bodies- we read just the excert about African-Americans, but he celebrated all bodies and wanted us to see ourselves in other people's bodies- to recognize the sanctity in all bodies- and here he's staring at these body parts scattered around, cut off and thrown into piles. I can't even imagine how things would smell. Whitman's reaction to what he saw on the battlefields and field hospitals of Frederickburg, led him to a decision that altered the course of his life. It would lead him to move to Washington DC and honestly, his war actions to me make him something of a saint. Just in Frederickburg, he stuck around to visit and help bury the dead of the over 18,000 dead soldiers that were just lying on the ground. But, then he started visiting hospitals. These visits deeply affected him. He had planned on going back to New York after he found his brother, but he couldn't do that anymore. Instead he changed courses and went to Washington DC. He got a job as a clerk where he would work during the day, but then he would spend the rest of his time in the hospitals. And he would just sit with soldiers. He didn't care if they were union of confederate. He brought with him bags of candy. He wrote letters to their parents. He played twenty questions. If they wanted him to read the Bible, he read the Bible. If they wanted a cigarette, he'd scrounge up a cigarette. Many of them were teenagers. He kissed and hugged them; he parented them in their final moments of life. For many, he was the last tender face they would see on this earth. The numbers range, but documentation reveals he visited and helped anywhere from 80-100,000 soldiers. Let me interrupt you for a second to highlight how bad it was to be in a hospital during this time period. No one at this time understood the importance of anticeptics or the need to be clean. The Union Army lost 300,000 lives in combat. But, they experienced an estimated 6,400,000 cases of illnesses, wound and injuries. Hospitals were filthy and dangerous places. For many of those young men, Whitman was the last touch of kindness they would ever experience on this earth. He said later that those years of hospital service were and I quote, “the greatest privilege and satisfaction..and, of course, the most profound lesson of my life.” He usually left the hospital at night and slept in a room he rented but if a soldier needed him or asked him to stay, he would often stay up all night with wounded and dying men and then head from the hospital to the office. Here are his words "While I was with wounded and sick in thousands of cases from the New England States, and from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, and from Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and all the Western States, I was with more or less from all the States, North and South, without exception… "I was with many rebel officers and men among our wounded, and gave them always what I had, and tried to cheer them the same as any. . . . Among the black soldiers, wounded or sick, and in the contraband camps, I also took my way whenever in their neighborhood, and did what I could for them.” Well, let me also say that Washington DC was a nasty place to be living at that time. Physically, it was a construction zone, nothing like the beautiful collection of buildings and streets designed by the French architect Pierre L Enfant that we see today. It was muddy; it noisy; it was full of the noises of building and killing. It was political. Abraham Lincoln stated that during those days, “If there is a worse place than Hell, I am in it.” Dang, because DC, the city, was so bad? Because being president in the Civil War was so bad. Lincoln had a different view of his role of leadership than most people today understand. And we need to go back to when he was elected in 1860. The country was divided- and even if you didn't believe in slavery, the question of how to get rid of it wasn't something people agreed on. Many thought it should just be abolished. Others thought you should just keep it from expanding and let it die slowly. Lincoln was surrounded by people on all sides who all wanted him to have “bold leadership”- do radical things- whatever those were to them- but Lincoln liked to respond to his critics by referencing an entertainer who was known for tight walking over water. Sometimes, he even would push a wheelbarrow across these ropes; one time he stopped in the middle of the river to eat an omelete on his tightrope, sometimes he'd carry someone on his back- all crazy stunts that didn't seem survivable. Lincoln had seen him perform walking a tight rope across Niagara falls and he thought it was a perfect metaphor for how he saw himself. Let me quote Lincoln here- the artist went by the name Blondin. Suppose,” Lincoln said, “that all the material values in this great country of ours, from the Atlantic to the Pacific—its wealth, its prosperity, its achievements in the present and its hopes for the future—could all have been concentrated and given to Blondin to carry over that awful crossing.” Suppose “you had been standing upon the shore as he was going over, as he was carefully feeling his way along and balancing his pole with all his most delicate skill over the thundering cataract. Would you have shouted at him, ‘Blondin, a step to the right!' ‘Blondin, a step to the left!' or would you have stood there speechless and held your breath and prayed to the Almighty to guide and help him safely through the trial?” Lincoln saw himself on a tight rope and going too far one way or the other would make the entire thing collapse. He wasn't trying to crush and destroy his fellow man, even his Southern brother, although he was trying to win the war and emancipate the slaves, which he did do. He was trying to heal a nation- to bring brother back to brother. And we must never forget that brothers WERE literally killing their brothers. Uniting and building a country that was this morally divided was a seemingly impossible task- and he could see from his perch in Washington that this was hell. Whitman would stop to see him going in and out of the White House. This was in the days when you could do that. They didn't even have secret service for the president. Whitman looked at Lincoln and saw sadness in his eyes. But Whitman always believed Lincoln was the right man. If anyone could bring America together, it was Lincoln. Lincoln didn't hate his enemy. He loved his enemy. Just like Whitman. This was the attitude where Whitman saw hope and a future as he sat with both confederate and Union soldier, black soldiers and white soldiers, mending their wounds, writing their final farewells. But make no mistake, Lincoln was committed to emancipation and as the war came to the end and reconstruction was in sight, he was preparing America to grant full citizenship that included voting rights to All American males- including African-American ones. In one letter he said, “I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong; nothing is wrong. I cannot remember when I did not think so, and feel so”. And yet this is the same man who could say during his second inaugural address, one month before General Lee will surrender at Appomatox and 41 days before he will be murdered… With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan -- to achieve and cherish a lasting peace among ourselves and with the world. to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with the world. all nations. There was one man in the crowd that day, who was actually so close to Lincoln he shows up in the inauguaration picture. This man heard those words and was committed to stopping Lincoln from fulfilling this pledge. John Wilkes Booth was standing not far from Lincoln that day. On April 11, what we now know was to be his last speech, Lincoln called for black suffrage. Booth was in the audience that day as well, after hearing Lincoln make that statement Booth is known to have said, “that is the last speech he will ever make.” On that fateful day, April 15, 1865 Whitman was visiting his family. However, his significant other, Peter Doyle was in Washington DC and heard that the president was going to Ford's theater to see a performance of the comedy “My American Cousin.” It was Good Friday, the sacred day where Christians celebrate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. This is what Peter Doyle said later about what happened that evening. I heard that the President and his wife would be present and made up my mind to go. There was a great crowd in the building. I got into the second gallery. There was nothing extraordinary in the performance. I saw everything on the stage and was in a good position to see the President's box. I heard the pistol shot. I had no idea what it was, what it meant—it was sort of muffled. I really knew nothing of what had occurred until Mrs. Lincoln leaned out of the box and cried, "The President is shot!" I needn't tell you what I felt then, or saw. It is all put down in Walt's piece—that piece is exactly right. I saw Booth on the cushion of the box, saw him jump over, saw him catch his foot, which turned, saw him fall on the stage. He got up on his feet, cried out something which I could not hear for the hub-hub and disappeared. I suppose I lingered almost the last person. A soldier came into the gallery, saw me still there, called to me: "Get out of here! we're going to burn this damned building down!" I said: "If that is so I'll get out!" Whitman used Doyle's account to help pen the only poem that I know of where Whitman used traditional poetic forms. It is an Elegy for the death of Abraham Lincoln, titled “O Captain My Captain”. He actually wrote two elegies- one speaking for the nation- in the voice of a common sailor- it he wrote in a formal style of poetry acceptable to the people of his day. The second, in some ways more personal because it is in a style similar to what we see in the rest of Leaves of Grass. The second poem, When Lilacs …”is often thought be be written after O Captain” Although I'm not sure it is. It is more epic in its feeling- it uses symbols that are more archetypal and timeless- although that term wasn't invented in his day. In O Captain my Captain, Whitman takes on the persona of a soldier, a sailor. In the second, he uses his own voice- that universal “I” like we see in Song of Myself. We don't have time to read the entirely of “O Lilacs When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom' , it has over 200 lines, but we can Read a little bit of it. Instead we will focus on the only poem anthologized during Whitman's lifetime- O Captain my Captain. The one I know from that famous scene in Dead Poet's Society where the students stand for their fallen teacher, John Keating, immortalized by Robin Williams. Agreed- I can't read this poem without thinking of Robin Williams, but we should probably try since we spent quite a bit of time setting up the image of Lincoln. O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done, The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won, The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring; But O heart! heart! heart! O the bleeding drops of red, Where on the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead. O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells; Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills, For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding, For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning; Here Captain! dear father! This arm beneath your head! It is some dream that on the deck, You've fallen cold and dead. My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still, My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will, The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done, From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won; Exult O shores, and ring O bells! But I with mournful tread, Walk the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead. As we have clearly expressed, Whitman the defender of the common man, does not usually elevate one person over another- but For Lincoln he makes a notable exception. O Captain my Captain is written from the point of view of an insider. We can imagine a young soldier, a sailor. He's on the ship- Of course, the captain is President Lincoln- the ship is the country. The tone is one of exultation then distress. We had finished- the fearful trip was done!!! We had made it then…. Christy, and it's important to note that it WAS done. Lincoln did bring that ship to harbor. On April 2, right before he died on the 11th The confederacy vacated Richmond. On April 4, President Lincoln together with his ten year old son Tad walked through the streets and into Jefferson Davis' office. “Admiral Porter who was with him had this to say, “No electric wire could have carried the news of the President's arrival sooner than it was circulated through Richmond. As far as the eye could see the streets were alive with negroes and poor whites rushing in our direction, and the crowd increased so fast that I had to surround the President with sailors with fixed bayonets to keep them off. They all wanted to shake hand with Mr. Lincoln or his coat tail or even to kneel and kiss his boots.” Later on Admiral Porter said this, “I should have preferred to see the President of the United States entering the subjugated stronghold of the rebel with an escort more befitting his high station, yet that would have looked as if he came as a conqueror to exult over a brave but fallen enemy. He came instead as a peacemaker, his hand extended to all who desired to take it.” Christy, at one point, it is said that an older African American gentleman bowed before Lincoln and Lincoln went to the man, took him by the hand and raised him up and told him he didn't need to kneel to anyone, he was a free man. I cannot imagine the emotion. And so we try to imagine the emotion – after so much carnage, who could walk the tightright and heal the utter hatred still inherent in the heart of both victor and defeated. Notice there is meter, each stanza is composed of iambs which may or may not mean anything to you. It just means there's a beat- like a drum beat, like a heart beat- “The ship has wethered every rack, the prize we sought is won. The people are exalting. But then he dies…in the first two stanzas, the boy addresses the captain as someone still alive, but by the third stanza he has accepted the reality. And of course, this is exactly has grief strikes. We never accept it initially, at least I have that problem. I'll share my personal experiences in a different episode, but it's natural. He says, “Rise up, Father.” We feel a sense of desperation- the idea- of = no, no, no, this can't be happening. It's not possible. Not now. Not after all of this. But by the third stanza, the sailor unwillingly switches to the third person. My captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still.” There is a sense of intimacy, “MY father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will”. We also see that that formality of the meter breaks down in that last line, “Fallen cold and dead”. The sailor has broken down. America is not just devastated because their leader is dead, but they are now vulnerable- what's going to happen to us. Who can lead us? Who can walk the tightrope? And that of course, is the ultimate tragedy. We will never know what might have been had he lived to complete his second term, but one statesman grasped fully the tragedy when he predicted that “the development of things will teach us to mourn him doubly.” And of course he was right, even Jefferson Davis, the leader of the conferederacy, although I point out that Lincoln never one time acknowledged him as preside, bemoaned Lincoln's death after losing the war and for good reason. After Lincoln''s death, profiteers, corruption and all kinds of chaos descended on America. Grant, who was a sincere and an incredible advocate for African Americans, was able to defeat the confederate armies but not able to contain the host of corruption that plagued our nation during reconstruction. And so we end with Whitman's final poem- his most personal tribute to Lincoln and the one that many consider the better if less famous work, “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom”. In this poem, Whitman reverts to his usual style of free verse and strong metaphors. It's beautiful and for me, it's where we see the universal truth of lost moral leadership and grief emerge- he expresses loss well beyond the moment of Lincoln. Let's read just the first little bit. It's long, and references the journey of Lincoln's casket to its final resting place without ever mentioning Lincoln's name. When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd, And the great star early droop'd in the western sky in the night, I mourn'd, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring. Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring, Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west, And thought of him I love. 2 O powerful western fallen star! O shades of night—O moody, tearful night! O great star disappear'd—O the black murk that hides the star! O cruel hands that hold me powerless—O helpless soul of me! O harsh surrounding cloud that will not free my soul. There are three big symbols in this poem= the lilacs, the sun and then a bird. But since we read only the first two stanzas, I want to focus on those. Lilacs are flowers that have a strong smell and were blooming at the time of Lincoln's death. They are beautiful, but they also return every spring. The star is an obvious symbol for Lincoln. I want to point out that Whitman never really used stars as positive images for leaders because he didn't like the idea of a ruler just hoarding over us- but again, in this case, he made an exception. Lincoln was the powerful star- and of course, we are left to answer, why would a man, so bent on equality of humans, elevate this one man- the only man he would elevate- it wasn't just because he was the president. It was because he embodied what a great leader truly was- and this is the nice idea that I think resonates through the ages. Agreed, average leaders and I will say most leaders give lip service to serving all people, but we can see by their actions, that a lot of that is propaganda. Most are in it to win it. It's easy to get to the top and view oneself as better than the rest of us. It's just natural to do what's best for me or my team, so to speak. It's natural to want to put enemies in submission- prove own own power and greatness. But Lincoln was different- his compassion for his enemy, his unwavering commitment to integrity, his ability to see beyond his current moment, is a star- something that outlasts us all. The South as well as the North mourned deeply Lincoln's loss. The procession described in this poem where the casket was taken from Washington DC back to Illinois was something that had never happened in the history of the United States and has not happened since. It is a legacy of leadership that Whitman not only admired but also immortalized. It's also a legacy that I find inspiring no matter how great or small our little ships are, if we are ever called to be a captain. It's something to think about when we smell lilacs in the Spring. For Whitman every time we smelled those flowers, we grieve, but also we remember- because just as lilacs return every Spring, so does a new opportunity- the end of the Lilac poem looks to the future. In another of Whitman's great poems, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” he says this, “We use you, and do not cast you aside-we plant you permanently within us, We fathom you not-we love you-there is perfection in you also, You furnish your parts toward eternity, Great or small, you furnish your parts toward the soul.” It's a nice idea, Lincoln was a man, but for Whitman he embodied an ideal we can all aspire to: integrity, humility, compassion and grace- in defeat and death but also in victory. Whitman believed in those ideals in leadership- leadership that embraces those things can lead a ship to harbor in scary waters. Perhaps, when we smell the lilacs, we can be reminded that those ideals are also planted in us. Thanks for listening. We hope you enjoyed our discussions of Walt Whitman. Next episode, we will look farther into the American past to even deeper roots of democracy on the American continent, the Iroquois constitution. So, thanks for listening, as always please share a link to our podcast to a friend or friends. Push it out on your social media platforms via twitter, Instagram, facebook or linked in. Text an episode to a friend, and if you are an educator, visit our website for instructional resources. Peace out.
In this session we swerve from the text of William Blake's PROVERBS OF HELL to what news we may find of its shape in Bob Dylan's "I Contain Multitudes," the title and refrain of which is lifted from a line in Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself." We touch on these two guys, as well as Anne Frank, Emily Dickinson, Mr. Poe and Dr. Indiana Jones, as we seek to fathom as always the heart of the heart of the eternal dilemma.
We Make Books is a podcast for writers and publishers, by writers and publishers and we want to hear from our listeners! Hit us up on our social media, linked below, and send us your questions, comments, and concerns for us to address in future episodes. We hope you enjoy We Make Books! Twitter: @WMBCast | @KindofKaelyn | @BittyBittyZap Instagram: @WMBCast Patreon.com/WMBCast Episode Transcript (by TK @_torkz) [Upbeat Ukulele Intro Music] Rekka: This is We Make Books, a podcast about writing publishing and everything in between. Rekka is a published Science Fiction and Fantasy author, and Kaelyn is a professional genre fiction editor. Together, they'll tackle the things you never knew you never knew about getting a book from concept to finished product, with explanations, examples, and a lot of laughter. Get your moleskin notebook ready. It's time for We Make Books. Kaelyn: My sister just finished reading the Grisha trilogy. And she was, of course, more of a fan of the Six of Crows after reading that. But one of the things she messaged me- she was like “yeah, the ending was kind of whatever, but it is very clear that this person was reading Harry Potter when they wrote this.” R: [laughs] K: And I said “Yeah, that definitely comes through.” She gave me this whole list of like, book two is basically just The Order of the Phoenix, and the end battle with all of the Grisha and the stand downs, all this stuff, and I was like “Yeah, I guess you're right.” To be honest with you, I kinda limped through the end of that book, I wasn't thinking about that too much. But anyways, it got me thinking about influences in writing and how writers are influenced and how in some cases that's something that we're like “Yes! You can tell that this writer was influenced by such-and-such, and they weave it so beautifully into their story.” And sometimes you get my sister calling me to complain about how she basically just read Harry Potter with Russian witches. R: So was your sister accusing the author in any way of plagiarism? K [overlapping]: Not plagiarism. R [overlapping]: As a reader I'm curious, like how the reader perceives it when it's that clear when someone's been influenced. K: I should've asked her before we started recording this - and this is something we'll get to in there - I couldn't tell if my sister was accusing the author of laziness or unoriginality. R: Okay. K: That's one of the things I wanted to talk about today as we're talking about influence. What is influence, how are writers influenced? How's the best way to leverage and utilize that influence? And when does influence cross into the realm of the negative? When is it no longer praise worthy? When is it, for instance, lazy, contrived, unoriginal, or, in worst case scenario, bordering into plagiarism? R: Yeah, because that's a tricky thing - if we always wrote a completely original story, you wouldn't have something like Joseph Campbell's The Hero's Journey. Because we wouldn't have a set format that a story would take. So when somebody accuses a fantasy book of being “Star Wars with elves,” well, Star Wars was a Greek epic in space. K: Oh, I would've called it a Western. R: Okay fine. [overlapping] I mean, people have called it a Western. K: [overlapping] I mean, both work. Both work. [laughs] R: Yeah, but I'm just saying, The Hero's Journey, Joseph Campbell is, he's studying the ancient literature, so that's why I decided to say Greek. But if we could always write something that was completely original, there would be no way to study literature with comparisons and contrasts. There are always going to be parallels between stories written in a similar culture by people who are writing in a similar society. Like, a hundred years apart, you would not necessarily detect the influence of Harry Potter in the Grishaverse. But they're not written a hundred years apart - it was maybe a decade, probably not. K: I'd be curious to go back and try to time out when these books were being written, and when that coincides with the release of the latter half of the Harry Potter books. But anyways, real quick, I'm big into definitions, so let's talk about definitions. Influence is the capacity of something - a person, a situation, a circumstance - to have an effect on another person, on the development of the situation, on the behavior of someone or something. Or, in some cases, even the effect itself. You'll notice there that influence is kind of framed as both proactive and reactive. You can influence something, or you can be influenced. We're talking today about being influenced. R: And we're not talking about Instagram. K: [laughs] Oh, God. You know what's funny? I went through this whole thing and I didn't even think about the concept of influencers, and now I'm depressed. R: Because you didn't or because now you are? K: [laughs] Because now I am. R: Okay. I'm sorry. I take it back, I didn't say anything. K: [laughs] So, writers don't write in a void. It's sort of a reverse Heisenberg principle, which is “whatever you study will also change.” Whatever you read changes you, or whatever you consume changes you. So, writers don't write in a void. If you took a baby and raised them in a box with no interaction with the outside world whatsoever, well, to be honest I'm not sure they'd be capable of putting together an interesting story because they've had no influence. R: You know what's funny, that's why I don't have kids. Because I thought about this kind of thing frequently in high school, like “what would happen if you raised a child in a padded room? And you never interacted with them, and they never saw another human?” So you're welcome, world, that I have not raised any children. Those children are welcome because I did not abuse them in such a manner. K: [laughs] R: But it's good to hear that someone else has had these thoughts. Although, Kaelyn and I did originally bond over the fact that we're terrified of the idea of raising children. K: Pregnancy is just - R: And pregnancy. It's not for everybody. I recognize that for some people it's a beautiful process, but for Kaelyn and for me, it is body horror. K: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, there's an entire nother skeleton in your skeleton. [laughs] R: Yes. And it's growing. [overlapping] It's getting larger. K [overlapping]: It keeps getting bigger. R: And if you've never seen an MRI of a baby's skull, there's a lot of teeth in there. K: Yeah, also they're squishy. R: Well, the MRI doesn't necessarily show that. It just shows all those chompers, waiting. Waiting. K: Yeah. There's a lot of extra teeth in there. R: Okay. [laughs] Where were we going? K [overlapping]: So for our writing- R [overlapping]: A child raised in a padded cell would probably write a different kind of story than somebody who's been exposed to Harry Potter. K: Yeah, and if you take out every third word, it's their plan to destroy the world with their laser beams. R: This reminds me of the book The Artist's Way. I think it's a month-long program designed to improve your creativity and I think maybe even to come up with… it's like NaNoWriMo but it's very classist and elitist. K: [laughs] R: But the first thing it asks you to do is swear off all media for the month. K: Okay. R: And I put the book down right there. K: [laughs] R: Because I was like, that is literally impossible. I was in art school at the time, so I could not promise that I wasn't going to have to look at media. And also, this was written in 1992, before anybody was logging onto the internet daily. K: Yeah, it was much easier to walk away from media for a month. R: And I was trying to read it, I think, in 1999 or 2000, and it was even easier, at that point, to walk away from media than it would be now. K: Yep. R: But, yes, it's called The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron. And I imagine that Julia Cameron has a very nice life and is able to unplug from media whenever it is convenient for her to do so. K: Well, in 1992 that meant “turn off the TV.” R: Right, it meant “don't pick up a newspaper” or, you know. K: Yeah. R: In 2016 they re-released a 25th anniversary edition, and I can't imagine they did much to it, but it really probably needed a lot of re-examining to - K: Yeah. It's - R: - to even be relevant in 2016, I can't even imagine. K: Now, was the purpose of this to do a detox of influence from your life? R: Yes. That is exactly what it was, to avoid influence for the month and find out what you write, not what the world around you influences you to write. But I think in her case, she was treating world influence and media and current events as a negative. K: Mhm. R: And I would argue that if you are responding to the world around you, then the politics of your creativity is going to be more relevant and more well-informed. And I think that's a good thing. K: Well, yeah. And this is something that we can certainly talk about with influence - current influence versus longevity. You'll see a lot of writers that go out of their way to not incorporate things that might later be considered an anachronism in their writing, so that they're not influenced by that. R: Mhm. K: So that's another good example of influence. So, let's get the elephant in the room out of the way here: influence is not copying. As we were talking about, writers don't write in a void. You're absorbing everything that you interact with and consume every day, and, whether you know it or not, it's influencing and incorporating itself into even your way of thought. R: You hear that? So if you were following an Instagram influencer, do not copy everything they do. K: [laughs] Yes. Please don't. But, again, it's the reverse Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Whatever you're consuming changes you. There are entire PhD programs dedicated to studying and understanding the influence that certain parts of literature have had on larger parts of literature. Influence is not a bad thing. In many ways, it's a scholarly pursuit. Go to any Wikipedia page for any sort of well-known novel, and I guarantee you there's going to be a section in there that says “Influence.” R: Oh yeah, yeah. K: And it's going to be a couple paragraphs talking about the history of the genre, or the subject material leading up to this. Influence is, apart from being an important part of writing, an academic pursuit. So all of that said, we are talking about influence in a very positive way here. We're saying it's great to read things, and to consume and internalize them so that this can help enrich your writing. Something that you really enjoyed, something you thought was maybe unique, or something that you were like, “Oh, what if I applied that to a character that I already have?” That's a good thing. I think it enriches your writing, I think it shows layers and growth, etcetera. K: That said, sometimes influence goes the opposite way. [laughs] Sometimes you've read something and you're like, “this is terrible,” or “this was such a ridiculous ending,” or “I hated that this happened.” And that might compel you to go through your manuscript and scrub absolutely everything having to do with that. The whole point is that whether you mean to or not, you are going to be influenced by external components in your writing. You could never read anything else, and you will still be influenced by things in the world just by existing in it. But we are talking more about influences in writing here, so we'll stick with that. R: And we assume that you are being influenced by books because, as we say, if you want to be a writer you need to also be a reader. So we're telling you, go read widely in your genre, and part of that is that we expect you to absorb some of those elements and some of those styles. On a conscious level, we want you to look at the covers, we want you to look at the themes and the tropes and everything like that, but we also expect that on a subconscious level that's going to influence you and hopefully make you a better writer within your genre. K: And if you read a lot within your genre, you will start to notice trails of influence yourself. If you read a lot of - especially maybe a really niche kind of fantasy or science fiction genre, you're going to be able to chronologically put some things in order, like “Oh yes, I can see that book A came out at this time, and then three years later this book came out, and there are certainly elements from book A that I can see coming through in book B even though they were written by different authors.” K: So, I was telling Rekka before we started recording–I went down a little bit of a rabbit hole with this, because for reasons unbeknownst to me and possibly the influence of vampiric elements, I, for whatever reason, picked up my copy of Dracula off the shelf and I've just been flipping through random parts. And then we were talking about doing this, and I was like, vampires are a really really good example of influence through literature. They're something that has always been around - the Mayans actually had a god that was basically a vampire, even though they didn't acknowledge that, bat wings and all. And there's something that–I think you'd be hard pressed to find a significant culture of any sort of longevity from history that didn't have some sort of mythological being that displayed vampire-like qualities. K: In the late 1700s, early 1800s, though, there was the vampire craze in western Europe. There were a lot of short stories and things written about vampires, even though they've been codified as part of the mythos for a long time. But even then, they were sort of holding up the folklore and traditions of vampires–they were reanimated corpses, they were bloodsuckers that came out at night to drain people of their very lifeforce. In some cases, actively rotting bodies, hunched back and demonic looking, claw-fingered and fangs and scary eyes. A lot of this was the traditional folklore. Then we start getting into sexy vampires. [laughs] R: [laughs] I was just going to say. K: [laughs] And there were a couple specific novels that did this. In 1819, John Polidori published a short story called The Vampyre, and this was the first one where the vampire was more of a character rather than just a mindless bloodsucking dead creature. R: Right. This was a vampire worthy of Bela Lugosi's eyes. K: Oh, no one's worthy of Bela Lugosi's eyes. [laughs] R: You know what I'm saying. K: I know, I'm teasing. So, it was very popular. So then, a lot of vampire short stories and short novels were coming out where the vampires were getting a little more sophisticated, and all of these were drawing influence from Polidori's short story. It was a very successful short story. So then, in 1872, an Irish author named Joseph Sheridan [with a mock-French accent] Le Fanu - I'm assuming it's French which is why I did that accent - published Carmilla, which was a fantastic novel. And this is, I would say, probably a turning point where vampires are unabashedly being associated with a sexual element at this point. It has a not-very-subtle vampiric lesbian... stalking, I guess, going on through this book. It's fantastic, it's not that long. If you ever get a chance to read it, it's great. K: And then of course, a couple decades later in 1897, we come to Bram Stoker's Dracula. I should, by the way, say that Bram Stoker and Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu were both Irish. Ireland had a shockingly strong folklore of vampires. In some cases they were fae, which is a whole different category of supernatural elements in Ireland, and in some cases they were just reanimated corpses. Anyways, then we get Bram Stoker, who of course gives us Dracula. And this is considered the preeminent vampire guideline bible, if you will. I think when most of us - granted, Rekka and I are older millennials, but - R: [laughs] How dare you? K: I think the first vampire we heard of was Dracula. R: Mhm. K: I actually remember, growing up, that there was a kid in my neighborhood who just thought vampires were called Draculas. R: Yeah. I think that was probably a… Not that I thought Dracula was a noun, but I never expected Dracula to look the same way twice. K: Yeah. Yeah, Dracula was just like - Dracula, vampire. They were interchangeable. R: Mhm. K: And that's how synonymous this became. Now, look at all the stuff that lead up to this in order for us to get the seminal vampire novel of the time. Stoker was absolutely influenced by all these novels that came before. Something else that's really interesting that Stoker was influenced by is the sexual component of vampires in this. Like I said, that came through hard and strong. Well, maybe I should say most popularly with Carmilla. Here's something else really interesting about Stoker: he was probably gay. It's difficult and inappropriate to go back and retroactively categorize people these ways, but there's a lot of very strong… I'm trying not to say “homoerotic,” I'm trying to say… There's a lot of very - R: Queerotic? [laughs] K: Yeah, there's a- R: There's not a queer person in the universe that will argue this point with you. K: Yeah. R: I think the LGBTQIA+ are very, very ready to claim vampirism. K: [laughs] Absolutely. And that's a great part of the influence of this. Some of Stoker's best friends were Oscar Wilde and Walt Whitman. Actually, I believe Stoker either started writing or finished writing Dracula right after Oscar Wilde was imprisoned, and they were exchanging letters while he was in prison. R: Mhm. K: You have to keep in mind, this was the mid-Victorian period, there's very repressed sexuality, but there was also this burgeoning underground masculine sexual component to it, where everyone - R: See people, this is what happens when you don't let people reveal their ankles. K: Yes. Yes, exactly. [laughs] So, one of the things through Dracula is this secretiveness, this sense of penetration. Not only the fangs in your throat, but a lot of them get into your head and screw with you that way. This was not something we saw in previous iterations of vampires, who were gross, for lack of a better term. [laughs] R: [laughs] Yeah. K: So, this influence comes through in a lot of different ways. And as I'm talking more about Dracula I can say like, “Okay, well there's a lot of very… what we would now consider queer sexual elements that we see in Dracula, coming through with the relationship between Dracula and Johnathan Harker and Dracula and Mina.” But there's also the influence of other writers who were starting to make vampires actually people, rather than Nosferatu-style monsters. R: Right. K: Dracula, I would argue, then in turn really helped influence the next generation of common horror. At that point we're getting into H.P. Lovecraft and existential horror. Lovecraft, who, by the way, wasn't quite a contemporary of Stoker's, but was very aware and actually wrote some reviews of his writing. He didn't really like a lot of it. [laughs] I would argue that that was probably part of what influenced Lovecraft: it was a hard turn from these very sterile, white-marble, gothic horror novels to a lot of raw, and ocean, and dark mold, steam spaces. R: You can literally write the sentence “I can't describe this.” and people are like “Woo, that is scary.” K: Yeah exactly. So much of Lovecraft is like, “it's too horrible to describe!” but it's like “Yeah, but can you tell me anyway?” [laughs] R: You mentioned earlier that an influence can be “I don't want to do this.” K: Yes. R: So, here we are. This is Lovecraft saying “Well, Stoker wasn't racist enough for me, so I'm gonna write my own thing.” K: [laughs] Oh, God, Lovecraft. It's so hard to read some of that stuff. [sighs] Psychologists would be better at trying to figure out Lovecraft's influence than me, I'm certainly not going to. To say the man had issues is an understatement. He was more of a collection of neuroses formed into a human. Anyways, this is just something I was thinking of as a pretty-easy-to-track set of influences. We go from vampires being very loosely defined and having inconsistent characteristics based on what region the stories are being told in, to some stories published that codify certain rules about them, to their evolution from “Eww, it's a rotting, blood-drinking corpse” to “Huh, maybe I'd like date that person.” R: [laughs] Maybe I would like those lips on my bare neck! K: Yes, exactly. Which is a pretty interesting leap that really did not take that long to get from point A to point B. But all of this was just building on influence and influence, after that. R: Yeah, all you needed was for one author to pick it up and go, “What if vampires, but sexy?” K: [laughs] Yeah. You know what's funny, we have this sort of modern-day depiction of Dracula as a very suave, debonair… what's the word I'm looking for? High-society type person. R: Sophisticated. K: Sophisticated, yeah. In the novel, he is those things a little bit, but he is very off-putting and he is... weird to look at, I guess I should say. R: Yeah, there's that first scene where Johnathan is eating in front of him, and you definitely get a vibe that this dude is not right. K: Like, he's talking about his hairy ears. [laughs] R: [laughs] Yeah. K: His weird skin, he looks ill, as if when he's making his way to the castle all of the peasantry crying and pressing crucifixes into his hands wasn't red-flag enough for him. R: No, no, no. It's just a quaint little village, this is the thing they do. There is the aspect of vampirism having the power of glamour, and I think this is probably the most effective display of it. The way that he's describing Dracula, there's nothing attractive about this man, and yet. K: He's very drawn to him. R: Mhm. K: And he wants to help him. R: As is Mina. [laughs] K: And Lucy, and all of them. So yeah, vampires. Great example of influence in literature over the course of a relatively short time, shaping something that we now consider to be commonplace. R: Mhm. K: We've even narrowed it down farther. One of my favorite things about Dracula is, there's nothing that necessarily says he can't go in the sun in that book. R: Right, right. [laughs] K: It's just that he has no powers after noon, I think, or he loses his powers at sunrise. So he can be outside, but he's just a regular guy at that point. R: Mhm. K: So, obviously things continued to change and evolve there, the “no going out during the day” is held over from the much older vampire myths. Anyways. So, all of that said, how do we see influences in writing? When can we pick these out? One of the obvious is the story itself, the plot. Maybe some story arcs. R: I would argue that people tend to pick it up faster when it's a similar setting. When it's the worldbuilding, I think people notice it more. K: Okay. R: And I think, again, plot arcs and character arcs are things that we do have to recycle. K: Absolutely. I think it's rare these days to see completely original, never-before-imagined setting. In terms of world-building, both the world itself, and in my notes here I put “world systems.” Anything from the way magic functions, or government functions, or society functions. There's only so many ways you can organize people, essentially. [laughs] So there may have been something that you came across and you're like “Oh, that's interesting. What if I did this instead?” The characters- anything from the archetypes and tropes of characters to their storylines and their redemption arcs, or even just the relationships, how they interact with each other. How the characters are broken out either into family groups or groups of friends or hierarchies within that. I think we see that a lot. With plot, we can kind of go back to what I said at the beginning of the episode: sometimes there are things in there where it's like, “this is clearly Order of the Phoenix.” R: Mhm. K: [laughs] We're just seeing it presented a different way. R: And again, an agent loves this, because you can say “this is my list of story comps.” And if they're successful books, the agent can use that to sell the story and then the publisher can use it to sell the book. K: Mhm. R: So even though sometimes it sounds like we are poo-pooing derivative work, if it comes across as fresh, nobody's going to poo-poo that you have a great list of comps to start with. K: Definitely, yeah. R: And I would like to note that that is the first time we have said “poo-poo” on this podcast. I feel like that should be marked. K: That definitely needs to be denoted for posterity. R: And now it's been said three times. K: [laughs] Then there's two other areas of influence I'd like to talk about that are a little harder to quantify. One is style. And this comes more to writing style, and how you're presenting your story. For instance, being influenced by the way the author just writes in general, their style, I will harken back to one of our favorite examples here. If you've read Gideon the Ninth it is a very very unique writing style, not something I've ever come across before and I'm sure there are a lot of people who are currently in the process of attempting to imitate it; I don't know how successful they're going to be, but I bet they're trying. R: And then there are others who are influenced by it to say “Oh, I can let loose like that?” K: Yeah. Exactly. Or, “I can try something completely different that I didn't think anybody would be interested in, but if they're willing to do this then maybe they would.” Point of view or viewpoint in the book - if you've read the second book in the Locked Tomb series, Harrow the Ninth, a lot of that is written second person. The Broken Earth series, large portions of that are in second person. R: Well, the Broken Earth series, the amazing thing is it's written in all three. K: Yes, yeah. R: So if you haven't read that I can't go any further, I do not wanna spoil that, even though it's been out for years, the culmination of that book is so good that I refuse to ever spoil it. But go read it, if you haven't read it, for sure. It's a big one - K: It's a lot - R: But it is so worth it. I listen to it on audio, and I can recommend that too. K: Yeah. So both of those books have instances of strange, or - R: Disorienting? K: Disorienting's an excellent word. I remember reading Harrow the Ninth and texting Rekka and going like “Is this like this the entire time?” R: And my only response is “Did you get to the soup yet?” K: [laughs] And it was a mentality shift, and once I just was like “Okay, I fixed my brain to a point that it can accept and read this now.” But another style quality is dialogue. How you incorporate and how you use dialogue in your writing is something that I think is very easily influenced by how other people do that. This can also start feeding into the character influence there as well, how the characters talk and interact with each other is very influenced by dialogue. So then the last kind of nebulous part that I'd like to talk about, and this is a little bit different but it is worth bringing up, is historical influence. There are a lot of books and stories that are nominal retellings of either one or a series of historical events. I'll use Game of Thrones here as an example, and spoilers for anybody who hasn't read or watched - R: I don't care if we spoil Game of Thrones. [laughs] K: George R. R. Martin, well first the basis of a lot of this is the War of the Roses, which was the English Civil War. It was also called the Hundred Years' War; it was just a long, bloody, drawn-out battle of constantly changing kings and powerful families trying to get their person on the throne of England. R: And the interesting part is, it is a hundred years, so the people who started this have cast this war upon the generations to follow, and if that doesn't tell you something about where George R. R. Martin is going to be forced to take the end of the books, I don't know what will, because HBO managed to make the show take what, the war take five years or maybe ten years if that? Just the fact that it was ten seasons, right? Was it ten seasons or nine? K: It was eight seasons. R: Okay, so at most, because of the children aging on the show, it was a nine-year hundred-year war. So if George R. R. Martin is following intentionally the framework of the Hundred Years' war, none of the characters that you're rooting for are going to make it. Just in the nature of aging. K [overlapping]: And there's - you can go through and just read a brief history of the Hundred Years' War, and you'll be able to identify characters in there. Like Tyrion has some very clear Richard III vibes to him. But then there's other historical events and groups of people that he took and pulled into this. The Lannisters are such a clear parallel of the Borgia family that it's almost difficult to know that and read this and know what happened to the Borgias. The Red Wedding was based off of a famous event in Scotland where something very very similar happened to that. Some Scottish lords were invited to dinner by a Scottish lord with English leanings, and he killed all of them, to get in good with the English. R: After serving them bread. K: After serving them bread, exactly. But again, historical influence - the concept of guestright is very important in most cultures and especially in Scotland. So there's so many examples of people taking strong influence from either actual historical events or folklore and mythological events, like the Trojan War and things like that, and incorporating it into their writing. There are a lot of writers who decide “I'm gonna do a modern interpretation of such-and-such,” because maybe - for instance the Trojan War, they're very interested in classic Greek mythology and decide “Hey, that's a great story to tell; I'm gonna set it in a different place but still tell the story.” K: So that's some elements of influence, and before we wrap up here, let's address the thing we started to talk a little bit about but should definitely round out. When is influence just becoming copying, at a certain point? This is hard. Because it's really about finesse and originality. It's about taking something that you liked and putting your own spin on it, so to speak. If you're just re-creating the same story and sticking your characters into it, you're going to get called at best lazy, at worst a plagiarist. R: Yeah, there are plenty of books out there - and I have one to include in the list - that are retellings of a classic story. The problem is when you don't approach it as “how do I make this my story?” K: Yes. I'm gonna use young adult genres here because it's a little bit newer and easier to trace through this, and I'm not going to name books in this apart from the first series that I will name because that author is wildly successful. The Mortal Instruments trilogy - you could probably say series at this point, there's so many books in that world at this point - by Cassandra Clare, is one of the early and premiere urban fantasy young adult novels. This was copied so many times. Some of the authors were a little more original with where they were setting it, some of them were a little more original with where they were putting the characters or who the characters were, but the magical teeenagers who are part of a secret society that protects humanity was everywhere. ‘Cause these books were a runaway success. They were very original; no one had really seen something like this before. The Mortal Instruments created so many tropes that I can't and will not try to name them. R: And I think it's, part of that, somebody loves a book that they experienced so much that they want to hold onto that feeling forever, and one way to do that is to create something completely inspired by that same world. And this is where fanfic comes from, and fanfic is healthy, and it's a great way to express feelings of “I don't want to leave this book world.” But when you take it to a publisher and you say “This is going to sell really well because the other one that already did it sold really well,” as they say - don't follow trends in publishing, because you're five years behind. K: Conversely, a lot of people were able to get things like this published because the market wasn't inundated with this yet. R: Right, you had to be among the first to imitate a successful book, which is why they say don't follow the trends, because you won't be among the first. There are so many people out there writing that there are easily 500 people ahead of you in the queue for the publisher slush pile. K: Yeah and I wanna be clear, the first book of this entire - I'm not joking, I think there's over 20 books within this world at this point - the first one came out in 2007. So yes, the Internet was very alive and well at that point; it was not what it is now. Writing communities on the Internet were not what they are now. But all of this is to say that there were people who just straight up copied this genre, this book in some way. Either in terms of setting, in terms of characters, in terms of the magical elements of this, they just straight up copied this and I gotta be honest with you, a lot of them were not terribly successful. [laughs] Some of them were, though, and some of them made some money off of this. R: Well, for other readers who are not writers, when the same thing happens they come out of a book series and they have to wait for the next book, they want more. K: Exactly, they were looking for more. R: This is not unlike when the animation company puts out a very similar cheap animation to the latest Disney release. I worked at Blockbuster, and I saw this all the time. You'd have a big animated Disney release, and you'd have this tiny company out of who-knows-where that put together an animated copy, and they rely on parents and grandparents to grab the wrong one. This is not like trying to give the kids more of what they want, this is like “If we are gonna be next to this Disney movie on the shelf, someone will pick us up by accident and we will make money.” K: Well I always remember because a lot of Disney's classics, like the Disney renaissance movies, they were all like public domain stories. So they would just make that and they could get it out on VHS faster than Disney could - R: Yeah, they were made direct to video. K: Because Disney left it in - like everyone knew what the upcoming Disney movies were. So if you knew there was gonna be Aladdin, well, the story of Aladdin is public domain, you start making Aladdin right away. [Brief interlude of car noises] R: I literally believe that Mike's apartment is built on an overpass. K: No, just next to a road with a lot of people who drive like idiots. R: Well that was like a garbage truck, but anyway. K: That was a motorcycle. R: That was a motorcycle?? It sounded like it had at least 16 wheels. K: Yeah. R: Alright, sorry, so Aladdin - K: So everyone knew what movies Disney was making well in advance, and of course these would take years after they were announced to actually be finished and put in theatres. So if Disney says “we're making Aladdin” - R [overlapping]: Before it's in theatres! K: - well then, another small studio can also make Aladdin. The animation isn't gonna be great but then Aladdin's gonna be in the theatres and then a week later the imitation Aladdin are going to be on shelves, and grandparents are gonna go “Oh my grandchildren want to see -” R: Or “They've been talking about this movie and here it is on VHS,” and they don't know how theatre releases work and so they grab it and buy it, and they spend $18 or $15, seems like a really good deal on a Disney movie, and the animation studio makes their money back. So they do it again. K: So don't be that cheap animation studio. Don't be the person that's taking something that somebody put a lot of time, thought, and creativity into, and churning out the cheap, fast, easy-to-consume version of it. R: Yeah and I don't think, when it comes to writers - I mean I'm sure there are people out there who go “Okay this is the newest thing, I am going to behave like an algorithm and I am going to make another version of it and then release it, and I will make lots of bucks.” There are those writers that–they do that on purpose. So don't be them. But I don't think any of our audience are going to be them. And if you were thinking that that was a great way to make a successful book, let us correct you. But if you are inspired by Gideon the Ninth, or by Mortal Instruments, or anything like that - take the time to develop a story just like you would a completely inspired out of left field story, and take the time to put it together in a considerate and thoughtful and unique way, and then we approve. You get our approval. We're not promising to buy the manuscript, but we are approving a heartfelt influenced work, not an imitation that is intended to ride the wave of success of someone else. K: Exactly. R: Now when we're saying “copying,” are you talking about the publishing houses out there who literally lift the copy and try to sell it on Amazon, and just do it again and again and again as they get caught and cancelled? K: [laughs] No, no. Copying has, I think the way I'm defining it, more to do with not adding any creativity or original elements of your own, just saying “I liked what this person did, I'm going to do it too.” And listen - it's a fine line. One of the things that's really interesting about plagiarism is it's either very obvious - somebody had too many parts in a book, a novel, a poem, that are clearly just from another book - or, you've gotta go through a whole process of proving that somebody had access to something you were working on and directly lifted elements from that and put it into their book. Plagiarism is either very straightforward or very difficult. R: And, with plagiarism, they have plagiarism checkers on the Internet; I think a lot of teachers appreciate that because they can't read everything. So they can run an assignment from a student through a plagiarism checker, and that plagiarism checker can do its best with whatever it has access to in its database to catch - K: Plagiarism checkers are very good now, by the way. R: But we're talking word-for-word plagiarism. Sometimes what we refer to in the publishing world as plagiarism is actually trademark infringement. K: Yes. R: And that is difficult because if you write a story with Harry Potter in it, but you change his name and all the words are your original words, how do we run a plagiarism checker against that? K: Yes. So it's like I said, either very easy or very difficult to prove plagiarism; there's rarely a middle ground there. R: Although there are books that have been caught lifting a paragraph or two, from different books. So like the entire thing is plagiarized, but it's plagiarized from different sources. K: Yeah. You see instances of plagiarism tend to show up more in academic and scientific publishing than in fiction and genre-writing. It definitely does happen, though. R: Yup. Because, again, there are people out there who are confused about what is allowed and what is advisable in writing. K: There are some really significant seminal works in American literature especially–I'm sure globally but I just happen to know the American ones–that are just plagiarized in certain places. And a lot of them were written in a time where it wasn't as easy to check this, so we- R: Find out much later, when it is easier, how much that was widespread. K: Yup. Exactly. R: There are nefarious people. I was referring, in my last statement, to the innocent, naive new writer, who just does not understand what is and isn't acceptable. Or, they didn't intend for it to go widespread, and they wrote a little thing for fun and end up finding out that they are not welcome and doors are being shut in their face because they crossed the line and it got noticed. K: Yeah, exactly. R: That's the thing, a little baby writer learning about things the very hard way. It's a shame. That would be someone that you would hope would find a mentor who would guide them in the right direction before that kind of thing gets shot in their face. But with a pen name you can be reborn, as long as you reiterate yourself in better forms than the previous mistakes that you made. K: Yeah, and plagiarism should be very easy to avoid. R: Mhm. K: If you're looking at somebody else's work and saying “I wish this was mine, I'm going to make this mine,” don't do that. You should never be copying text from somebody else. Everything should be written on your own. R: Yeah, don't go, “How did that person write it? I loved that so much.” Well yes, you did, but that's not your voice. So write it yourself. And I would say that if you close a book and you go, “Oh, I'm so inspired to write,” and you sit down and you start writing right away, don't publish that. [laughs] K: Yeah. R: There is a process to developing your own ideas even if it's mostly internal and you never grab a notebook and work out the story itself. The process of coming up with your own ideas is not “I just read this, I'm going to go write because I'm inspired and I'm going to finish that book before I do anything else.” [laughs] That's probably going to be a very derivative, if not plagiaristic, book. So don't do that. I always recommend you sit with your ideas for a while before you sit down and write it. K: Absolutely. I mean, that's important in general. R: Carry it around like a baby, pretend you're some kind of marsupial and you have your twelve-day gestation period but you still carry that little joey around for a while before it's ready to enter the world. That's kind of the process that I recommend for a writer. K: [laughs] So there you go. Be a marsupial. R: Be a marsupial. The opossum tail has its own fingerprints which are unique to it, so there's that. Grow a prehensile tail and commit crimes with it so that you can be tail-printed later. Alright, I don't know where this story's going. K: I like it, I like it. R: Yeah, I like it too, but it's not a good way to wrap up an episode because all we can do is just stop. [laughs] So, if you have any questions about plagiarism or inspiration, or you just want to share your inspirations and influences, you can @ us on Twitter or Instagram @WMBcast. You can find us on patreon.com/WMBcast, and we will have some more marsupial facts for you in two weeks. K: [laughs] R: [laughs] Thanks everybody for listening, and I hope this was a helpful discussion. Kaelyn and I have to go sit at a desk and figure out- have we fulfilled the promises that we made to you when we started this podcast? Because we feel like we've just kind of been indulging ourselves in what topics we bring up, so if you feel like, “Hey, you said you were going to cover this, and you never covered that,” definitely tell us that too, because we want to go back to our mission statement and make sure that every once in a while we give you an episode that's in line with that. So if you have input to that regard, please let us know. Otherwise, marsupial facts in two weeks! Thanks everyone!
Walt Whitman - Leaves Of Grass - The Poetry Of Young America! Hi, I'm Christy Shriver and we're here to discuss books that have changed the world and have changed us. I'm Garry Shriver and this is the How to Love Lit Podcast. This episode and next, we tackle one of the most intimidating poets in the American Canon- Walt Whitman. He is the generally accepted and almost uncontested greatest contribution America has made to the great canon of World Literature- the ones comprised of those that really intimidate- William Shakespeare, James Joyce, Gustave Flaubert, Vladimir Nabokov, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Pablo Neruda, Ovid, Goethe, Neitche-, Dante- people like that- there are not too many Americans that make that list. And he does intimidate me- truly. And honestly he baffles me. The things he says seem easy to understand except I don't actually understand them. They are beautiful and interesting but also uncomfortable. People love his writing and always have, but he's also very offensive- and he offends all equally- the prude and the religious, but also the secular and intellectual- he offends the socialist as well as the capitalist. Name an identity- he references it and somewhat dismantles it. Primarily because he absolutely rejects group identities as we think of them today- even in terms of nations but in every sense. To use his words, “I am large; I contains multitudes” that's a paraphrase from my favorite selection of his work which we'll read today. For me he's such a curious person in part because of the time he emerged in what was called then the American experiment- and I honestly think his perspective has a lot to do from this unique time period, of course this is not different than how I feel about all of the writers we discuss. But being born in 1819, the United States of America is only 36 years older than he is. His parents were present during the Revolutionary War and have a real respect for what people were trying to do here, and how unusual and fragile democratic government actually was or really is. We, at least we here in the United States, live with the feeling that this country just always has been- that democracy just happens. That elections are just things that have always happened. Most students today in this country don't even think about it. Democracy is the normal order in how things occur; equality and liberty are just virtues that everyone agrees are important- by one definition or another. But None of this was reality and common understanding in 1819 in almost any part of the planet Earth. And most of the world looked at the United States with contempt- a bunch of non-educated hillbillies living in some weird schemata that wouldn't stand the test of time. There was no culture in this country, by international standards. We had no great art, no history to speak of, we weren't writing great philosophies or composing great music. We had not produced a Voltaire, or a Jean-Jacques Rousseau. We had no Catherine the Great or Cosimo De Medici sponsoring great artistic ventures. And so enters Walt Whitman- to which he would say, and did say- whoopdeedoo Europe- you are correct- we have none of that, and I celebrate that we don't. I want to begin with this famous poem by Whitman. Of course, it's from Leaves of Grass which we'll introduce in a second, but if you are reading the Death bed edition which is the one I have- again I'll explain all that later, it's in the beginning, that very first part called “Inscriptions”. Let me read Whitman's famous words on America. I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear, Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong, The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam, The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work, The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck, The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands, The wood-cutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown, The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing, Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else, The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly, Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs. Garry, I want to hear your first thoughts when you read this poem. Let me start by saying, notice how celebratory it is. America is singing carols- not dirges- and the song of the American is the song of hard work- not the Vienna Philharmonic- which by the way was founded in 1842. America was not building art, as commonly understood- we were building lives- free lives- lives where people lived with the choices they made, but they got to make their own choices. This is very different than anywhere else- places more cultured, more sophisticated, more idealized. We don't have serfs working for great lords or ladies. We have no jet-setters so to speak- or people of privilege or high cultural standing- In America we work hard, but we work for ourselves-and everyone does it- and that is something we're proud of. There is no shame in labor. There's a song to that. Yes, it's very much about homestead. It's about individualism and taking responsibility to create it- About creating your own little corner of the world. This is exactly the idea that Alexis DeToqueville referenced in his important work Democracy in America. As a Frenchman, he was totally surprised and impressed with this very thing that Whitman is talking about. This poem is a complete refutation of the English feudal system and that's what Northerners loved about it. In the South, and what was so offensive to Whitman when he spent time in New Orleans was that they were trying to recreate that hierarchal system where some people outrank others to the point of claiming they weren't even human- and that, to Whitman, was the complete opposite of what the entire American Experiment was about. His parents were clearly on team America- he had one brother named George Washington Whitman, another named Thomas Jefferson Whitman and a third named Andrew Jackson Whitman. Ha- I guess that IS a statement. This unique time of history in which he lived allowed Whitman to see such great contrasts in America- he saw democracy and success found in personal effort. He saw vast amounts of unpolluted natural beauty, but he also saw evil at its most deranged, and pain and loneliness at its most intense. We have to remember that his parents lived through the glorious revolutionary war, but he lived during the treacherous Civil War- and his perspective and life experience is very different. He admired the expanse of the West. He loved the natural beauty of this continent, but he also was horrified and despised to its core – the. National plague that has defined and still defines so much of the American story- this legacy of slavery- his views on such, btw- got him fired by more than one employer, btw. At this time, newspapers were owned and operated by political parties, and he was always slipping in views that the political operatives didn't like- so he got fired. HA! Well, I guess some things never change. One thing that baffles and almost offends most academics is Whitman's absolute nothing of an academic background. His parents were basically illiterate, his family was excessively large and chaotic; today we would say dysfunctional. He had one sibling that actually had to be committed to an insane asylum. His formal education was inadequate because his father sent him out to work. It's so ironic that the greatest American poet had no formal tutelage to except what he scrounged up for himself in his own self-taught way by reading in libraries and attending operas. He didn't have that option. His father was also pretty much a financial failure. He was a carpenter by trade, but had also had a little property. His father speculated in real estate after moving to Brooklyn, NY, but wasn't all that great at business and ended up losing most of it. And of course, that's the problem with the land of opportunity- you are kind of out there on your own to make it or break it. And people were very aware of this. There was no guarantee, at all, that America would even survive as a country. It was still an experiment. No one else was living like this. Europeans had monarchies; the South American countries were colonies. Our neighbors to the East were living in empires. Only this little backward nation in a corner of North America was trying to do this weird thing. And Whitman loved it. He really did. He loved the land. He loved the cities. He loved the people. He spent the first 36 years of his life walking around and observing life, mostly in New York City and Long Island (which was NOT a suburb of New York at that time). He loved the libraries and spent tons of time there reading. He loved music, especially opera, which we'll notice has a strong influence on how he writes. He loved learning, listening and observing, and this is what he wrote about. I heard one lecturer say that he was the first non-blind poet- which I thought was weird and what made it stand out. But what the professor meant was that most poets were writing about their inner life, things from their imagination- think Edgar Allan Poe and “The Raven”, but Whitman, in many cases, was transcribing things that he was seeing and hearing in urban life- and this was very different. He would catalogue it- to use a word that is often used to describe this thing that we just saw him do in the poem we just read, make these long lists of details in these long sentences. I also want to point out that it was this desire to self-educate that led him, like many of his day, to be influenced and challenged by the great Ralph Waldo Emerson. We'll do an entire episode or more than one of him, but Emerson's non-conventional ideas about nature and the soul and our inter-connectedness, although ideas that were commonly accepted in the far East, were new on this continent. True- well, In 1855, something happened. Whitman self-publishes the book Leaves of Grass. This first version was only 95 pages long- that's compared to the death bed one which has 415 in my copy. There was no author's name on the cover. Instead, on the first page there was this image of a man in laborer's clothes. Whitman only reveals that he's the author through one of the first unnamed poems calling himself, “Walt Whitman, an American, one of the roughs, a kosmos.” If you look up the word Kosmos in the dictionary it will tell you that that word means- a complex orderly self-inclusive system- which is interesting to think about someone describing themselves as- but it's a Greek word. It's also a Biblical word- which is how I believe Whitman would know it. It is used in the New Testament to mean the universe or the creation as a whole- that's how Whitman defines himself in this poem “Song of Myself” and the context of how he wants us to understand his work and who we are as individuals. We too are kosmos. Well, it didn't start out very cosmic- that's for sure. It's a miracle Leaves of Grass came to be read by anyone. He self-published it, literally type-setting it himself. He printed 795 copies and sold almost none of them. Don't you wish you had one of those originals? I know right, well, people do. In case you're in the market, there are 200 that are still around, and in 2014, one sold at Christie's for $305,000. It's so ironic- Whitman struggled financially until the day he died and celebrated working people in everything he wrote. What do you think he would think of that, Christy? I have zero doubt, he would love it. Totally. Beyond being the book's publisher, he also was the book's publicist. He sent copies to the leading poets of the day trying to drum up some good reviews. Whittier was said to thrown his copy into the fire he was so offended and outraged- the homoerotic imagery was more than he could handle, but Ralph Waldo Emerson saw it for what it was and wrote Whitman back an amazing letter of encouragement. Let me quote Emerson, “I am not blind to the worth of the wonderful gift of Leaves of Grass. I find it the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed.” And of course, to this day, many world class literary scholars still think this about Whitman. What I find humorous about Whitman is that he wrote glowing reviews of his book himself secretly and published them as if they were written by other people. Yeah, he was working the influencer thing way back before that was a thing- He also, printed Emerson's actual glowing review when he reprinted the book in 1856, except he didn't get Emerson's permission to do so. He put Emerson's words, “I greet you at the beginning of a great career” on the spine of the book and he published the entire letter with a long reply andress to Dear Master.” It was NOT received well by Emerson. I can see that as being slightly presumptuous. Of course it was, but I would be tempted as well. He really admired Emerson, in fact this is what he said about Emerson's influence on his writing. “I was simmering, simmering, simmering; Emerson brought me to a boil.” I want us to read the very first part of Song of Myself which was the first poem I Celebrate myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. I loafe and invite my soul, I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass. My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil, this air, Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same, I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin, Hoping to cease not till death. Creeds and schools in abeyance, Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten, I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard, Nature without check with original energy. This is what I mean when I say, it seems like it's very simple to understand except I've read this poem hundreds of times and am still slightly confused as to what he means. The term for this is ambiguous- he makes you, as a reader, put your own interpretation, put yourself into the lines to force the meaning out of it. True, and if you take it at face value just superficially, it may seem that this is a narcissist celebrating egotism, but it clearly doesn't. It also could be misunderstood to mean he celebrates idleness and laziness, but that doesn't seem to be right either. Exactly- I love these first lines. First of all, they are so iconic. One thing Whitman is known for besides the cataloguing which I mentioned when we read I Hear America Singing, is this thing that today we call Free Verse. Whitman is often given credit for inventing the concept, although that is debatable. But what is obvious is that there is no rhyme or meter of any kind at all and there isn't supposed to be. He doesn't want anything to rhyme. Instead, he wants to write in these really long sentences. Every stanza is a single sentence, and he is going to do that through the entire poem. Whitman felt you couldn't get your idea out in these little short phrases of iambic tetrameter like his Whittier, the guy who threw his book in the fire, was doing. Whitman wanted, above all else, to create a sense of intimacy between himself and the person reading- and so he wanted to make sure you could follow his idea- from idea to idea. He got this idea from two places- first he copied the idea from the one book he had been familiar with since his childhood- the King James Version of the Bible. He copied the style like you see in the Psalms or even the Sermon on the Mount. He also got the idea from the opera- if you think about opera- you also have these long phrases- that end with things like figaro figaro fiiiigaro- Is that your impression of the opera? Well, as you know, I enjoy the opera. I haven't always, to be honest. A few years ago, my good friend, I've mentioned her on the podcast before, Millington AP Literature/ Lang teacher Amy Nolette, coerced me to attend with her- and I did. She is an accomplished musician so she really taught me how to admire what was going on- and we went every year for several years until Covid hit. But, having said that, I'm fairly sure, that's my best attempt at singing opera. But back to Whitman, so one of the first things that Whitman is famous for today is this concept of Free Verse- it was innovative then, but now, it doesn't seem that big of a deal. That was a big deal, but a bigger deal to Whitman were the ideas he was putting out there. I celebrate myself- not because I'm so important- not because I have all this amazing heritage or skill or anything- I celebrate myself because I have an essence that is 100% unique to me. Let's read it again. I Celebrate myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. It's not accidental that he throws in there that scientific language. And this is where he will offend the capitalist or competitive side of us. He makes this bold assertion- in this poetic way- to say- what, do you think you're that much better than me- you are made of the exact same material I am- we're both made of atoms- science teaches us that- and for every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. In some sense it's the I'm okay- you're okay attitude, but taking it up a notch- I celebrate myself- you celebrate yourself. For sure, and something we all give lip-service to today but no one actually really believes. I have a creative writing assignment that I ask my students to do every year. We take another Whitman poem called “There was a Child Went Forth” that talks about identity and the physical objects and places that influence who you are- it's a wonderful poem, anyway, I ask my students to write a poem using Whitman's style and technique about THEIR lives. I tell them we're going to read them in small groups, and if they like what they wrote and feel comfortable, we are going to print them and put them outside my door in the hallway for everything to read. At first they are very very resistant to the idea. They all hate it- first because it's writing, secondly because it's poetry- but mostly because they don't think they want their lives sprawled on the hallway of the school. I had a sweet darling child, actually a quiet student, raise her hand in protest and literallty say, I don't want to do this. I can't do this. All I do is go to school and work- there is nothing interesting at all about my life. Ha! She seems to have missed the point. She didn't want to celebrate herself and she's exactly the kind of person Whitman loved celebrating. Exactly- and lots of my kids are like that- they work at Sonic, Chick-Fila- the mall- mowing lawns- but in her case, it turns out she is way more interesting and her poem is on the wall right now. I may take a picture and post it on our website, so you can see them all. I'm very proud of my kiddos- not just because they produced good poems but because lots of them are hardworking. I will say, that next phrase leads us to think that Whitman is a lazy person. He extols the virtue of loafing. But of course, what I know about his biography which we'll get more into next week when we talk about his experiences in the Civil War and all of that, but Whitman was the very opposite of lazy. He was an extremely physical hard worker. True- Let's read the lines you're talking about.. I loafe and invite my soul, I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass. When he says I loaf and invite my soul- he's getting into the philosopher side of him that is so complex and we really don't even have time to go there today, but it's that old idea of contemplating- today what we call mindfulness. And I have to admit, I'm not good at this. He really believes in mindfulness although he didn't know we renamed his concept for him. Loafe- meaning chill out- turn off the phone, turn off the tv, turn off the computer and invite your soul into yourself. Chill out!!! Stop and observe a spear of grass. Just look at it- let your mind go there- let it focus on something small- it's the kind of thing the yoga instructors keep telling us to do, that we rarely heed but we all know we should. Exactly- attention and silence- he things they are indispensable to a sane existence- and two things I'm not all that good at. And then we get to these last two sentences in this opening little poem- My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil, this air, Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same, I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin, Hoping to cease not till death. Creeds and schools in abeyance, Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten, I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard, Nature without check with original energy. There's a lot to say- but he's going to say- I'm proud to be from this place- my parents are from this place. I'm 37- that is not young. He is not a child prodigy- he's writing his first book late in life, relatively- he knows that- but he says I'm in good health and I begin- and I'm not going to stop until death- I'm going to live well all the way til the end- I'm not going to give up on myself. Ever. I can see why he's inspiring. And I to get back to this idea of origins. You know being an American today is something lots of people are proud of (although it is very American to trash our own country) but that's part of our national ethos- but even these same people proudly display their passport. America is a powerful country and a rich country. At that time it was a new country- and new countries don't have the safety of heritage and sometimes the people who come from them have trouble taking pride in their heritage. I totally know what you're talking about. There was a listener who connected with us through our Instagram page and showed us some beautiful pictures he had taken. They were truly amazing- not only were the mountains breathtakingly gorgeous in their own right, but his eye for framing was genius. I messaged him back and told him what I thought of his art. We went back and forth and I finally asked him. Where are you from? And he would never tell me. He said he was from Central Asia and so fort which I eventually gathered he is from one of the new countries formally part of the USSR. I'm not saying he was ashamed of where he was from, I didn't get that sense, but he seemed intimated that we were from America- a place that seems so far away and idealized from his point of view. Whitman would tell this young man- you're from that wonderful air, from wonderful heritage, from atoms just like ours- not just accept it celebrate it. Because, as I read onward, he seems to imply, this is the attitude that breeds great things that breeds beautiful things but if it doesn't- that's okay as well- keep going all the way til death- compete not with others but with yourself- as he goes to self- publish the same book 8 more times until he does . Ha! I guess that's true. I want to read the last sentence again of that opening because he sets up a lot of the rest of his writings with something of a warning- Creeds and schools in abeyance, Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten, I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard, Nature without check with original energy. Again- that language seems simple but at the same time I have to really work at what he's going to say. But I have an interpretation- he's going to say this- put away your school learning and your religious training when you read this. Sit back because I'm going to say some really hard things- that's what he means with that word “hazard”- but they are not mean- they are natural- it's about the energy of being alive. It's the beauty of being you, of being a physical body, of being an inter-connected spirit with connections to other people and part of this physical space. And of course, it's that celebration of the physical body that kept getting him censored. Even Ralph Waldo Emerson later when he was reproducing his book begged him to self-censor what was thinly veiled homo-erotic passages, but he just wouldn't. He didn't see them as erotic- he didn't even see sex like that. For him sexuality and the physical body had a self-evidence important place in our lives and had to be brought out in the open- be it a hazard or not. And again, it kind of was a hazard, he lost a really good job in Washington at one point because his boss found a copy of leaves of Grass in his desk and found it obscene. Poor guy- well, that takes us to the title- Leaves of Grass- and what that even means. I mentioned that Whitman was famous for his style or innovative literary technique, he has been increasingly praised for his innovative ideas about the body, the self, consciousness- he was one of the first America poets to even write about consciousness- the other one btw is Emily Dickinson. But probably the thing I like the best about Whitman, and this is me, personally, is his ability to really capture a wonderful metaphor. He could just say things in an understandable and pretty way- and this is what poetry really is all about- for my money. This phrase that is the title – Leaves of Grass- it means something. First let's read the first part of Song of Myself that talks about grass- I'd ask you to read all of it but I think we might get lost. Song of Myself number 6. A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands; How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he. I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven. Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord, A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt, Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say Whose? Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the vegetation. Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic, And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones, Growing among black folks as among white, Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the same. And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves. When Whitman loafs around and stares at grass- he sees a picture of America- or a picture of any democracy any group of people that understand that they are one poeple- of which America was the example he knew, but he's not exclusionary by any means. He says, look, every single blade of grass is totally different and yet in some sense the same. He calls it a uniform hieroglyphic- what an interesting turn of phrase. It's and I use his words here “black folks as among white, kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congreeman, Cuff, I give to me the same, I receive them the same.” For Whitman, the picture of America was a field of grass. If we look at it, we see hopeful green woven stuff. The handkerchief of the Lord- but if we look at it closely we're all so different- and both things are truly beautiful. It's a paradox. He goes on to say, it's from the land, it's made up of the dust that is made up of the people of the land- I know it gets philosophical- and you can take it as far deep as you want to plunge with him. But you don't have to get all that deep or esoteric if you don't want to. You can just lay on the grass, and smell it and enjoy it- loaf on it- to use his words. You know what I like about that entire image and about Whitman's entire philosophy. He absolutely spoke of diversity, but he did not celebrate diversity- not like we think of doing that today. He celebrates unity- and that's why this metaphor is the title. Whitman had a very refined understanding of how easy we can rip each other apart- there is not more divisive time in American history than the 1850s and of course the 1860s- which are the war years. He lived through the most divided time in American history and he could see it coming even in 1855. But during his life time, he would see 2.5% of America's population die killing each other that was 750,000 people- if we would compare it to the population of America today- that would be over 7 million people. Next week we will see how much he admired Lincoln and what he stood for, but as he understood the American experiment, he believed in admiring differences and loving them, but identifying as a single group- first and foremost. The dominant image here is of a single landscape- beautiful and united across time and space respecting the past not judging or condemning it- allowing ourselves to spring from it renewed and refreshed. And I think that's where the universal appeal comes from. If Whitman was just about American patriotism, maybe we'd like him in this country, but it would feel propagandistic. His ideals are universal and apply to any group of people- anywhere. And he's not afraid to admit-some of thing may be self-contradictory. The first time I ever read Whitman was in college. I went to school studying political science, but in my junior year I decided I didn't want to do that anymore and I was going to get an English major, well this meant I had to take almost exclusively classes that demanded intense reading- and all at the same time. I read so much that they all ran together and my grades were not as good as they could have been had I had a healthier pace. And in all that reading, not a whole lot stood out- but this little poem by Whitman actually did- I underlined it, and I kept the trade book I purchased at the time. I actually still have it after all these years and so many moves. In this little section, Whitman is talking in that intimate way that he talks to his reader- it's personal- it's in the second person- and at that time of my life- it was a very chaotic time to be honest- I had no idea what I was doing in my life, my mother had recently died, I had very little idea what I should do in the future- I had changed directions at the last moment- and these famous words just stood out. Will you read them? 51 The past and present wilt—I have fill'd them, emptied them. And proceed to fill my next fold of the future. Listener up there! what have you to confide to me? Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of evening, (Talk honestly, no one else hears you, and I stay only a minute longer.) Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.) I concentrate toward them that are nigh, I wait on the door-slab. Who has done his day's work? who will soonest be through with his supper? Who wishes to walk with me? Will you speak before I am gone? will you prove already too late? Christy- what did that mean to you. I really have no idea. I think the line that I liked is the line everyone likes, “Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict. Myself.” It just made me feel better. I knew I was full of inconsistencies. And Whitman just seemed to be saying- of course you are- everyone is- to understand that is just being honest. Let it go. Just concentrate on what is near- what you're doing today, supper- that sort of thing. If you're successful- that's great- if you're a failure- what difference does it make- we're all the same atoms, we're all just leaves of grass. He just made me feel okay. Which I guess that would probably have made him happy- the bard of democracy- known as the good gray poet- speaking across time and space about what it means to be a human- to be a leaf of grass. Thanks for listeninging- next episode- we will delve a little more into his adult life, read some of his most famous poems – those tributes to Abraham Lincoln- and finish our discussion of this amazing American. AS always, please share about us with a friend or colleague- push out an episode on your social media feed, text an episode to a friend. Connect with us on our social media at howtolovelitpodcast on facebook, Instagram, twitter, or Linkedin. If you are a teacher, visit our website for teaching materials that provide ideas scaffolding for using our podcasts as instructional pieces in your classroom. Peace out.
Shirley Jackson - The Lottery - Her Most Famous Short Story! Hi, I'm Christy Shriver, and we're here to discuss books that have changed the world and have changed us. And I'm Garry Shriver and this is the How to love Lit Podcast. Today we are finishing up our series on Shirley Jackson. Last week we concluded our discussion of her most famous book, the one that inspired the Netflix series by the same name The Haunting of Hill House. Today we are going to read the short story that made her a household name, “The Lottery.” It has had its share of movie inspiration. Anyone who has seen the opening of The Hunger Games would not be shocked at the plot of “The Lottery.” It's inspired a bunch of other stories and movies besides that one; I think you mentioned the Stephen King one last week. I'm sure there are way more than that if we sat here and thought about it. True, and maybe I shouldn't have been, but I was actually surprised as to how scandalous this story was when it was first published. If we're talking solely about violence, by today's standards, it's mild. There is no blood or gore, it's definitely no Squid Games. I agree- and I believe that is why this story- so deceptively simple and relatively tame- is actually taught in the eight grade in many school systems. It's disturbing for reasons beyond the fact that someone is killed at the end- kiiling a main character is just par for the course in a standard English curriculum- in fact, that's the big joke among English teachers- we don't teach a story if we don't kill someone at the end. “The Lottery” reads and feels so simple. And it is…so why the sensation? Let's talk about the sensation, it's definitely worth noticing how big a stir it actually created. For starters, the story generated more negative letters and subscription cancellations than anything the New Yorker had ever published. Jackson herself received over 300 letters just the summer it was published. In her own words she said this, “I can count only 13 that spoke kindly to me.” I want to point out that her mother, the ever-inspiring Geraldine could be counted on for a comment. She wrote her daughter with this to say, “Dad and I did not care at all for your story…it does seem, dear, that this gloomy kind of story is what all you young people think about these days. Why don't you write something to cheer people up?” Dear Ole' Geraldine- at least she's consistent. But Jackson refused to explain the meaning of the story. She did once tell a journalist, “I suppose I hoped, by setting a particularly brutal rite in the present and in my own village, to shock the readers with a graphic demonstration of the pointless violence and general inhumanity of their own lives, but I gather that in some cases the mind just rebels. The number of people who expected Mrs. Hutchinson to win a Bendix washer at the end would amaze you.” Ha! Well, I don't know how pointless violence and general inhumanity could have surprised anyone in 1948 when it was published. That was right after world war 2, especially the United States, had to stare the reality in the face that we had stood by and turned a blind eye for almost a decade to the atrocities committed by Hitler, and there was no one more cultured or sophisticated than the German people. I guess that's true, but of course…for Americans that was always…over there…we, self-righteously could always claim we were not capable of such things... we after all were the victorious winners in that struggle between good and evil. And yet, Jackson's simple story does seem to be pointing an accusing finger at someone. Yes, I totally think it does, and I do want us to take a different direction than many people who read this story. At first pass, and this is how I've most often heard this story discussed, this is a story that rails against tradition, against not questioning authority, specifically religious authority, against patriarchy…all very easy things to attack and very common in the American canon. Well, not just in the arena of literature either. We've been attacking cultural norms in one form or another since American invented baseball as its own American sports ritual over the sport of the British Empire- football or better known here as soccer. HA! I guess that's true. We also have a way higher tolerance for gore than this story evokes- I mean we were comfortable with the headless horseman and the tell-tale heart. There was something personal about the Lottery that went beyond attacking traditions or killing an innocent victim. I also don't think many of us would cancel our subscription to our favorite media streaming service (which would be the modern day equivalent), or take the trouble to dig up someone's personal address and write them a personal letter if we did not feel personally attacked. “The Lottery” got under people's skins because it was personal. So, that's the question I want to ask? If this story is about pointless violence and general inhumanity, and if I'm offended because I feel personally accused, how? So, let's start- Christy, we talked about if we should read the entire story and then discuss it or if we should stop and start. We've decided to stop and start, but hopefully we won't stop and start too much to be confusing, but just enough to be helpful- a difficult balance to strike. True- Garry- we may fail, but let's give it a go. Let's start with the first three paragraphs and then we'll interrupt. Paragraphs 1-3 What are your thoughts? Well, the thing that strikes me here is tone. Look at the imagery and word choice- it's summer, there is fresh warmth- there are flowers blooming- there's not just grass there's richly green grass- this is the language of birth and beauty. There is also a deliberate attempt to characterize these people as organized and civilized- the lottery is annual, it takes less than two hours, they eat a noon dinner- the children don't gather, they assemble- assemble is a formal word. There is a reference to school. They are being instructed and civilized so to speak deliberately – the word “liberty” is thrown around here. And yet what are they doing, they are stuffing their pockets full of stones- even the very small children. They assemble as family units, the very bedrock of civilization across time and culture- they stand together- united- and for a purpose that is upsetting to no one. Let's read the next four paragraphs and learn about the culture and traditions of this place. Next four paragraphs One funny thing that Jackson does in this story is play around with names. The names are all carefully selected- look at who's conducting all of this, a man by the name of Summers- such a happy name associated with youth, strength, growth, life, all of it. But look at the other guy- Mr. Graves- he also is responsible for making up the slips of paper and putting the names in this black box. It's a pun- a grave is a place where we put a dead body. It also means serious- like if you are in grave danger. The black box one time spent a year in Mr. Graves barn, but that's not the only place it lives. He is not solely responsible for this black box. It's spent a year in the post office and also in a grocery store owned by Mr. Martin. Another thing that people have pointed to is all the possible symbolism in this story. It does seem that this box is a symbol, the three-legged stool is a symbol, the black mark is a symbol, even the stones are symbols. But for what? We should always annotate and follow the symbols, but I usually withhold judgement on what they mean until I've had time to think about the story as a whole. And we've got more names- a lot of names actually. One that showed up earlier, but we didn't address is name Delacroix- we're even told the correct pronunciation of this name- Dela-Croix- as in French for of the Cross Yep- except they mispronounce it- they don't say Delacroix like you're supposed to say it- they say delacroy- a corruption of the original. And that sets up for me another a pattern that I see as you read through all these traditions. Traditions are not fixed- like people think they are. No, They evolve like everything else on planet earth. We keep what we want and discard what we don't like. On my wall, I have a poster that says all behavior is goal- directed- and that goes for entire cultures as well. No matter what we say, our behaviors speak for us- and they are all goal-directed. This is true for traditions as well- be it religious, ethical, or civic. Jackson is very ambiguous about her relationship with religion here. I want to point out that this is not a religious ceremony, and she could have very easily and understandably made it one. Mr. Summers could have been Pastor Summers or Father Summers or Rabbi Summers, but he's not any of these, he's a businessman. I want to suggest what I think here about-that three legged stool- I do think it represents what holds up society in general- three aspects of societal authority or control- religious, civic and commercial- these three legs hold up the black box. They are working together, but none is running the show exclusively. Well, if we're going to guess at symbolism, I want to make a suggestion of my own. Oh-okay- what do you want to suggest? That black box. It's power, it's control. It's black because fear controls. It's dynamic in that it moves. It evolves over time, as power does. It's cloaked in secrecy, it hides behind tradition, but we see that that isn't necessarily true- they went from chips to paper when they wanted to. What they wanted to uphold was the black box of power. I also want to point out that somehow Jackson subtly connects her ritual with this black box and three-legged stool to the harvest, which I found to be a particularly interesting connection. It's a link to survival and it's at the heart of human existence. The ancient Athenians, the Aztecs, the Incans on this side of the world just to name a few, but many cultures have connected human sacrifice to crop fertility. In fact, and this may be a point of irony, if you just look across human history from the Egyptians to the Chinese, what we see is human sacrifice correlates directly with a rise in a more sophisticated culture and social stratification than the other way around, contrary to what Old Man Warner suggests. What do you mean by that? I mean that we can see, historically, as societies got more sophisticated and organized, we saw more and more links to human sacrifice. Well You're right That is counter-intuitive- you would think it would be just the opposite. Of course, closer to home, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, which is what Jackson was most familiar with and what is reflected most obviously in her story, there is a very deep tradition of sacrifice but not human. This story is not a direct attack on Christianity by the way, but there is a lot of Christian imagery here- not just with the name Delacroix or delacroy. There is also the connection with publicly sanctioned and even religiously sanctioned public stonings. This is a ritual we see in the Old Testaman of the Bible, and one we see Jesus referencing directly in the New Testament in the Bible. There is a particular story, one of the more famous stories in the New Testament from the 8th chapter of Saint John where a group of men want to stone a woman because they caught her in the act of adultery. They take her outside; they all gather stones and are ready to murder her when Jesus intervenes. He takes a stick and starts writing something in the sand which we are never told what they are, but he famously says, “He who is without sin cast the first stone.” The men slowly but surely as they read whatever he was writing, dropped their stones and went home. Of course, we don't know what he wrote, I like to think it was the names of their paramours, but that's just me enjoying the irony. The story ends with Jesus looking at the woman and asking where her accusers had gone because by that point there were none left. So, you see that story connecting here- Yep- I do. There are more Christian references too- Mrs. Adams, that's the name of the first man. There is an Eva- and then Old man Warner- his name isn't Biblical but there's a biblical connection. Again, back to Jesus in the New Testament. These Biblical references, btw, are not obscure- these are super-famous passages that every red-blooded American in 1950 would know. In the New Testament there's another story where a follower of Jesus asks Jesus how many times a person was responsible for forgiving another person- the follower offered a suggestion- he said, should we forgive a person seven times- something he finds to be generous- to which Jesus responded- you should forgive a person 70 times 7 – I think what is important about Old Man Warner is not his name but his age- and the link to this archetypal number. What's the connection- I don't think this story is talking about adultery or forgiveness, is it? Not directly, it's talking about values and core values and hypocrisy for sure- and we'll flesh it out when we get to the end, but what I want to point out- is that people have somehow found their value in surviving this tradition. Mr. Warner brags that he's survived 77 of these without getting picked- his importance comes from this. Warner also makes a claim that is literally a great example of a post hoc fallacy- an error in logic which you believe that just because something comes before something it means that thing necessarily causes it- he is literally saying that the harvest comes as a direct result of the lottery. He doesn't invoke any diety for believing this- he just throws it out there. He's resistant to change because he's validated by this social order. Well, I can see why lot's people think this story is about accepting things just because they have always been done. Warner clearly makes that argument. Of course, that's obvious and there- it's just not the heart of the story. I want to bring up one more name before we finish and get to the punch line. The name Tessie Hutchinson- if we look to history there is one Hutchinson woman who stands out- Anne Hutchinson- she showed up in chapter 1 of the Scarlet Letter too- btw- which has a connected theme to this story- but anyway- tell us who this person is- for those less familiar with early American history. Anne Hutchinson- we're going way back now- she was born in 1591- she was banished to the colony of Rhode Island after being excommunicated from Massachusetts bay colony for teaching among other things that women should read and be in leadership but mostly her teachings about the Bible were considered heretical. She ended up being murdered by Indians in 1643. It's a sad ending. She was definitely cast out of the group. So, let's finish reading the story, and see where we land with all these ideas swirling around in our heads. Finish the story Well, Mrs. Hutchinson doesn't win a Bendix washer. You know the psychologist Carl Jung, as you know I like his work, stated that even more or less civilized people remain inwardly primitive. We don't like thinking this, so we can justify with this “mass psyche”. The group becomes the hypnotic focus of fascination and we can allow ourselves to fall into some sort of spell.- that's the word he used. The group experience lowers the level of consciousness like the psyche of an animal so we don't have to take responsibility for our actions on an individual level. It's not a murder if it's a ritual. How could it be? It's sanctioned by the group. And yet, it is murder, isn't. And where I see all of Jackson's ambiguities emerge. Her story can be interpreted so many different ways. For one thing, no one sees any moral conflict. Any psychological explanation for that. I mean they do this every year. Talk aboou the Milgram experiment It's a nameless village, full of tradition, likely corruption, so civilized, so warm, the people were so nice to each other…all the way until Mrs. Delacroix picks up the largest stone she could find with which to pelt her good friend Mrs. Hutchinson. Jackson downplayed her story. In an essay she wrote about it she had this to say, “I had written the story three weeks before being published. The idea had come to me while I was pushing my daughter up the hill in her stroller- it was as I say, a warm morning, and the hill was steep, and beside my daughter, the stroller held the day's groceries- and perhaps the effort of that last fifty yards up the hill put an edge to the story, at any rate, I had the idea fairly clearly in my mind when I put my daughter in her playpen and the frozen vegetables in the refrigerator, and writing the story I foud that it went quicly and easily, moving from beginning to end without pause, I'll skip a little to we get to this line….it was just a story I wrote.” Except it wasn't. It was her lived experience in Bennington. Everyone was so nice to each other; centered on civic contribution, religion, family structure- and yet ready to pelt each other with the largest stone they could find, given the psychological pass to do so with impunity. And that's what made people angry. We are nice people, but we're not kind people. We are civilized, but we are not forgiving. We are religious but our religion has been molded not out of the old sacred texts, but out of the box of power that sits on that three legged stool of our conveniently created social structures remolded over the years as it goes from house to house. We are not good, we are what we always have been- ready not just to hurl that first stone, but ready to bring out children along, get them to fill up their pockets with stones, all on a beautiful summer day. Wow! That hurts. Well, we hope you enjoyed our discussion of one of America's most famous short stories. Next week, we will find the anecdote to such raw exposure to humanity through the writings of another American native son- Walt Whitman and selections from his wonderful masterpiece- Leaves of Grass. We hope you stick around to see what that great American has to say. 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Quizmasters Lee and Marc meet to ask, suss and answer a general knowledge quiz with topics including Art, Planets, Music, Movies, Geography, Languages and more! Round One AIRPLANES - What was the name of Wilbur and Orville Wright's powered aircraft, named for a nearby location where the flight took place in 1903? ART - What French post-impressionist artist was famously living with Van Gogh when he cut off his ear? PLANETS - Which planet has the most moons, with 82 total as of 2021? MUSIC - What band has released such albums as Flick of the Switch, Ball Breaker, and Power Up? GEOGRAPHY - Which is the only U.S. state to share a land border with three Canadian provinces? DOGS - What are the four varieties of poodle, based on size? Round Two MOVIES - What 1988 found both of its stars opting to take 20% of the film's box office returns instead of their usual pay, resulting in the biggest paychecks of their film careers? LANGUAGES - Caribbean country Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten all list what language as an official language? GOVERNMENT AGENCIES - What does FEMA stand for? BREAKING BAD - On Breaking Bad, which book of poetry by Walt Whitman was gifted to Walter by fellow cook and chemist Gale, and later led to Hank figuring out Walt's secret identity? FAMOUS FIRST LINES - "There's no time to be careful, we're late" was the first line said by what cartoon character? PSYCHOLOGY - Which part of the brain, which shares a name with a sea creature from Greek myth, is located deep in the temporal lobe and is responsible for memory and learning? Rate My Question VOCABULARY - What popular word which is an oxymoron and a portmanteau first appeared in print in the title of a 1953 article describes the relationship between America and Russia? VOCABULARY - What is the palindromic term for dots on dice? Final Questions STAR TREK - Despite pushback from their production company's board of directors, which comedian is responsible for funding and producing Star Trek: The Original Series? NAMES - What popular female name was invented by writer Jonathan Swift for Esther van Marie whom Swift had met in 1708 and whom he tutored? Upcoming LIVE Know Nonsense Trivia Challenges November 10th, 2021 - Know Nonsense Challenge - Point Ybel Brewing Co. - 7:30 pm EDT November 11th, 2021 - Know Nonsense Trivia Challegnge - Ollies Pub Records and Beer - 7:30 pm EDT You can find out more information about that and all of our live events online at KnowNonsenseTrivia.com All of the Know Nonsense events are free to play and you can win prizes after every round. Thank you Thanks to our supporters on Patreon. Thank you, Quizdaddies – Issa, Adam V., Tommy (The Electric Mud) and Tim (Pat's Garden Service) Thank you, Team Captains – Mo, Jenny, Rick G., Skyler, Dylan, Shaun, Lydia, Gil, David, Aaron, Kristen & Fletcher Thank you, Proverbial Lightkeepers – Rachael, Rikki, Jon Lewis, Moo, Tim, Nabeel, Patrick, Jon, Adam B., Ryan, Mollie, Lisa, Alex, Spencer, Kaitlynn, Manu, Matthew, Luc, Hank, Justin, Cooper, Elyse, Sarah, Karly, Kristopher, Josh, Lucas Thank you, Rumplesnailtskins – Laurel, A-A-Ron, Loren, Hbomb, Alex, Doug, Kevin and Sara, Tiffany, Allison, Paige, We Do Stuff, Kenya, Jeff, Eric, Steven, Efren, Mike J., Mike C., Mike. K If you'd like to support the podcast and gain access to bonus content, please visit http://theknowno.com and click "Support."
This episode’s reading is a selection called “To Think of Time” from Walt Whitman’s 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass. Describing the writing as “soaring” may seem cliched, but if you listen and allow the words to work their magic you may feel the expansion and uplifting that Whitman strives to transmit as the covering … Continue reading "To Think of Time – Walt Whitman"
"I will never have another vagabonding journey that compares to that first one -- even though I have since traveled to far more exotic parts of the world -- in part because there's something special about embarking on a long-term trip for the first time." --Rolf Potts In this encore episode of Deviate, Rolf and his old friend Jeff Nienaber talk about their 8-month van trip across North America back in 1994, how they prepared for it, and how it differed from current-day #VanLife excursions (5:30); how they exercised on the road, and how the conditions and travel-hacks of van journeys were different for two young men in 1994 (23:30); the route they took through North America, what happened along the way, and how they kept daily journals recounting events (36:00); the experience riding with cops in Houston, celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans, volunteering at a church in Mississippi, meeting girls in Florida, and seeing New York for the first time (51:00); the experience of staying at a Trappist monastery in Massachusetts for one week (1:14:30); visiting National Parks in the American South, Northeast, and West, and memorable books read along the way (1:28:00); and why the trip was life-changing (1:42:00). Van trip preparation and planning links: Digital nomadism (travel lifestyle) #VanLife (travel lifestyle) Composting toilet Blue Highways, by William Least Heat-Moon (1982 book) On the Road, by Jack Kerouac (1957 book) Travels With Charley, by John Steinbeck (1962 book) Vanagon (Volkswagen van) Volkswagen Westfalia (camper van) Trangia (alcohol-burning camp-stove) A (literal) photo album from my 1994 van vagabonding trip (blog post) Links regarding early months of the 1994 trip: 924 Gilman Street (Berkeley punk club) Northridge earthquake (1994 earthquake) "The Mystical High Church of Luck" (Salon essay about Las Vegas) Lollapalooza (music festival) O. J. Simpson murder case (1994 media incident) USCGC Northwind (Coast Guard icebreaker) Bourbon Street (historic street in New Orleans) The Geto Boys, by Rolf Potts (2016 book) Fifth Ward (Houston neighborhood) Cops (TV show) Canton (town in Mississippi) In His Steps (Mississippi Christian outreach ministry) Waffle House (southern restaurant chain) Savannah State (historically black university) Debbie Does Dallas (1978 pornographic film) Tompkins Square (New York park) Trappist monastery experience links: St. Joseph's Abbey (Massachusetts monastery) Trappists (order of Catholic monks) Thomas Merton (Trappist monk and writer) Memento Mori (existential expression) Chant (1994 Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos album) Compline (end-of-day church service) Links regarding the final months of the 1994 trip: Ocala National Forest (protected area in Florida) Shenandoah National Park (Virginia wilderness area) Mount Washington (tallest mountain the northeast U.S.) Arches National Park (Utah wilderness area) Fisher Towers (photogenic cliffs near Moab, Utah) Desert Solitaire, by Edward Abbey (1968 book) Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman (1855 poetry collection) The Razor's Edge, by W. Somerset Maugham (1944 book) Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M Pirsig (1974 book) Uinta National Forest (protected area in Utah) Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming wilderness area) Glacier National Park (Montana wilderness area) Pike National Forest (protected area in Colorado) The Deviate theme music comes from the title track of Cedar Van Tassel's 2017 album Lumber. Note: We don't host a “comments” section, but we're happy to hear your questions and insights via email, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Simplicity is an exact medium of too little and too much – Joshua Reynolds It's become so complex because the world has changed but the rules of running it haven't evolved as quickly?! So, here we all are with the keys to car we haven't learned to drive! But there is wisdom, too, in not trying to figure it all out, living with the questions, the confusion, the complexities of it all. “In the confusion we stay with each other, happy to be together, speaking without uttering a single word.”- Walt Whitman.
Follow Rosie! https://twitter.com/rosiesherryCheck out Rosieland: https://rosie.land/Michele Hansen 0:01 This episode of Software Social is brought to you by Reform.As a business owner, you need forms all the time for lead capture, user feedback, SaaS onboarding, job applications, early access signups, and many other types of forms.Here's how Reform is different:- Your brand shines through, not Reform's- It's accessible out-of-the-box... And there are no silly design gimmicks, like frustrating customers by only showing one question at a timeJoin indie businesses like Fathom Analytics and SavvyCal and try out Reform.Software Social listeners get 1 month for free by going to reform.app/social and using the promo code "social" on checkout.Hey, welcome back to software social. I am so excited this week to have with us the woman the myth, the legend, Rosie Sherry. Hello. So excited to have you. So you were I founder of Ministry of Testing, lead community at Indie Hackers, which is probably how many people listening know you, currently leading community for Orbit. Also have your own thing going on Rosieland, which is a community about community. So excited to talk to you.Rosie Sherry 1:30 Thank you, thank you. It's good to be here.Michele Hansen 1:33 So I want I want to start out with something something I noticed when I think about your background is how you've kind of gone between being a founder yourself, and intentionally working for other people also having sort of other things going on. And, you know, on the show in the past, we've kind of talked a little bit about how sometimes there's this perception that there's this sort of like staircase of an entrepreneurs career where you start out working for other people, and then maybe you have an info product, and then maybe you do consulting, and then you do an info product, and then you have a SAS and then I don't know, and it's like this sort of like staircase. And there's this sort of like implied increase in virtue throughout all of that. And then if you're taking backwards steps, that's seen as like, literally like a step backwards. And it's like this ladder rather than being this kind of what I'm more see in people's actual careers, which is kind of moving between different things as their interests lead them and as their life leads them. I feel like I see that in your career. And I'm kind of curious how you think about these shifts you've made between working for yourself and working for other people? And like, like, kind of all of that.Rosie Sherry 2:45 Yeah, it's kind of like steps going up and down, right? Or going up and down or left, I guess, an elevator? Yeah, I mean, I have like, no idea what I'm doing. But I guess like, I kind of go with the flow. When I when I stepped back from Ministry of testing, I had been doing that for 10 years. And I thought, like, as I was stepping back, I thought I'd never work for someone else's, like my plan was to take some time off and just like, take it easy for it. And just, I don't know, see what I wanted to do. And I knew I kind of wanted to, like focus in on community, but I wasn't sure how. And then, like, the opportunity with indie hackers came up. And I was like, Oh, you know, this could be fun. This could be interesting. I think I could learn a lot from how courtland has built community there. It's similar to ministry testing, in some ways, but yet, it's, it's really different. So I kind of just jumped on that, like, you know, earlier, earlier than I had planned. I was I was a contractor there for the whole time. And I was there for two years as a contractor. And basically, we just kept renewing the contract, like every three to six months. So it wasn't like it was the plan, stay there. And apparently surprised that I stayed there for two years, I thought I wouldn't last I thought I wouldn't be able to kind of work for someone else after like doing my own thing for 10 years. That was interesting. There's a lot of benefit, especially, I think, perhaps more these days where everything just seems I just feel like there's so much opportunity out there. And there's a lot of things that I didn't like about running a business. I didn't necessarily want to manage people, I didn't want to do the accounts, I didn't want to worry about money or worry about, you know, the future of, of the business. So yeah, I mean, this, you know, loads of things about running a business that I think people try to glorify, they try to hide, they try to not talk about it. But you know, it can be stressful. And I think my realization after running the Ministry of testing, is actually I don't, I don't want to run a company and employ people. I don't want to be responsible for someone's wages at the point of life that I that I am in at the moment. might might change over time, but right now Yeah, I'd rather like I guess, do something more for me something more, you know, focusing on, like my interest in things that that I need. And yeah, and I guess like contracting, bringing home a paycheck, that's great. But you know, for me, it's been, you know, it was great, I saved up a bunch of money, I didn't actually spend any of the money that I made in the hackers. So that was like a nice, consistent income for me to like, you know, get our family more and more of a safety net. Now, my Uber and I never, ever considered working for a startup people have it. Yeah, it's, it's new. For me, it's different from me. But this negative, there's a lot of pros as well. So I try to kind of be mindful of all of that. And, you know, there's days, I just want to pack it all in and say, I can't be bothered, I should just go back to being independent. But there are other days where I'm just like, no, this is actually really good. I'm enjoying what I'm doing this, you know, there's a great team that I'm working with. And again, you know, I get paid well, I don't have to worry about money, I don't have to invoice people the money every month in my bank account. And I'm like, Oh, this is nice. This is, you know, this nice not just to show up and do the work.Michele Hansen 6:11 You mentioned how it was stressful, being responsible for people's paychecks. And I totally relate to that. I think it's one of the reasons why we haven't really, you know, formally hired here, right? Like, I have a VA, but you strike me as someone who you know, and this comes through so much in your work for indie hackers in your work on community who like deeply cares about other people, and supporting them and encouraging them and helping them reach their goals, and you know, and be that person they want to be. And I wonder if that almost made it harder to be running a company and responsible for people's income when you felt so responsible for those outcomes and really invested in them as people?Rosie Sherry 6:57 Yeah, I mean, it's actually interesting, because I still own in ministry, testing, or co owner, when you're founded, you kind of like, I guess, the foundation of everything that comes later, to a certain extent. So like, the fact that I worked when I wanted, the fact that I had five kids, the fact that I just like took time off when I needed to the fact that I defined, you know, decided my own hours, all of those things, ended up becoming how things were done administrator testing, and it's become more apparent, I guess, as the team, I think about eight or nine people at the moment, at first, you know, I was only one with kids. And, you know, I was very much family friendly person, I would support, you know, everything about me is like, we need to live our own lives as well. We need to have flexibility, you know, work shouldn't stop us having having a family and doing things that we want to do. And at first, it was like, just me it was kids. But then like, as the years have gone, I think last year, there were three new babies born within the company, and as a team with like nine people that's like, oh, wow, how are we gonna manage this as like, as a company, even though it's not my responsibility anymore. There's a CEO running it. But he very much took on the philosophy of like, well, this is how Rosie has always done it. So this is what everybody else gets to do as well. So we let the mothers choose what they want to do. We let them you know, take the time off that they need to take time off, and have a say, and there's no there's no judgment for any of it. And we listen, and we care and we try to make good decisions, even even if it costs us money, right. And like, as a small company, and you have three of your people off on maternity leave is a big kind of hit. But it's not something that feels wrong, it very much feels right and like allowing everybody just to choose the time that they have off and pay in the world. And you know, making sure that they get a fair deal when they're often on maternity leave is to me, you know, I couldn't do it any other way. Because it would feel hypocritical. And for me, it's just like, I can't have once that rule to me and like different set of rules for For everyone else, even if I never took maternity leave properly. I believe like, you know, everybody else should have had that right to do that. I guess.Michele Hansen 9:20 It sounds like a bit like Golden Rule management, like treating others as how you would want to be treated.Rosie Sherry 9:26 Yeah, I don't understand why companies can't do that. can't comprehend it. And it's probably why I haven't. It took me I guess it's probably why it took me a long time to actually end up working for other people. Because without listen to the pandemic, because just like nobody was truly flexible enough in their thinking about how people showed up for work. And I've been working from home all this time on my own rolls, and then the pandemic comes along and I'm just like, still working the same way that I was working before. This ain't nothing changed for me day to day, but for everyone else. Or, you know, like a huge majority of people, life change and companies rethought their processes and what was acceptable and what wasn't acceptable. And the fact that we can all work from home now I think is is great, but at the same time is unlike Well, why couldn't we do this before we could have. But companies, you know, I guess like it wasn't urgent enough to think of our needs until the pandemic came along.Michele Hansen 10:26 And, you know, you mentioned how your life didn't change all that much with the pandemic. Yeah, I want to detour for a second because I understand that so you have five children, and you unschool them and it would just be interesting for a moment just to talk about not only what does that look like but also you know, you mentioned your whole life didn't change much. And I'm kind of curious what does that home life look like between you and your husband with this sort of unschooling elements layering on top of also like your, your work life? Like how does all of that work together?Rosie Sherry 11:02 Yeah, it's tough. I think like unschooling, I think the toughest part about unschooling, I think is, or even homeschooling is about making that kind of adjustment to life, like trying to instead of like, you know, if if kids go to school, you know, you have the six, eight hour block of time to kind of get work done and you can plan things around that with unschooling is like, well, you kind of have to plan for your kids. And then you have to plan your work around your kids, and you have to juggle things. With me, it's with my husband, we like have equal share on like, the kids in the house. And I just think that's the hardest part is like most people, probably, I guess I feel I feel privileged to be able to do that at the moment. But like, I guess, like, the thing I do is like, we're having this chat for me, it's in the morning. And that's like, not my normal schedule. So the like, normally like I'm online from midday till eight, and I'm with my kids from when they wake up until midday. And then at midday, me my husband swapped over. And that's those are the, that's the deal we have right now, to make things work. And so, in the morning, I would normally take my kids to a class that they have or a group that they go to, and it works, I guess, to try and to split that time, it changes all the time as as my work changes, or as my husband's work changes, we find ways to adapt and I guess that's the magic of unschooling, I guess like unschooling is like, we're always, I guess, we're always looking for things that our kids want to do to keep them active. So every day, especially our younger ones, who are between the age of three and 10. You know, getting them out out the house once a day is like basically our goal. And that happens in different ways at the moment, except for school, beach school, art class, sports, or football. And then other days that we hire, or we pay a friend to take them out for the day. She's like a single mom, and appreciates extra bit bit of income. It's tough, it really is tough. And it's like we have to say no to things a lot of the time, but I think at the same time, I think like the pandemic has kind of worked in my favor as well. Now that everyone's online, I feel like what's the right word? I guess previous to the pandemic, I felt like I was only one needing to have the flexibility. But I think like these days, it's it's more more acceptable. I guess, everyone's more accommodating, like having kids in the background is okay. Pre pandemic, that was not okay. You know, stuff like that, you know, despite COVID I appreciate how the world has changed. We feel it feels weird. I don't know. What do you think it feels? It feels weird to? Yeah, to say that. But I think you know, actually, there's been positives from COVID.Michele Hansen 13:57 I think it's forced us to reevaluate things and maybe shifts that were happening very slowly, like you mentioned, you know, more work from home and maybe more flexibility shifts that were happening very, very slowly, or only in very specific corners of the economy were kind of thrust on everyone all at once, which was both traumatic and also sped up things that needed to happen to at the same time at great cost to everyone involved, Beto as you said, like, you know that it's acceptable to have children in the background or even a dog barking, like I remember two years ago, you know, before COVID, and I was having a call and my dog barked in the back because the mailman was there or whatever. Like, I always felt so embarrassed on the call. And, you know, I remember sometimes, you know, the people, you know, whoever I was having a, you know, customers having call with, or one of them being like, Oh yeah, you know, we have a dog friendly office too. And I was just like, Yeah, like, dog friendly office, you know, that whole thing of like being a really small company and not wanting? Yes, I'm actually like working from home like that being kind of like something to be sheepish about, you know, like that you were working from home because it was like, What? Like, can you not afford an office? Are you not legit enough to have an office? Like, do you not like it used to prompt so many questions, most of them not very, like, positively reflecting on the company. But then all of a sudden, you know, so many of us, you know, who were lucky enough to be working from home, everybody was working from home, everybody, you know, had kids in the background dogs in the background cats on their keyboard, like, you know, and we all just had to learn how to be a little bit more understanding with one another.Rosie Sherry 15:41 Well, human right, I think like, we, we've learnt to appreciate and see that we all live in different circumstances, and we should adapt to that, and we should make sure it's okay. You know, almost like, I guess, like, the whole diversity movement, I guess, in the past few years is, you know, crept up. And, you know, to me, this is also like, part of it is like, we're all human, we're all people, we have different circumstances, that the sooner we can make that, okay for everyone to just like, be who they are opt in, opt out things, be able to, you know, not have shame for, for whatever it might be, I think like, the better the quicker, we can just like, move on and like, kind of focus on our work and get and get things done.Michele Hansen 16:38 Using shame, just there kind of reminded me of what we sort of started this conversation with, which is, you know, in your career, you have sort of intentionally and consciously moved between contracting and, and being a founder and working for other people. And when people come to a situation where they realize that maybe consulting isn't working for them, or they're trying to get their own SAS off the ground, and it's not working, and the finances are tight, and they're thinking about, you know, going out and getting a job. Yeah, it seems like people often feel a lot of shame around that. And then that feels like failure to them. And I think what your story shows that, you know, it's not linear. And, and I'm just kind of curious what you would say to someone who is kind of maybe at that point, who is wondering, you know, just, you know, that thing, things aren't, things aren't working, or the finances aren't there. And they've they've got to go back and, you know, get a job, like, what would you say to them?Rosie Sherry 17:56 I definitely felt this, like in the indie in the indie world, like, being immersed in that world. And, you know, people want to make it they want to be full time, indie hackers. And it almost becomes, like, a thing of like, what if you're not a full time indie hacker, then, like, you know, you're not a success really are there's only one way. And, you know, I almost, you know, thought that, you know, I thought even just like working in India, because I thought I wouldn't last I thought, you know, people, you know, I wouldn't make an impact. I wouldn't enjoy working with courtland, or all that kind of stuff. And even even when I joined indie hackers, the opportunity came up as a result of courtland looking for some social media help. And I was just like, at that point, I was just looking for something else to do. And like when I reached out to him, he was like, Yeah, but you're overqualified for this. I was like, Yeah, I know. But I'm, you know, I'm still like, yeah, I could do it. And, you know, I, I personally felt like I could learn from indie hackers. And that role ended up being more like of a community manager community lead role that he that he offered me. But did I feel shame, like doing that a little bit, but at the same time, as I, it doesn't matter, you know, I need to, you know, I really wanted just to have an excuse to do something else. And so yeah, I work for CEO, founder to social media and community manager, which is a step back, right? You know, on paper, it's a step back. But actually what it did for me was was huge, is like, before I joined India, because no one in the indie world really knew who I was. There's a few people here in there. But what it did for me was was massive. So I say I think a lot of the time choices, I guess, perhaps is that it's not all about money. It's not all about job titles. And we can dismiss job titles is not important. That's, you know, I think sometimes they can be but I think I think, if we think about, or like, the way I think about it is like, well, I want to do stuff, I want to learn stuff, and I want to work on things I care about. And does it matter if it's starting your own thing? or working for someone else? I don't think it really does. I think, at least for me, it's like, you know, five, finding, finding the right people to work with is, is key. And yeah, I mean, there's a lot of jobs that I'm sure would be sucky. And I see I definitely see people struggle, working for companies and being like, part indie part, like, working for companies. So yeah, I don't think like anything is necessarily Perfect. Perfect solution. But I guess it's like more about like, finding your fit what's right for you? How do you get to do the work that you do? Enjoy? How are you growing personally? And, like all, but I think I'm growing a lot personally. And also in, in my, I guess, desire to kind of impact the community world, I think I'm doing that. And I get access to stuff that I wouldn't, if I was trying to do all, all of that kind of stuff on my own. So yeah, there's definitely like, the pros and cons. So yeah, but but it's easy to think because when I joined, obey, it was at the back of my mind is that oh, my God, what will people think? I've been indie for, for 15 years. You know, should I actually take this job? Is it is it in conflict with, with who I am? Those are all that was definitely in the back of my mind, I can't, I won't lie about that. Yeah, I was nervous about announcing that. I'm not sure what people would think. But I think, at the end of the day is like, I'm still sticking to, to who I am, I'm still sticking to my values, I'm still pushing for the things that are important to me in all of it. And if I don't get those, and it's going to become a problem. You know, say, I'm still being me, in every, every space that I show up. And, and that's what's important to me, is that, and if I can't get that, then that's where it becomes a problem. For me, I think, Patrick, my boss,Michele Hansen 22:52 I noticed that you just said how you had this conflict around identity. And I feel like that's running undercurrent of a lot of time when people are having this struggle, is identifying as a founder, and all of the things that come with it, identifying as an indie hacker, identifying as someone who, you know, runs their own things and whatnot, and shifting identity into something else into, into, you know, who am I if I am not somebody who runs their own company? What does that say about me? Just who am I as as a person, I think in a world where we wrap up so much of our identity and what we do for work. That's a, that's a massive and can be quite a, you know, debilitating sort of shift and psychological process to go through. And yet what I also heard you say several times throughout the, the conversation is a reason why you took the job with indie hackers, or the contract with indie hackers, is because you wanted to learn and, and I wonder if that transition is a little bit smoother. When you think of, you know, there's you have this identity as an indie hacker, as a founder, you also have an identity as someone who likes to do other things. And one of those, I think, for you that really comes through is somebody who's curious, and who likes to learn and letting another identity almost kind of supplant that, that founder, one that's sort of, you know, taking a backseat.Rosie Sherry 24:40 Yeah, it's interesting. It actually brings me back to like minister testing and like when I stepped back, it was like, Oh my god, like, Who am I? Who am I going to be now I've been this testing person, this person, leading the testing community for so long. I'm almost leaving behind. And much of that, obviously they I still keep in touch with people, but I'm not in that world anymore. Yeah, it was, it was hard, it's hard to shift away from that and to figure out how to how to kind of redefine your life and who you want to be. And how do you get people to, I guess, to see that to know that and, and yeah, it's, it's tough and I guess like, right now with the indie stuff like, you know, I do Rosi land stuff on the side. But even that, I feel like oh, you know, I see a lot of the indie stuff happening, I still keep an eye on indie hackers. But, you know, at the same time I miss in the hacking as well, I don't do nearly as much as I would love. And, you know, I struggle with that. So it's like, how much of these different people can I be? How do I? How do I separate that? Do I need to separate that? And I mean, I was I was employed over it was no full well, knowing that I had all this stuff on the side. And that that had to continue to exist when I joined over it. But yeah, I feel like I definitely feel less a part of the indie world. Because just because I don't have the time to spend in it. And that makes me feel sad. Definitely sad. And I want to do more, but I can't just because because of time. But yeah, I don't even know where I'm going with this. But this constant shift of identity moving on, almost like shedding skin. All right, is that I shed my skin from history testing. I'm shedding my skin a bit from indie hackers, but not quite. And, you know, moving through life, I think, like, I think we almost become different people as we grow up. I mean, I think I'm in my early 40s now, and am I the same person? I was 10 years ago. So yes, but no. And that's okay. Yeah, I don't even know where I'm going. But yeah.Michele Hansen 27:31 It's interesting you say that I love how you dove into the identity shifts of that. And you're like, so even though you're no longer with, you know, indie hackers proper. I still think of you as the mama bear. The indie world is my head but like that's, that's it's you know, Rosie, Sherry mama bear of the indie hackers.Rosie Sherry 27:59 Well, I like that. I'll have to put that on my Twitter. But it's interesting, right? People will always remember you for different things. So there'll be people from the testing community who will always remember me for ministry testing, and things I did, and nothing will probably change as much in a ton of indie hackers out there will remember me as being the mom of their I love it. Yeah, and like, the more I do all of it, orbit, the more people associated me not with being indie, but being more all about community. And that's okay, as well. Right? And what does it mean is that, I don't know. But But I think like, I mean, you know, I guess it goes back to trends, life, the world changing, no one has careers for life anymore. And this is you know, probably I guess a proof of it is like, let's, you know, change as we grow, let's be okay with, like, actually discovering things. As we learn about ourselves, and as we learn about the world around us, and, and adapt and we should Yeah, I think we should all be able to do that and make make it feel okay. And make it you know, not not feel like step backwards, is you know, it's not a step backwards. It's just like, as you as an individual, you you're doing what's what's right for you at any point in your life. And that's, you know, that's okay.Michele Hansen 29:45 I'm reminded of the Walt Whitman, quote, I contain multitudes and, and I feel like what you're saying is, is about that we have many different identities and even the identities of us in other people's minds may be different than what we think of ourselves as or reflects a version of us in the past. And, you know, you're that that identity that you had as a founder, the identity you had, as the community person for indie hackers. As rosy land, as community person at orbit, like, all of those are valid, and they all exist, regardless of you know, what you're currently we're doing. And I feel like, what you're saying is, you don't really have to choose one, you know, you can still you can still have all of those pieces and so many more pieces of yourself. And, and it's okay to shift and change and grow.Rosie Sherry 30:54 No, think like, as as, I guess, like an unschooling approach to things we encourage, everything we do is like child led learning. And, like, I live that, that same philosophy in life is like, you know, I think like, like, as I get older, I just, I just can't spend any time on anything I don't enjoy. And then when I look at my kids, I'm like, why should they have to spend any time on the things that they don't enjoy, we should, like, you know, focus, focus all our energy as much as is possible to do the things that we love, because that's, that's like a really special place to be. And, like, at the moment, like, like, you know, I've been working for 23 years of my life, when I started out, working. Man, it was just like, a different place. And like, where I am, now, I'm like, this is just such a better place to be doing work that, that I love that I appreciate that, that, you know, I believe I can have impact on. And if I look back at myself, like 20 years ago, and see see where I am now, I say, I would have like, I guess, never, never imagined that this kind of life is possible. The life I had then was about working in jobs that I didn't really enjoy that much, or for companies that I wasn't really, that interested in what they were doing. And now it's like, everything's flipped to like, I'm working for a company that I believe in what they're doing, I enjoy the day to day work, we're aligned in the things that we want to do. And that's just like, Whoa, you know, how, you know, how great is that, to be a part of that. And regardless of the outcome, whether, you know, I continue to rise up in the company where they continue to get pay raises, whether whether orbit ends up, you know, growing massively in IPO, and that that doesn't matter. To me, it's like what matters is, you know, being able to do do what I love, right now.Michele Hansen 33:22 Follow the things you love, even if those things take you from entrepreneurship, to working for other people and changing your identity. And, yeah,Rosie Sherry 33:34 I look at Patrick, my, one of the cofounders I see some of the things that he has to do as a founder. And I'm like, I'm so glad I'm not doing that. And like I can see it as the founders because like, not not to the same extent, you know, they've raised money, it's a different game. But you know, that the same principles applies, like, I don't have to do any of that stuff. And I'm very happy about that.Michele Hansen 34:03 It sounds like you're in a good place. Now. I want I want to thank you for for joining us today. You know, we again, in this sort of indie world, we talk a lot about building in public and you know, I talked about writing in public. But something I am really valuing lately is when people are willing to be vulnerable in public. And I feel so much from that of that from you. And not only in on on Twitter, and your support of other people, but also here today. And, and I have a feeling that your story today is it's gonna make somebody at least one person feel feel less alone and feel feel better about their journey. Hopefully you know, less shame about Going from entrepreneurship to employment?Rosie Sherry 35:06 I hope so. I hope so. I try. I think it's, it's hard, I guess. I mean, I don't know what your experiences but like women in tech when in business, whether it's like, I guess it's hard to stand up to certain things and be open about the challenges that we have. And so yeah, I try my best, I think my confidence increases over time. I will say, I don't give a damn anymore, like what people think. I don't know if that comes of age. But like, you know, I definitely wasn't this open about everything before. So, yeah, part of me like does it to, to help other people see, I think it's important, like, who I am a woman, five kids on schooling. I kind of want to show people that. Yeah, yes, I'm a bit obsessive with the things that I want to do. I'm, like, you know, switched on, like, all the time, pretty much. But But I spend lots of time with my kids as well, you know, I managed to make it work. And I guess that my hope is that in time, like more people can be like this, if that's what they choose, you know, if they, if they can see the possibility. You know, it's done me a lot of good. And I guess, like, there must be more people out there that want something like this. And for them to be able to see an example. I guess is, is what's in the back of my mind when I tweet when I write when I do my things? Yeah. Yeah. Well, thank you. Yeah,Michele Hansen 36:59 thank you so much for yesterday. I've really enjoyed this conversation.Rosie Sherry 37:05 Thank you, Michelle. I appreciate catching up.Michele Hansen 37:08 If you enjoyed this episode, please let Rosie and I know on Twitter. You can find us at software social pot. Thanks
Of all the WW2 spies who stole atomic secrets from the Manhattan Project, none were as successfully, or as unassuming as George Koval. He was a kid from Iowa who played baseball, and loved Walt Whitman's poetry. But he was also from a family of Russian immigrants who spent years in the Soviet Union in the 1930s and was trained as a spy for the proto-KGB. A gifted science student, he enrolled at Columbia University, and befriended the scientists soon to join the Manhattan Project. After being drafted into the US Army, George used his scientific background and connections to secure assignments at the most secret sites of the Manhattan Project—where plutonium and uranium were produced to fuel the atom bomb. Unbeknownst to his friends and colleagues, for years George passed top-secret information on the atomic bomb to his handlers in Moscow. The intelligence he provided made its way to the Soviet atomic program, which produced a bomb identical to America's years earlier than U.S. experts had expected. No one ever suspected George. George eventually returned to the Soviet Union—his secret identity was known only to top intelligence officials and his story was only brought to light after the fall of the USSR. He escaped without a scratch, was never caught, and the story remains little known to this day. To get into this story is today's guest Ann Hagedorn, author of SLEEPER AGENT: The Atomic Spy in America Who Got Away We delve into his psychologyshowing the hopes, fears, and beliefs that spurred Koval's decisions, and how he was able to integrate himself so completely into the ideology and culture of the United States.
A reading of excerpts from the correspondence, notebooks, and interviews, with Walt Whitman; and a handful of excerpts from letters and memoirs of W. B. Yeats. For being such different poets, there's an awful lot of overlap, and it seems significant to include them in the same episode. The passage from Whitman can be found in the appendices of Gary Schmidgall's edition of Whitman's poems; the quotations from Yeats can be found in the first volume of R. F. Foster's biography of Yeats. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to email@example.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will remove the episode immediately. --- Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/support
This week we are honoured to talk to globally acclaimed author, poet, screenwriter and Booker prize winner Ben Okri OBE! Ben has won numerous awards and honorary doctorates for his fiction and poetry and is considered one of the foremost African authors of the modern era. We talked to Ben about the meaning of being, the character of Walt Whitman, the idea of comfort reading and the importance of reading to our humanity.BOOKSDaisy Buchanan - InsatiableDaisy Buchanan - CareeringBen Okri - The Famished RoadBen Okri - Every Leaf a HallelujahMarcel Proust - Swann's WayMarcel Proust - In the Shadow of Young Girls in FlowerMarcel Proust - The Guermantes WayMarcel Proust - Sodom and GomorrahMarcel Proust - The PrisonerMarcel Proust - The FugitiveMarcel Proust - Time RegainedPlato - The RepublicAristotle - Complete WorksHomer - The OdysseyHomer - The IliadAna Sampson (Ed) - WonderStendahl - La Chartreuse de ParmePaul Zweig - Walt WhitmanWalt Whitman - Leaves of GrassOlivia Laing - The Lonely CityTS Eliot - The Waste LandAlbert Camus - The Plague See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Napoleon picked up the crown with his sword. Who really runs America? The Deep State has destroyed our democracy. Subjects, not citizens. Notes on the indispensability of President Trump. The unique set of skills. Excerpts from Trump's massive rally in Iowa last night. Analogizing Trump with the persecuted Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar. Is it finally making sense? Walt Whitman on the "roughs" of America. Jon Voight on faith. Tucker Carlson and Glenn Greenwald discuss the Deep State. Getting to the central point of our predicament. Plus, notes on JD Vance and the struggles of Southwest Airlines. Let's Go Brandon! With Listener Calls. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Hi, I'm Christy Shriver and we're here to discuss books that have changed the world and have changed us. And I am Garry Shriver and this is the How to Love Lit Podcast. This week and next we will have two poetry supplements. After talking about one of the worst romances in literature- we will switch to one of literature's greatest love stories- the romance of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning- although you would never guess it after reading the poem we are doing today- My Last Duchess- a very twisted poem. You know, Christy, now that I think about it, there's not really a lot of great love stories that we've read. So many of them end poorly- Romeo and Juliet comes to mind- but even the real life stories aren't all that awesome. I can't say I'm all that impressed with the love story of Mary Shelley and Percy Shelley. No, I should think not. I wouldn't think Petrarch or Lauuuura define true love either- although Petrarch sure got a lot of mileage out of their non-relationship. No, Hester and Dimmesdale didn't end well. Or William Butler Yeats and Maud Gonne Now that you mention it, whether we're talking about characters or writers- there's quite a bit of tragedy involved. You're right- but of course, doesn't great love tragedies produce great art- look no farther than the new hit song by Selena Gomez about her disasterous relationship with Justin Bieber. “Lose You to Love Me” debuted at number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed on the chart for 23 weeks- hittint it number one. And it was number 1 on Itunes as well. Of course, Justin Bieber has milked that relationship or should I say, all of their break ups over the years, as well. Well, xometimes things do go right- there's hope for the Noras and Torvalds out there. HA! So, let's introduce at least one love story that went right…Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Except, if you want to know the love-story part, you'll have to stick around for one more episode. We're going to start with this episode by discussing Robert Browning and his most nefarious villiian in “My Last Duchess” and then we'll look at Elizabeth and her infectious love sonnets- and that's when we'll get into their personal story. Great, so Robert Browning, what I find unusual about Robert Browning is that there is nothing unusual about Robert Browning. I'm so used to all of these British poets and their colorful lives, but he's kind of a non-scandalous person, well- if you don't count the part about his elopement with Elizabeth, of course. Indeed, and that is just how he liked it- perhaps a man of his time. Let me back us by introducing him as part of the Victorian Age- that glorious period of English history where Britain held the position of world leadership- I guess somewhat like we think of as belonging to the United States today. Just for clarification- The Victorian period is considered somewhere around 1837-1900. Oh yes- I should have said that. Not talking about literature, Garry, what stands out about this period of time. Well, there's a lot- it was an incredible period and Queen Victoria was incredibly popular. When you say Victorian England, a lot comes to mind- both good and bad- but the first thing that comes to my mind, and please bear in mind that I'm American, so there's the disclaimer- we're always talking about impressions from this side of the Atlantic, but the first thing that comes to mind is just the incredible amount of material progress- there was unequaled production of goods- England was well on the front end of the Industrial Revolution. There was a lot of innovation, a growing middle class- but then again on the flip side- with that there's all the social problems that go with material progress. Things that we think of Charles Dickens writing novels about- street children, dirty pollution from coal- the sort of things we've talking about in other episodes like when we talked about where the Bronte sisters grew up or William Blake's Chimney Sweepers- and these problems are the things that lots of people but specifically a lot of writers were concerned about and commenting on. John Ruskin famously said, “that the real test of a community is not how much wealth it is producing but what kind of people it is producing” and of course he's right about that. It was something that would take years to sort out- finding the moral balance between production and exploitation- something every society wrestles with and always will. Well, the Brownings, surprisingly, weren't really a part of that protest movement, to be honest- and the reason I say that is because for a big chunk of time, in fact, their entire married life, they lived in Italy. Didn't Ibsen live in Italy, and Keats lived in Italy- Italy seems to be responsible for a lot of great English language writing. Ironically, that's true. Well, getting to the Brownings, Robert Browning grew up in Camberwell, at the time, a suburb of London. He was the only son of a fairly affluent family. He was the product private tutoring, world travel, and a lot of what today we would call privilege. None of this made him a famous poet though. It wasn't for lack of trying. I was impressed to see how supportive his family was to the point of paying for his work to get published. I was also impressed by how bumpy his start was. It seems his work was not well-received initially, and in fact was met with a bit of mean-spirited extremely embarrassing criticism. John Stuart Mill said that Browning was parading and I quote a “morbid state” of self-worship after he published his first poem named “Pauline” when he was 21. Yeah- that seems meat to me, and maybe would have wiped me out too, but in his case, Browning reacted to those criticisms of his early work in a positive kind of way. I find it clever, actually, and this stylistic change altered the course of his career. He swore off confessional writing- the kind that'spersonal- and instead modified from the kind of writing he had done in the poem “Pauline” and turned to what today, he is has become famous for- the dramatic monologue. Exactly- now Christy, I think we've mentioned these before, but what is a dramatic monologue and more importantly, why should we care? Thank you for asking exactly the question I wanted to answer! Ha! It's like you didn't ask me to ask you. Well, there is that- hahaha- anyway, let me start by saying that the reason most people don't like poetry in general is because they think it doesn't make a lot of sense. It doesn't SAY anything. And I realize, we high school English teachers, likely share part of the blame for this dislike of the genre. More than one teacher, myself included I'm sure, have droned on and on about things that are fairly boring. I remember a few years ago, and this is a tangent, but it's stayed with me. Anyway, it was a junior English class and I started the class by saying something like, “Today, students, we are going to explore some of the key features of American Romanticism and then some of the greatest hits”- to which a kid from the back row rapid fire responded- with “And that is why I got up and came to school this morning”. It made me laugh because this particular boy, an athlete, could not think of an introduction to anything more boring than what I had just described…although, in fairness, American Romanticism is NOT boring…but I digress. Ha!! I'm sure you changed his mind about the writings of Edgar Allan Poe and Walt Whitman. Well, of course I did. HA! But where I'm heading is that- when we think of poietry as being boring. We often are thinking about confessionals – people whining about their lives, their loves, getting in their feelings for the wrongs life has brought upon them- that sort of thing. For most of us- that is not the purpose of reading. We think of writing as a form of communicating information, and reading as a form of gathering information. The problem with a poem is that it has no information. And so the natural reaction to it is the very honest question- why am I reading this? But we shouldn't read poetry like we would read an article on Snap Chap or a newspaper editorial. Instead, we should judge it with a very intuitive criteria- did I learn something, did it make me laugh or cry, was it unexpected, did it change my mind? That sort of thing? But isn't learning or gathering information a large part of what writing is about? Well, of course that's true- but it isn't a very good way to read poetry because if you do it that way you just can't enjoy it- what makes great poetry is not the transmission of information at all. What makes great poetry is the exact same thing as what makes great plays or great novels or great music- they voice ideas about the world- they spotlight things we experience, things we've seen but have not articulated, things we've noticed but have not thought. Great poems are not about the poet at all- they are about us- the reader. They are about our experiences in the world- they are about understanding the people and the emotions that populate our world. And then we are no longer alone in our world- even from 100 years ago, there was a guy who knows somebody like I know. And Robert Browning did this sort of thing extremely well. And I want to explain how all of this works. Sounds good. One thing we have to always keep in our minds about a poem is that the speaker is not the author. In other words the poem may be in the first person, but that doesn't mean we are to understand that the speaker is writing about himself. Example, a poem may say “I love chopped onions” and the poet actually hates them, but the speaker of the poem can say I love chopped onions because this speaker is his own separate character totally apart from the poet. And in this world that has been created, the speaker likes chopped onions. This is, of course, true for plays as well, we know that Nora is not Ibsen , nor is Torvald. But when we read poetry, we slip into the habit of thinking the poet is writing about his or her own life- that it's ocnfessional. And although, that's sometimes true, and it was true for the poems we're going to read by Elizabeth next- it's not necessarily true- in fact, I would argue- it's mostly not true. So, that brings us to dramatic monologues. In the dramatic monologue, especially Browning's, it is extremely apparent that the speaker is NOT the poet. Browning wants to make it very clear he is not using dramatic monologues as a masking technique to talk about himself. Instead, he uses this poem, My Last Duchess, to explore something really twisted in humanity- and although, I doubt many of us know a guy as twisted as this guy from this poem- he doesn't sound unrelatable. As we read the monologue, Browning pushes forth a really aggressive commentary on how people treat each other, but he does it with a sort of ironic detachment. He can entertain us as well as comment on how humans behave towards each other because he's not talking at all. He will allow the twisted character to just talk and through this guy's, own confessions, he tell us information about himself, his view of the world, his behaviors and from there we are enabled to actually judge for ourselves how nuts this guy is, and then we can extrapolate people we may have met who are kind of like this, or maybe even really like this. Well, I have to say, as a student of psychology, My Last Duschess, is one of the more psychologically twisted characters and fascinating characters I've read about since we've started this podcast. The inordinate level of hubris Browning expresses through this duke makes most egomaniacs we know look small time. True- but although none of us go to dinner parties expecting to see pictures of dead wives behind curtains, we may know someone we also find to have an absurd level of vanity disproportionate to their accomplishments or essence- that hints at this level of hubris. That to me is how this poem connects to A Doll's House, Torvald Helmer, but in his middle class suburban way expresses this unusual degree of possessiveness that we see blown up in a Renaissance setting. Torvald doesn't seem like the kind of guy who would murder his wife, but he most certainly has reduced her to a work of art, a treasure- something comparable to a portrait on a wall to be brought out and admired, but then put back on the shelf- that portrait better not exercise any sort of will of her own- and if she knows what's best- try to stay mostly quiet and unsmiling towards strangers. So, in case, you are unfamiliar with the poem and I've confused you, let me introduce you to the speaker of Browning's poem. The speaker in this poem is an Renaissance Italian Duke- a extremely wealthy man, who's pedigree includes a 900 year old name. Garry, was the guy in the poem a real person or totally something Browning made up entirely in his head. Interesting you should ask that because as you know, I've always thought that writers write from their experience or what they know- but in the case of this particular poem- if this is an actual person- I'm not really sure we can say that it is. We do know that Browning was well traveled and in 1838 spent two months in Northern Italy studying Italian history and legends. This poem seems to be set somewhere in that area- there's a lot of scholarship to say maybe the town of Ferrara which, for those of us less familiar with Northern Italy, think of it as North of Florence but South of Verona or Venice. This may or may not be the right town or the right Duke, but it's an interesting hypothesis that the Duchess in the story could be Lucrezia, Cosimo de Medici's younger daughter who was married to Alfonso of the Este family. She supposedly died of tuberculosis, but Alfonso showed no interest in her as a wife- to the point that he left three days after their wedding in Florence without his new bride for France. He didn't even see Lucretia for the next two years. When he did come back to Ferrara, he sent for his wife, she moved to Ferrara and a year later, barely 17 was found dead. It could have been tuberculosis, it could have been poisoning, we all know the Renaissance is famous for a disproportionate share of people being poisoned to death including a few members of the DE Medici family, and of course, Catherine de Medici was famous herself for poisoning people. I saw that in the tv series, Reign. Well, getting back to our Duke, what about this Duke from Ferraro, Alfonso the Second, what kind of guy he- does he match the profile of someone who might poison his wife? That's a good question. It seems he was something of a jerk. Historians, and let me quote one, called him an “immoderately arrogant and conceited, and prided himself beyond measure upon his bravery, intelligence, and ancient descent. With all that he was vengeful and ever ready to pursue a feud.” So, there you have that commentary, it seems a possibility- but of course, as we will see as we read the poem, Christy, are we even sure the Duke in the Last Duchess murders his wife? Renaissance murderers were kind of mysterious like that- you just never knew. I guess so, before we get out of the history part and start reading the poem, let me ask one more question. In this poem, the Duke keeps a portrait of his murdered wife behind a curtain so he can admire her and show her off when he wants to, is there a portrait of Lucrecia that we know of today that might have inspired this poem? Or is there a painter called Fra Pandolf- the name of the painter in the poem? Do we know of any emissaries that would have been representing the would be the next duchess- the one to follow the Last Duchess? Is there any historical evidence based on the clues from the poem that any of the other characters were real people? Well yes and no- the first hurdle in definitely declaring this poem to be about Lucretia de Medici- is that There is no such painting that we know of, and there is no such famous painter as Frau Pandolf. But, if we just assume that there might have been but it's just gone to history, and we work on the assumption that the Last Duchess is Lucrezia de medici, that means the second wife would have to be Barbara of Austria. There's a long story there, their marriage only lasted 8 years before she died. She was most famous for her work with destitute young girls and even founded a house for them. After she died, Alfonso married a third time, this time to Margherita, the 15 year old niece of his wife Barbara of Austria. Well, whether this is the guy or not, he does seem to be creepy enough to fit the bill. I think so. And honestly, it doesn't matter. This stuff is just interesting stuff to discuss at Trivia night. I agree, I've read enough Machiavelli to know that the Renaissance boys were not above poisoning people for most anything- and that isn't even the point. Browning doesn't tell us who it is maybe because it's a composite of a couple of people, maybe it's because it's a totally made up person, but I think because in a more important sense, this is metaphorical- this Duke is a metaphor of a familiar ego- one a reader of Ibsen might latched on to, one we can all latch on to. And yes, this is a poem about objectifying women again, and this is why we chose to feature it this week, but honestly, if you think about it= the metaphor of the ultimate egoist s person so stupid and delusional that he sees himself as the Neptune in his world is not far fetched. Ah- no- I'd say- look no farther than a twitter feed. Shall we read, Christy- as this is a dramatic monologue- to what degree should we bring a dramatic reading to the text. I think we should bring a very dramatic reading to it. Do you want to give it a go. Let's read break it up, and then we can put it all back together and see if we can understand it. Sure, let me read it…. Okay, there's a lot to say, but I want to break everything down so that the poem can be fun- and it is fun. The way to read poems, and I know I've said this before, and not just me, but everyone, is read them slowly. It's about enjoying the details. It's not about rushing to the end, so let's do that… That's my last Duchess painted on the wall, Looking as if she were alive. Sentence one- we are to see that the duchess is painted on the wall- we'll understand in a minute that that's probably a fresco, but that doesn't necessarily matter. She looks as if she were alive, implying she's dead. We also know that the belonged to the Duke- it's his duchess and we know it's the last one whe had. We should also be alarmed that the tone here is quite detached. Garry, I hope if something bad happens to me, you don't talk about me like this. There is no tenderness here- there's pride, perhaps, but no tenderness. Let's keep going…. I call That piece a wonder, now; Fra Pandolf's hands Worked busily a day, and there she stands. Will't please you sit and look at her? Sentence 2- 3The piece is a wonder- not the woman- again-the PIECE is the wonder- be it the paitning or the woman- it's all very detached. But we also are told that she was painted by Fra Pandolf- Garry, you said we don't know anything about this guy for sure, but is there any historical context that could give us some help in understanding subtext here. Well, Fra- is short for Friar- this is a catholic monk or priest. That tells us that there is NO sexual hanky panky going on. Friar's take vows of chastity, and although we know there were those that broke them, there were more that didn't and we should presume that here as well. Also, he worked busily a day- may imply that this IS a fresco. Fresco paintings had to be done in one day, like with Michelangelo and the Sistine chapel because when the plaster dries youre done. But the nice thing about them is that once they do dry, they last forever. If you wanted beauty to never die- a fresco would be the way to go. And notice this rhetorical question- whoever the Duke is talking to is basically being told to sit and admire the last Duchess. We will soon find out that this guy is the emissary for the new Duchess, so in a sense, it is not appropriate to sit and stare at the last Mrs. So, we have to wonder, why does he insist on this? This next sentence is really very long and difficult to understand. I said “Fra Pandolf” by design, for never read Strangers like you that pictured countenance, The depth and passion of its earnest glance, But to myself they turned (since none puts by The curtain I have drawn for you, but I) But to myself they turned (since none puts by The curtain I have drawn for you, but I) And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst, How such a glance came there; so, not the first Are you to turn and ask thus. This sentence takes a couple of rereads to just make sense of it- but let me put it in my words. Basocially, he's saying that Fra Pandolf- on purpose- captured a very specific facial expression in the face of his ex-wife. She had this certain deep and passionate smile- the way he's suggesting here- it's almost a sexy smile- and- according to this duke, he imagines that the guy he's talking to is like everyone else in the world and everyone else in the world- when they see this painting want to ask him, although they don't dare because this duke is just that intimidating- they want to ask him who she's looking at to give such a sexy glance. And then he is just going to tell this guy- who did not ask that question or even ask to see this painting- who exactly his wife was looking at when she gave this sexy smile. And notice that the way he phrases it almost suggests the last duchess was perhaps cheating on him. Sir, 'twas not Her husband's presence only, called that spot Of joy into the Duchess' cheek; perhaps Fra Pandolf chanced to say, “Her mantle laps Over my lady's wrist too much,” or “Paint Must never hope to reproduce the faint Half-flush that dies along her throat.” He says, it wasn't just my presence that gave her that sexy smile. Maybe even Fra Pandolf happened to suggest that she reveal a little more skin- implying maybe she liked to show a little more skin- a little more wrist. He goes on to say that paint couldn't possibly reproduce her half-flush. All of this is pseudo sexual language that ends with death threat along the throat. Let me interject something here that caught my eye- the way he talks to the guy he's talking to is very condescending. He makes him sit down. He uses the term “sir” and “you” instead of “thee or thou” that would have been more appropriate between men of equal station of the time period. He is talking down to this guy for whatever reason. Look at these next two sentences- Such stuff Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough For calling up that spot of joy. She had A heart—how shall I say?— too soon made glad, Too easily impressed; she liked whate'er She looked on, and her looks went everywhere. He's going on and on about this sexy smile. But here he again implies she's permiscuous. He uses the word “stuff”- that is a very vague term which we use euphemistically for things we don't want to say outloud. Then he says this, “she had a heart- how shall I say?- too soon made glad” that phrase- how shall I say is set off with dashes. This duke is stopping as if he can't quite find the right word to describe the behavior for his wife- how shall I say- he's looking for that word and the words he comes up with are “too soon made glad”- or she gets happy to easily- again implying almost less subtly that she flirts inappropriately. Just the very idea that he wants to pretend that he has to find the right word- he's been rattling on and on in perfect iambic pentameter for a good 22 lines with no need to even have any dash at all- much less a problem with coming up with the right words. In fact, he has already told us he shows off this picture many times apparently to a bunch of people who look at that sexy smile and wonder who she's smiling at. He will continue to imply that his wife was a slut with even more euphemisms. Read the next two sentences. Too easily impressed; she liked whate'er She looked on, and her looks went everywhere. Sir, 'twas all one! That last sentence, is a telegraphic sentence- that means it's very short for the purpose of highlighting a very important idea. She looked everywhere and with that same dang sexy smile. It's clear by this point he hated that. My favour at her breast, The dropping of the daylight in the West, The bough of cherries some officious fool Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule She rode with round the terrace—all and each Would draw from her alike the approving speech, Or blush, at least. She thanked men—good! but thanked Somehow—I know not how—as if she ranked My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name With anybody's gift. And now we are let on to the secret that this guy may be a psychopath. Look at what he's jealous of- that duchess presumed to look at the sunset with her sexy smile. A nice person gave her a cherry and she gave him a sexy smile. She gave her mule that sexy smile. Now we are led to question, is this really a sexy smile or is this just a kind smile? It appears she had the audacity to thank people for things- clearly something he doesn't do. And in fact, something she should not do- the only person she should ever be thanking is him. He gave her the most p recious thing in the entire universe- his name- and if she thanked him other people with the same words as she used to thank him- or if she smiled at people with a kind smile- that was a direct assault him. Who does she think she is? Who'd stoop to blame This sort of trifling? Even had you skill In speech—which I have not—to make your will Quite clear to such an one, and say, “Just this Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss, Or there exceed the mark”—and if she let Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse— E'en then would be some stooping; and I choose Never to stoop. Notice how the tone seems to shift here. He's getting a little angrier. He's also throwing out more of those dashes- this time to set off the phrase that he doesn't have skill in speech- of course he has skill in speech- that's the whole point. It reminds me of when I've fussed at my children and said something like, “I guess I didn't make myself clear when I asked you to clean your room”- you're not really communicating you were not clear, you're communicating you WERE clear and you were ignored. Exactly- and apparently he had told her that certain behaviors of hers like smiling and thanking people were disgusting to him and she blatantly ignored this. She refused to be lessoned- and of course we have a pun here- because lessons are something that you learn- she refused to be taught- but she also refused to be lessened as in made smaller. She didn't stoop – but here's what's worse. He didn't actually tell her anything. He didn't actually ask her to do or not do anything. For him to actually have to tell her to do these things- that in and of itself would be degrading to him. I've been told that line before- perhaps you have to- I shouldn't have to tell you to do this- you should just know it- you should WANT to do this thing that I want you do to do. And by you not knowing or not wanting the right things that I want you to want or to like- THAT is the infraction- the insult lies there. How could you NOT want this thing that I want you to want or have this behavior that I want you to have. The very idea that I would have to stoop to tell you is in itself an insult beyond scope. And if you are not convinced that he's psycho- he's got more to say. First to confirm that she did not cheat on him or even hate him. Oh, sir, she smiled, no doubt, Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without Much the same smile? She smiled at him. It seems, as we are now to assume, that she did not have a sexy smile but that this smile was a kind smile- she smiled kindly at him. And THIS was an insult because that smile, that we see on the wall- that sexy smile that is now a kind smile- she gave out to other people besides him. Why would she do that!?? That was just too too much, so the poor person sitting down and listening to this is supposed to clearly understand that by this point he had no choice- she had to go. This grew; I gave commands; Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands As if alive. So, did he have her executed? I know- it's ambiguous. I read somewhere that someone directly asked Browning this question to which and one time he replied smugly, I didn't say he had her executed. I said all smiles stopped, maybe he sent her to the convent. But another time he said, yes, these were commands to be put to death..so we are left to make that determination for ourselves. I will say, I think the person he's talking to thinks he had her killed. As we read these lines, there's an indication that tried to bolt but the Duke won't let him. Let's read the ending. Will't please you rise? We'll meet The company below, then. I repeat, The Count your master's known munificence Is ample warrant that no just pretense Of mine for dowry will be disallowed; Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed At starting, is my object. Nay, we'll go Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though, Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity, Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me! How do you think that means the emissary is trying to bolt? Well, first the Duke tells him to get up for them to go down together to meet the new duchess- but then he says, nay= nay means no- no to what- I think the guy was trying to get head of him because he says, “nay, we'll go together.” He's not letting this guy out of his sight. He's enjoying this. He wanted to tell this story. He wanted to brag on his omnipotence- it's not a coincidence that he's showing off another piece of art of his- this one a Roman God- Neptune. And this is the final thought of the poem and worth us taking a minute to think about. Again- this is why poetry is not informational. The fun of poetry is not to get to the end and get all the information. The fun of poetry is to slow down and think the thoughts the poet is feeding you. Following the clues and hearing his voice. Browning, from over 100 years ago wants to give us a few ideas about life and how to look at certain people that surface in every generation. And the final image is this statue of the Roman god, Neptune. When we see the statue, the first thing we think about is =huh, another piece of art. Browning has created a frame for his poem- he started and ended his poem with art- these two pieces. Then the next thought should be- huh- I wonder what Neptune is supposed to tell us. Who is Neptune? How does art piece number two connect with art piece number 1? Well, obviously, Neptune is the god of the sea- the Greeks called him Poseiden. But what is he doing here- well- he's taming a sea horse- what does that mean? This statue is not a static statue- it's not a bowl of fruit, it's not even a horse in a park. It's a Roman god taming a sea horse. Neptune, in general is god of the sea – he commands and controls nature itself- the environment- there is a suggestion here of violence- by casting the sculpture in bronze the Duke has tamed and stopped the god taming the sea- he is the master of it all- he is in total control- Neptune has restrained the sea horse in exactly the same way as the Duke has restrained his wife- he controls the vitality- just as he has frozen the vitality in this statue- the vitality of his wife is also frozen. Well, and what is ironic about all of it- is that in describing his ex-wife- he describes a woman totally in tune with life- she connected to nature, to others, to animals- she was the very expression of vitality- to the point that her vitality is expressed in a smile he tries to explain away as adulterous. He is bragging because he had the power to get rid of that smile- to get rid of that vitality- she could be reduced to a work of art in death- something he could never accomplish in life. And yet, there is more irony even in this…in order to destroy his wife- he preserved her for all eternity. We all know that art outlasts a single lifespan. By destroying her vitality- he preserved her vitality. Oh my, that's confusing- are you trying to make us crazy. Maybe- but I'm trying to point out how fun poetry can be if we let it. Let's read it put back together. That's my last Duchess painted on the wall, Looking as if she were alive. I call That piece a wonder, now; Fra Pandolf's hands Worked busily a day, and there she stands. Will't please you sit and look at her? I said “Fra Pandolf” by design, for never read Strangers like you that pictured countenance, The depth and passion of its earnest glance, But to myself they turned (since none puts by The curtain I have drawn for you, but I) And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst, How such a glance came there; so, not the first Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, 'twas not Her husband's presence only, called that spot Of joy into the Duchess' cheek; perhaps Fra Pandolf chanced to say, “Her mantle laps Over my lady's wrist too much,” or “Paint Must never hope to reproduce the faint Half-flush that dies along her throat.” Such stuff Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough For calling up that spot of joy. She had A heart—how shall I say?— too soon made glad, Too easily impressed; she liked whate'er She looked on, and her looks went everywhere. Sir, 'twas all one! My favour at her breast, The dropping of the daylight in the West, The bough of cherries some officious fool Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule She rode with round the terrace—all and each Would draw from her alike the approving speech, Or blush, at least. She thanked men—good! but thanked Somehow—I know not how—as if she ranked My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame This sort of trifling? Even had you skill In speech—which I have not—to make your will Quite clear to such an one, and say, “Just this Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss, Or there exceed the mark”—and if she let Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse— E'en then would be some stooping; and I choose Never to stoop. Oh, sir, she smiled, no doubt, Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands; Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands As if alive. Will't please you rise? We'll meet The company below, then. I repeat, The Count your master's known munificence Is ample warrant that no just pretense Of mine for dowry will be disallowed; Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed At starting, is my object. Nay, we'll go Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though, Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity, Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me! A great writer can make things simple- like the simplistic understanding that this is an excellent portrait of a psychopath- which it is- to a historical understanding- as an expose on the dark side of the Renaissance- a moralistic understanding- like beware of objectifying self-serving schucks- or what I will call an optimistic reading….freedom and vitality cannot be contained…life finds a way… (to quote that philosopher Michael Crichton) and that way may just be through a poem.. . Thank you Robert Browning. Yeah- well there you go- today's take away- stop reading for information- but read looking for the vitality!!! Yeah! Read for vitality!! It's there! Next episode, we will tell you the famous love story of Robert Browning and his celebrity wife, Elizabeth Barrett, and we'll read some bona fide love poems. Thank you for spending time with us today. We don't take that for granted. Support us, if you don't mind, by tweeting an episode on your twitter feed, your linked in feed, or your facebook or Instagram feed. Text an episode to a friend and help us grow. Thank you. Peace out.
Los paisajes sonoros de F.S. Blumm y Nils Frahm, James Blake, Lady Blackbird, Onyx Collective, Jordan Rakei o The War On Drugs son la banda sonora que hemos escogido para hablar de la edición de Bosquegrafíes que está teniendo lugar en el concejo de Pongue (Asturias). Con una Instalación de Land Art a cargo de Raquel de la Insúa como escenografía añadida a la natural, está celebración del arte y la naturaleza que tendrá lugar hasta el domingo 10 cuenta con la poesía de Alejandro Fernández-Osorio, Raquel Lanseros o Esther Muntañola; la escultura de Carmen Castillo Bartolomé; el Naturalismu Poéticu de Raúl Alcanduerca y su Herbario sonoro; la literatura de Walt Whitman por Raúl Vacas Polo; la ilustración de Esther Cuesta Sáiz, la Danza y Música Nel Bosque de Arborecer o el Bañu de Bosque de Alicia Andres Ramos y Josu Belmonte. Todos ellos conforman los nervios de estas hojas de otoño que crepitan bajo nuestros pies. Escuchar audio
On this West Virginia Morning, cases of COVID-19 appear to be decreasing, but for younger children, especially those too young to be vaccinated, experts say it is important to stay the course. And two scholars believe they have potentially uncovered lost letters of Walt Whitman.
•Pastor Falicia Campbell shares as we give tribute to the voice, the woman Lecresia Campbell – Falicia's baby sister. •Lecresia Campbell began having her voice trained at the age of 5 and excelled in preparing her voice for Praise! She released her solo album "Draw Me Near" in 1986 however got worldwide notice leading “Perfect Praise” (How Excellent) written by Brenda Joyce Moore on the Walt Whitman and the Soul Children recording released 1991 on the "This Is The Day" album. •Lecresia went on to be a mighty lead vocalist on many other records with her signature sound and vocal range. She said in her own words that “Safety” was her favorite because it reminded her of healing. •The world lost this vocalist, worship leader and actress in September of 2016. We still cherish the memory of a beautiful person and soul Thank you Ray Patrick for allowing me to use a clip of an interview conducted in UK from Medianet Gospel. If you have any questions or comments about this episode, please send an email to: email@example.com
Peter Wirzbicki, historian and Walt Whitman buff, joins me to talk about authenticity, Transcendentalism, and its relationship to the American anti-slavery movement.Want to help Cassettes grow? Become a patron at patreon.com/cassettespodcast and get full-length episodes with double the content, 48 hours early.Follow Cassettes on...Instagram: @cassettespodcastTwitter: @cassettes_podSpecial thanks to Chris Maier, who did the music. Find him here.GUEST LINKSPeter's Aeon article: 'Ralph Waldo Emerson would really hate your Twitter feed'Peter's book: 'Fighting for the Higher Law' (Amazon)Peter's Twitter: @peterw536Peter's website: peterwirzbicki.comTHINGS WE MENTIONEDWhig Party, Cotton Whigs TranscendentalismRalph Waldo EmersonMargaret Fuller Wendell Phillips William Seward The Higher Law Thomas Jefferson and slavery John Witherspoon Henry Ford and antisemitism★ Support this podcast on Patreon ★
"Perkataan yang diucapkan tepat pada waktunya adalah seperti buah apel emas di pinggan perak." (Amsal 25:11) Renungan: Seorang penulis diabad ke 19 yang bernama Walt Whitman berjuang selama bertahun-tahun untuk membuat siapa saja tertarik pada puisi-puisi ataupun buku-buku yang ditulisnya. Namun seiring berjalannya waktu, ia menjadi sangat putus asa, karena tidak ada seorangpun yang tertarik atau memberikan penghargaan terhadap hasil karyanya. Di tengah-tengah rasa frustasi dan putus asanya, Walt Whitman hampir saja berhenti menulis. Ia sudah kehilangan gairah untuk menulis. Tapi suatu hari ia menerima sebuah surat yang isinya seperti ini, "Dear Sir, Saya tidak buta dalam menilai hadiah yang indah dari buku anda yang berjudul "Leaves of Grass. Saya menemukan kecerdasan dan kebijaksanaan luar biasa yang belum dikontribusikan kepada Amerika melalui buku ini. Saya ingin memberi salam kepada anda di awal karir anda yang luar biasa. Tertanda, Ralp Waldo Emerson. Ternyata apa yang dikatakan oleh Emerson dalam hidup Whitman melalui surat singkat itu membawa perubahan yang cukup besar dalam semangat Whitman. Surat itu seperti memberi oksigen baru bagi Whitman. Segera saja ia kembali bergairah, memiliki semangat baru dan terus terinspirasi untuk menulis. Kita tidak perlu menjadi seorang penulis profesional seperti Emerson untuk membuat perbedaan dalam hidup orang lain. Kita hanya perlu meluangkan waktu untuk menulis sebuah catatan singkat atau menyatakannya secara lisan untuk memberi semangat pada orang lain. Jadi, mari menabur sesuatu yang baik, supaya kita juga mendapatkan kebaikan. Berilah semangat melalui perkataan atau tulisan kita kepada orang lain, karena siapa tahu di saat itu mereka sedang berputus asa dan sedang membutuhkan kata-kata peneguhan atau semangat untuk meneruskan hidup mereka. Jangan memandang remeh perkataan kita, karena hidup seseorang bisa diubahkan melalui perkataan dan motivasi yang kita berikan. Perkataan yang diucapkan tepat pada waktunya adalah seperti buah apel emas di pinggan perak. Tuhan Yesus memberkati. Doa: Tuhan Yesus, urapilah perkataanku, sehingga memiliki kuasa untuk meneguhkan dan memberi semangat pada orang lain yang yang sedang sedih dan putus asa. Amin. (Dod).
One must leave the mind and all of its knowledge at the gate of the Mother Spirit, which dwells in the present only and is a still field of vibratory awareness. We then enter into completely unknown territory. Awareness of the breath is an objective feedback mechanism that lets us know when we are present and awake in the body. The most fundamental, primal, and ancient of all longings is to return to the Mother, which is stillness. Active stillness is a masculine move that involves the active movement of attention from the head-brain into the body that allows the inner feminine energy to emerge. When one engages active stillness, thoughts begin to lose some of their power over us. There are gaps between thoughts that we can then begin to investigate. Two secret keys to awakening the feminine are forgiveness and apologies. In embracing the practice of active stillness, we embrace life and death as one and the same. One returns to the breath over and over, as one returns to the mother. The feminization of inner work is considered through Red Hawk's poetry. Red Hawk is the author of 12 books, including The Way of the Wise Woman, Self Remembering, Self Observation, and Return to the Mother. He held the Alfred Hodder Fellowship in the Humanities at Princeton University in 1991-1992. He was a finalist for the Walt Whitman award of the Academy of American Poets and a runner-up for the Paterson Poetry Prize.
What is our right to be desired? How are our sexual desires shaped by the society around us? Is consent sufficient for a sexual relationship? In the wake of the #MeToo movement, public debates about sex work, and the rise in popularity of “incel culture”, philosopher Amia Srinivasan explores these questions and more in her new book of essays, The Right to Sex: Feminism in the Twenty-First Century. Amia's interests lay in how our internal perspectives and desires are shaped by external forces, and the question of how we might alter those forces to achieve a more just, equitable society. Amia joined Tyler to discuss the importance of context in her vision of feminism, what social conservatives are right about, why she's skeptical about extrapolating from the experience of women in Nordic countries, the feminist critique of the role of consent in sex, whether disabled individuals should be given sex vouchers, how to address falling fertility rates, what women learned about egalitarianism during the pandemic, why progress requires regress, her thoughts on Susan Sontag, the stroke of fate that stopped her from pursuing a law degree, the “profound dialectic” in Walt Whitman's poetry, how Hinduism has shaped her metaphysics, how Bernard Williams and Derek Parfitt influenced her, the anarchic strain in her philosophy, why she calls herself a socialist, her next book on genealogy, and more. Visit our website: https://conversationswithtyler.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cowenconvos Follow us on Instagram: https://instagram.com/cowenconvos/ Follow Tyler on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tylercowen Follow Amia on Twitter: https://twitter.com/amiasrinivasan Like us on Facebook: https://facebook.com/cowenconvos Subscribe to our Newsletter: https://go.mercatus.org/l/278272/2017-09-19/g4ms Thumbnail photo credit: Nina Subin
A reading from Walt Whitman's poem, "Give Me the Splendid Silent Sun." This comes from the earliest published version, in the 1865 collection Drum Taps. The best place to find Whitman's poetry online (or anything about him at all) remains the Whitman Archive, and you can find every edition of Leaves of Grass here (as plain text downloads) and here (facsimiles of the original editions). While there are hundreds of editions of Whitman's poetry in print, the best editions for me are Gary Schmidgall's Walt Whitman: Selected Poems 1855-1892, which present his best poems in their earliest published form (this is the book I am reading from here); the second includes the first and last editions of Leaves of Grass, along with a huge selection of Whitman's prose. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to email@example.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will remove the episode immediately. --- Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/support
A reading from a small section of "Song of Myself." This comes from the earliest published version, in the 1855 Leaves of Grass, when "Song of Myself" was free of section numbers and good deal of editing. For those looking for this section in later editions, it ends up as part of section #33. The best place to find Whitman's poetry online (or anything about him at all) remains the Whitman Archive, and you can find every edition of Leaves of Grass here (as plain text downloads) and here (facsimiles of the original editions). While there are hundreds of editions of Whitman's poetry in print, the best editions for me are Gary Schmidgall's Walt Whitman: Selected Poems 1855-1892, which present his best poems in their earliest published form (this is the book I am reading from here); the second includes the first and last editions of Leaves of Grass, along with a huge selection of Whitman's prose. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to email@example.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will remove the episode immediately. --- Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/support
¡Hola! La historia mítica del parto es lo que nos convoca en este episodio. Una experiencia compartida por cada uno de nosotros, pero en la que poco meditamos.¿SabÍas que es el bebé genera su propia placenta al interior de su Madre? Te cuento también sobre el mundo que mis padres crearon para recibirme y suelto las 51 Linas que he sido para bienvenir la versión #52. Con un poema de Walt Whitman, te invito a mantener tus ojos abiertos a los Milagros, y a abrir tu corazón a los espirales que nuestras vidas tejen a medida que los días se convierten en mese, y los meses, en años llenos de recuerdos.
Vanishing Postcards host and storyteller Evan Stern on the importance of telling the stories from the places that are off the interstate. This episode is brought to you by Brain.fm. I love and use brain.fm every day! It combines music and neuroscience to help me focus, meditate, and even sleep! Because you listen to this show, you can get a free trial.* URL: https://brain.fm/innovativemindset If you love it as much as I do, you can get 20% off with this exclusive coupon code: innovativemindset Born during the driving rainstorm that inspired Stevie Ray Vaughan to record the classic “Texas Flood,” Evan Stern is one of a proud few who can claim Austin as his legitimate hometown. Having caught the performing bug early on, he first gained attention at age 11 with a second-place finish in Austin's famed O. Henry Pun Off, and has since graced the stages of New York's Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and the British American Drama Academy, whether acting Shakespeare, or charming audiences with the turn of a Cole Porter phrase, Evan is first and foremost a storyteller, with a sincere love and appreciation for history, travel and the art of raconteurship. He is now honored to return to Texas for the first season of Vanishing Postcards, an ambitious project that represents a synthesis of these passions through the form of audio essay. Vanishing Postcards is a documentary travelogue in which listeners are invited on a road trip exploring the hidden dives, traditions, and frequently threatened histories that can be discovered by exiting the interstates. Named one of the Best Podcasts of 2021 by Digital Trends. Connect with Evan IG - @vanishing_postcards IG - @evansternnyc Podcast- https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/vanishing-postcards/id1544610020 Episode Transcript [00:00:00] Evan Stern: It's hard for me to really latch on one specific lesson that I have gained, but I do believe that. Everybody wants, ultimately wants to be heard. [00:00:18] Izolda Trakhtenberg: Hello and welcome to the innovative mindset podcast. I'm your host Izolda Trakhtenberg on the show. I interview peak performing innovators in the creative social impact and earth conservation spaces or working to change the world. This episode is brought to you by brain FM brain FM combines the best of music and neuroscience to help you relax, focus, meditate, and even sleep. [00:00:39] I love it and have been using it to write, create and do. Deepest work because you're a listener of the show. You can get a free trial head over to brain.fm/innovative mindset to check it out. If you decide to subscribe, you can get 20% off with the coupon code, innovative mindset, all one word. And now let's get to the show. [00:00:58] Yeah.[00:01:00] [00:01:02] Hey there. And welcome to the innovative mindset podcast. My name is Izolda Trakhtenberg. I'm your host, and I'm super thrilled that you're here. I'm also really excited and thrilled to talk about and meet this week's guest. Listen to this. Evan stern was born during the driving rainstorm that inspired Stevie Ray Vaughn to record the class. [00:01:22] Texas flood. I love that Evan stern is one of a proud few who can claim Austin. S's legitimate hometown that's the town is growing. So, wow. That's amazing how few people probably are from there. Having caught the performing bug early on. He first gained attention at age 11 with a second place finish in Austin's famed. [00:01:43] Oh, Henry punt off. And it says grace, the stages of new York's Carnegie hall and Lincoln center, a graduate of Sarah Lawrence college. American drama academy. Wow. Whether acting Shakespeare or charming audiences with the turn of a Cole Porter phrase, Evan is first and foremost, a storyteller, and [00:02:00] you know how close that is to my heart. [00:02:02] He's got a sincere love and appreciation for history travel and the art of a wreck on tour ship. He's now honored to return to Texas for the first season of vanishing postcards and ambitious project that represents a synthesis of these passions through the form of audio essay. Vanishing postcards is a documentary travel log in which listeners are invited on a road trip, exploring the hidden dives, traditions, and frequently threatened histories that can be discovered by exiting the interstates named one of the best podcasts of 2021 by digital trends, evidence here to talk about banishing postcards and everything else. [00:02:37] So amazing that he's doing Evan. Thank you so much for being there. Show welcome. [00:02:41] Evan Stern: Thank you so much for having me. It's a great honor. Oh, [00:02:44] Izolda Trakhtenberg: you're very sweet. So I I'm, this is such an exciting thing. Delving into the history of Texas. First of all, into the, into the storytellers of Texas into the dives and the honky-tonks of Texas as a travel log.[00:03:00] [00:03:00] But as a podcast, what, what inspired you to do this? What inspired you to go? You know what? I'm going to create this travel log. And I'm going to make it about my home state. What happened that you went, yes, I want to do this. [00:03:13] Evan Stern: Well, it was, it, it wasn't as if there was a lightning bolt of inspiration. It was a very kind of slow gradual process. [00:03:21] Um, and, and you told me, you know, a few years ago that right now I'd be working on a podcast. Um, you know, I might've said really. Um, but like, like so many though, I am one of those people who over the last 10 years just absolutely fell in love. Podcasting, um, and the, um, audio medium of storytelling, I think kind of the gateway drug for me, um, was years ago, I started listening to the moth, you know, just people getting up and telling personal stories without notes. [00:03:52] I, I just absolutely loved it. Um, then you start discovering, um, other programs, you know, like the, the kitchen [00:04:00] sisters and, and, and, and there's, you know, different, different stuff. I mean, there, there's a wonderful podcast about classic Hollywood called you must remember this. There's one about country music called cocaine and rhinestones, um, and around, and, you know, not too long ago as well. [00:04:18] Um, you know, the YouTube algorithm, uh, kept suggesting for whatever reason that I watched these, uh, travel blog, travel blog videos, and in watching them, I would never really see the way that I enjoy traveling represented. Um, I mean, certainly it's not always the case, but I think more often than not, when you, when you see videos of that nature, it's much less about the places themselves. [00:04:45] It's much more about the people saying, oh, look at me and how cute I am in this place. Um, and I just kind of gradually started thinking, you know, I wonder if there is something that, uh, that, that I can do. [00:05:00] Um, and initially I had this grand idea. That I wanted to do a show that was going to be a musical travel log of Mexico. [00:05:09] Um, you know, I'm, I'm immersed in the gig economy in New York, and I always try my best to get away January February just to, to escape the, the bitter cold of the winter. And, um, you know, Mexico is my happy place. It's, it's cheap, it's warm. Um, and so I initially had this idea that I was going to go, uh, kind of explore, use music as a portal to exploring the cultural, regional history of Mexico. [00:05:36] I was going to go to Vera Cruz that was going to where the tradition of, you know, and one a Watteau and, um, you know, in Monterey and the north. And I went so far as to, uh, produce a pilot episode, um, in Marietta Yucatan, um, about the tradition of the trophies that they have there. And it's one thing to, you know, when you're running an event, [00:06:00] Um, you know, you're thinking to yourself, oh my goodness, this is just going to be the best thing ever. [00:06:05] This is going to be amazing. And then you sit down and you listen to what you have spent months working on and you go, oh my goodness, I have missed the mark. So terribly. Um, it was a perfect lesson in show. Don't tell, I mean, w what happened was, is I talked all about the city of Marietta. It's about its history, this, that, and the other, but you didn't actually, um, when, when you were listening to it, I also learned pretty quickly that the, the human voice has such terrific color, shade, and nuance to it. [00:06:37] That if you have an actor come in, um, to a dub over, uh, you know, what was said in English, you just, you just lose so much. Um, and I realized pretty quickly that I needed to learn much more about audio production before tackling a project of that ambitious nature. And so I started thinking to myself, well, you know what. [00:06:59] Might [00:07:00] not be as exotic as Mexico, but if there's one thing I know it's that Texas people love to talk and they tell great stories. So in January of 2020, um, grab some equipments. Um, and I went back down to Texas to see what I could do. Um, really, it was just, uh, going to be kind of an experiment. Um, but it very quickly evolved into vanishing postcards. [00:07:26] Um, what happened was, is I took a look at what I was doing, um, and I realized that each episode was a snapshot of a different place. And if there was a thing that the place has had in common it's that you didn't know how much longer a lot of them were going to be around or that they were representative of broader cultural histories or traditions that. [00:07:52] You know, you, you just, they're kind of rare, um, in, in this kind of fast paced rapidly homogenizing [00:08:00] world. Um, and, um, since then it, it became, it it's, it's been an incredibly rewarding journey. Um, you know, as I maybe referenced earlier in, in many ways, it is kind of a 180 from a lot of the work I've previously done at the, at the same time. [00:08:17] Um, I feel that all of that work really kind of beautifully prepared me for it. Um, and having embarked on this journey, um, I ended up covering like about 1500 miles of, of Texas and, um, having embarked on this journey as a solo traveler, um, I'm now really grateful that the series is out in the world. Um, and I can invite, uh, you know, people like you and listeners really around the world, uh, to, to join me now and experience, uh, everything that I got to do. [00:08:49] Izolda Trakhtenberg: Wow. That's amazing. And it's incredible to me, what you just said about how you took everything that you had learned up until that [00:09:00] point and reframed it and repurposed it almost into this, this way of looking at your home state. And yet it is both technical and it takes a lot of artistry. And I'm wondering what, in, as part of, as part of doing this project, what did you learn? [00:09:21] What was the thing that stood out for you that you learned maybe about yourself or about the people in your state or about the places? What was the biggest thing you learned and how did it change you? [00:09:31] Evan Stern: Well, there's a lot, I mean, it's hard to, for me to really latch on one specific lesson that I have gained. [00:09:38] Um, but I do believe that. Everybody wants, ultimately wants to be heard. They, they really do. Um, and I mean, people often ask me, you know, w w w w when I first started doing this, it was, it was in January, 2020. It was before the pandemic hit. Obviously the pandemic changed, um, a [00:10:00] lot of what I could do. Um, but I was really the first episodes that you'll hear in the series. [00:10:05] I was really just kind of showing up at these places completely unannounced. Um, they really had no idea, um, that I was going to be there. Um, and it, it, people ask me, you know, did you meet resistance? We'll we'll really know. Um, everyone was, was intrigued. And for the most part, people were so honored that, you know, someone like me was taking an interest in their work, their place, uh, what they were doing. [00:10:35] Um, and I don't think too, I mean, Someone recently asked me too, that, that when they, you know, listen to the, to the series, you know, that, you know, they, they feel as if I'm able to, you know, extract these, these stories. And they said, well, how, how do you, how do you make this magic happen? And, well, the truth is is that you, you can't, um, there is nothing that you can do to you. [00:10:59] You never [00:11:00] really know what is is going to happen. Um, but the stories, if you just, if you start talking to people, um, you approach them with respect, empathy, and a willingness to listen. Um, and you ask them specific questions. Um, you just, you, you never know what you're going to. Um, and something that I tell anyone who's maybe interested in doing something like this. [00:11:29] Um, I will say that if you do want to, you know, get stories, you do want to ask people specific questions. Um, I would never go up to someone and just say, tell me about yourself. Um, I might say, um, before we get started, could you maybe describe for me your childhood home, you know, something like that. And, um, that really kind of opens up the door and we just kind of take things from there. [00:11:51] Yeah. [00:11:56] Izolda Trakhtenberg: Sorry. I'm taking all of that in. I like to take a pause to make sure [00:12:00] that I've, that I've understood everything. One of the things that I heard you say that really struck a chord with me was that it's about listening. And the other thing of course was asking those specific questions and. Were there any, and if so, what are they techniques that you use specifically as a, as a performer to help you with that part of it? [00:12:26] Evan Stern: Well, you know, I honestly, I think that, um, as I said so much of my experience, um, leading PR prepared me in, in leading up to this, um, and a big job that I've had for a number of years here in the city is it's a very, it's a very strange job. Um, I work as a, what is called a standardized patient, um, that is the medical schools, programs, hire actors to facilitate simulations [00:13:00] for, uh, medical interns and students. [00:13:03] Um, I have played all sorts of different cases. You'd never believe. I mean, they've had to diagnose me. I've been the graphic designer they've had to diagnose with cancer. Um, I have, uh, you know, I, I I've been the 19 year old crack addict who suffered a panic attack. You name it. I've I've had it. Um, but I have learned so much in, in working with these students in terms of how they build rapport and what works and what doesn't. [00:13:34] Um, I think it's amazing. How many people, uh, it can be applied to interview situations, whatever, um, you know, you give someone a microphone. Sometimes they just kind of become a completely different person. You know, they think that every question, you know, has to be probing and every question, you know, has to have weight, but you really just have to remember how you talk to people in your [00:14:00] everyday life. [00:14:02] You know, how do you introduce yourself to a stranger? Um, you know, you're just going to start talking to people, um, and you know, you, you read their body language and you, you really just it's about establishing trust. Um, and it, and I feel that people understand that. I don't think of myself as a journalist. [00:14:30] Um, I'll be the first to say that I think of myself as more of an essayist. I really think that a journalist job is to investigate a journalist job is to probe. I'm not really there to do that. I'm really there just to, you know, kind of have a conversation and, and enjoy the ride and see where that ride takes. [00:14:49] You know, I'm not, if someone tells me a tall tale, um, I'm not going to fact check that story. Um, but I think that people recognize [00:15:00] that. Um, and you know, I just think that, um, just, just really, like I said, just, just remembering how we relate to one another, uh, every day is, is just crucial. [00:15:15] Izolda Trakhtenberg: Yeah, you're talking. I mean, as you're talking, I'm going, he's, he's talking about integrity and authenticity, and those words are abandoned about aura a lot nowadays, but it really, it seems to me that that's, that that's what you, that, that that's what, what you were using, you know, using who you, who you were authentically to meet these people. [00:15:37] And I know you said that people asked you if you, if you met resistance, I'm wondering what was the most wild story you heard? [00:15:46] Evan Stern: Goodness. Oh, man, there, there were, there was, uh, so, so there's this teeny town called Castile, Texas that sits on the Western edge of the, uh, [00:16:00] the hill country. It's absolutely beautiful, very isolated. [00:16:04] The town has a population of six and, um, I don't even know if he's really there, mayor, I don't know if they actually have a mayor, but you know, the, the big local personality is Randy Love. Festi, uh, he's the owner of the Castille store. Um, I'll be releasing his episode in a, in a few weeks. Um, but, uh, when I was there, he told me that, uh, he had, uh, he, he, he, he took a trip to Cabo San Lucas with his girlfriend. [00:16:36] Uh, they saw this, uh, chicken in a bar and he said, you know what, I need a chicken for the store. So, um, you know, he bought this, uh, roof. For the store. And, um, he had this, uh, Billy Bass that was like, you know, one of those electronic things, you know, you clap your hands in the best wiggles. Well, um, one day as he tells [00:17:00] me, he looks over and, um, this rooster is having sexual relations with that bass. [00:17:05] So this thing he tells me became this huge sensation where people from all over the place started coming to town to see his rooster perform, you know, 12 times a day. And he was able to, uh, make hundreds of thousands of dollars in real estate deals that he was able to sell to the people who came through the store because of that rooster. [00:17:27] And then he proudly led me into the store where he showed me this. He, you know, he, he called the rooster cockroach. Yeah, and the rooster died. And after the rooster died, he had that. He took him to the taxidermists and, um, had him, uh, mounted and placed on top of his good friend, Billy the bass. And I've seen a lot of taxidermy in my day. [00:17:51] I don't think I have ever seen a stuffed rooster and I have certainly never seen a row stuffed rooster on top of a Billy Bass. I'll [00:18:00] tell you that right now. [00:18:02] Izolda Trakhtenberg: Wow. That is. Tall tale for sure. [00:18:10] Oh my goodness. I uh, wow. Yeah, yeah. I don't even, I'm like, whatever. How do I follow that up? I think, I don't [00:18:21] know. I did. I did, because you know, the thing, the thing about this is that anytime we tell stories or listen to stories, I think we're changed by them even if, even if it's, oh, that's just the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. Your experience of life is, is, is changed in some way or another. So I guess I'm wondering, how have you been changed by doing this project? [00:18:45] Evan Stern: Well, It's in many ways, it's been a dive into the unknown, as I said, it's, it's very, it was all very new for me in the beginning. Um, I had to do a lot of learning and [00:19:00] I re I really had to put myself out there. Um, it definitely, um, tested the boundaries of my comfort, um, in a lot of ways. Um, you know, you really just have to, as I said earlier, you have to go up out there and just start talking to people. [00:19:16] Um, and I usually found that I was way more nervous than the people I was talking to. And, um, I was talking to someone else about this, um, experience. Someone said, and, you know, she asked me, she was like, well, how do you, where does that confidence come from? Where do you get that confidence? And I said, well, you know what? [00:19:36] I, I, I think I've discovered that confidence is kind of overrated. Um, because you can't just read a book or, you know, attend a three-day workshop, whatever, and magically have confidence. It just doesn't happen that way. Confidence happens as a result of experience. Um, it happens as a result of mistakes. Um, and, [00:20:00] um, I think. [00:20:02] I heard somewhere that, you know, what heroic act doesn't involve, just huge levels of vulnerability. Um, and so I, I think I have definitely grown in confidence as a result of all of this, but that really, uh, just is a by-product of, of the work itself and everything that, you know, has been asked of me to, to rise to this challenge [00:20:36] Izolda Trakhtenberg: and that in itself, the, the skills you've built, the ideas that you've gotten and, and brought to fruition is a big part of the change I would imagine. And I love, I'd love to discuss a little bit as you talk about this, what is the process? What was the creative process that goes in to making an episode to crafting vanishing posts? [00:20:59] Evan Stern: Absolutely. [00:21:00] So each, you know, obviously I do have each episode does have a subject that I am interested in delving into. Um, there are people that I want to meet, just so you know, so basically, um, a bit more about the show itself for, for those listening out there. So essentially listeners are invited to join me on a road trip. [00:21:23] And so each episode is produced in documentary style. So, you know, you're going to hear a lot of, it's not, you know, interview, it's not talk show, you're going to hear a lot of different voices. Um, you're going to hear some of my narration, um, and I really work hard to make it an immersive listening experience for those who, who are hearing the episodes. [00:21:49] Um, but basically the, the way that I constructed is, um, there are. And, uh, as I said, you know, each episode, there are certain issues that, that I'm looking at. [00:22:00] Um, and so I just go, I, I talk to people, um, and I assemble a number of interviews at the, at the places that I go to. Um, you know, I try to talk to the, uh, the owners. [00:22:14] I try to talk to the workers. I try to talk to the people who go to these places. Um, you're going to ask all of those people different questions. Um, but you're also, I think there, you know, you also want to, there are also some specific questions that I will ask all of them. Um, and then what I do is I, I come back home and I listened to all of the, um, I listened to all of the interviews and I extract, you know, the, the gold from each person I speak with, you know, I could very well talk to someone for like an hour out of that hour conversation. [00:22:51] I might just take, you know, Three minutes worth of, of nuggets or whatnot. Um, and then I, you know, I, I look at [00:23:00] everything that I have and I stepped back and I, I just kind of look for it, you know, that, what, what, what, what, what are the commonalities, what, what do people keep coming back to, you know, are there opposing views? [00:23:15] Um, and from there, I, I just kind of take these nuggets and I weave together a story out of all of that. Um, I really let my subjects kind of guide the way that the, the story moves and goes. Um, the, the most challenging job for me is in the writing process of pasting it all together. Um, everything has to have I learned, you know, for years, I, you know, I've, I've. [00:23:45] Did a lot of performing in the cabaret world. Um, and you know, even if you're just putting together a show, that's, that's really kind of, you know, a series of songs, what is said in between those songs is every bit as [00:24:00] important as the songs themselves and everything has to have architecture and a beginning, middle and an end. [00:24:06] Um, so the, the greatest challenge for me is about how I can link everything together, um, in the narration as part of a cohesive whole, um, you know, I think, but each episode, uh, you know, I, I never, totally, there are always things that I want to focus on, but you just never totally know where it's going to go. [00:24:27] And before each one, um, I always ask my God, is this going to work? Um, but some so far it's worked out okay, [00:24:38] Izolda Trakhtenberg: That moment of, oh, what if this is going to be a complete disaster? I know it well. Um, and it's, I'm so fascinated by what you're saying with respect to the storytelling, the beginning, middle and end, and the sort of the patter between songs in, in, in a cabaret show, all of, all of those things, those elements [00:25:00] of storytelling, what do you think is the result? [00:25:06] What is the most crucial thing to put into it? And what is the result? How do you, when do you feel like yes, it has worked as opposed to, oh, it's going to be a disaster. [00:25:16] Evan Stern: Well, as I said earlier, again, the most important thing is, is show don't tell, um, and what, what, what is always best for me is I try not to. [00:25:34] I try not to express too much in the way of, of opinion. Um, what, what is really magical though, is just when you have, when you're talking to someone and, you know, whether they realize it or not, they, they share and tell a story that just kind of beautifully encapsulates everything, you know, that, that just really explains the issue [00:26:00] without it, you know, at that point, the work for you is, is really done. [00:26:05] Um, but you know, kind of an example of, of something that, you know, I, I did that, that was a challenge, um, was, you know, I have an episode that's coming out in a bit where. I took a trip first to, to Brownsville, Texas, where I spoke with this man who is the last, uh, cook in the United States who was allowed to serve a barbacoa cooked barbacoa, as it was meant to be prepared, which means it's, it's cooked in a pit under the ground. [00:26:37] Um, and that's what he does. He, he, he's serving barbacoa out of what had been his childhood home. Um, there's a pit out back that's in the ground and, you know, that's where he cooks it. The reason that he's allowed to do it is because his father started it in 1956 and it's been going on for this long. And so I focused on him and I did a segment on him. [00:26:57] And then I went to San [00:27:00] Antonio and I, um, you know, met a cook there who, you know, talked about cooking up puffy tacos. And, um, it ended up, you know, she, her story went in a completely different direction. Um, I mean, her mother. Started this business out of, uh, out of a garage because it was her last hope. Um, she was an incredible woman, a revered figure in San Antonio, um, who, you know, was shockingly murdered. [00:27:28] Um, and she talked all about that and, and, and everything. And, and then, and how she like found forgiveness and was being able to move beyond and, you know, everything that her, how her mother prepared her and how her mother expressed love through, through cooking. And, um, I realized that, you know, on, on the surface, you know, these two stories, yes, they were about cooking, but they were very, very different. [00:27:55] But what, what is it that they had in common? I realized that, you know, [00:28:00] through their cooking, they were both expressing love. And for me, and that's how I brought the two together. [00:28:14] Izolda Trakhtenberg: I'm still thinking, sorry, it's a beautiful, uh, yeah. That notion of, um, cooking and, and healing through cooking and expressing love through cooking, but also expressing love for, I guess, the, the heritage and the inspiration for what they did is so important. And I'm wondering if you have someone or figures or people in, in your world. [00:28:45] Hoo hoo hoo. Does that for you? Who inspired you to do this? And if so, is it that same love, it sounds weird to say love connection, but is that connection one of love and respect? What [00:29:00] is it about the people or the images or, or the ideas that inspired you that comes from that place? [00:29:11] Oh, no you're [00:29:11] Evan Stern: thinking. Oh, no, of course, absolutely. I mean, [00:29:20] There. I mean, who can you say, can you just rephrase the question in a simple, in a simple one sentence in a simple one sentence for me? Can you say, say what you're getting at [00:29:30] Izolda Trakhtenberg: again here? Sure. I'm just wondering who inspired you throughout the journey? Are there any public figures or is there anybody in Texas? [00:29:37] Are there any people who made you go, ah, this is what I want. Well, [00:29:41] Evan Stern: what I can say is that if, if there is a bar that I am always working towards, you know, never, never met him personally. Um, but I am old enough to remember growing up on CVS. There was a man by the name of Charles Kuralt who would travel the [00:30:00] country and he would really just kind of share good news is, is what he was, is what he was doing. [00:30:07] And he. He, he never expressed anything in, in terms of, in, in, in showing these stories, he was able to present, you know, the best of people without really expressing anything in the way of judgment. And there are many situations throughout this process where I have asked myself, what would Charles Kuralt do? [00:30:32] Hmm. Um, and you know, I, I don't mean to, I'm not trying to compare myself to Charles Caroll. Um, in the least, you know, I have much more work to do, you know, before I feel like I can get people called him the Walt Whitman of American television. Um, but I can tell you that that is the bar that I am always working towards. [00:30:56] Um, and the greatest compliments that I have received, [00:31:00] um, you know, or when people have heard this series and said, oh, you know what, this reminds me of Charles Perrault. [00:31:08] Izolda Trakhtenberg: That's lovely. And I remember Charles Caroll also on like, uh, CBS Sunday morning or something like that. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. His stories were all, you know, when, uh, you were mentioning the idea of love and heart. [00:31:20] That's what I remember thinking about his stories was that they were always full of such quiet soul and heart. They didn't have to be huge stories, but they were, they always left me feeling better and always gave me something to think about. Well, yeah, [00:31:38] Evan Stern: go on. Go on. No, no, no, go ahead. Go ahead. Well, and I do believe that there is a great void of that when you look at our media landscape right now, and th there, there really is. [00:31:48] Um, we live in a horribly polarized, horribly divided age. Um, I, I do not believe that anything that we have lived through over the [00:32:00] last five, six years should be normalized. I will be the first to say that, um, But I do believe that, you know, the, the issues that we are wrestling with right now as a nation, uh, in the divisions that we're dealing with in terms of politics and race are completely unsustainable. [00:32:20] But at the same time, I do think that there is more that we have in common than what we've realized. And I do think that culture right now is one of those rare areas of agreement. And what this show is about celebrating is that culture, um, you know, culture provides opportunity for shared experiences and you know, that that's really kind of what I'm getting at with, with all of this. [00:32:53] Um, and, and additionally too, I mean, how can we expect for people in [00:33:00] our rural communities to appreciate what is good and beautiful about places like New York city or San Francisco, or even Austin for that matter, if we cannot appreciate what is good and beautiful about them, [00:33:22] Izolda Trakhtenberg: from what you just said, it feels like there's a sort of a, through the looking glass aspect to your show that you're inviting people to go on a journey with you to, to see these places or to listen to these, to these stories and to hear about them. When you do that, when you're in that space of inviting people on a journey, how do you decide which stories are the ones that are important to tell. [00:33:52] Evan Stern: Well, something that's important to me. Is that so often when we think about art and [00:34:00] culture, I mean, we think about palaces of civilization, like the mat, the British museum, the, the loop, but the truth is that art and culture is everywhere. And oftentimes some of the best of it comes from places that you're just not going to read about in glossy magazines. [00:34:20] You're not going to see about these places on Instagram. And it's really about exploring that, you know, Detroit gave us Motown, Clarksdale, Mississippi gave us the blues. Um, and, and for me, it's really kind of about seeking these, these places out. You know, if you read a, you know, if you read like a tourist guide book about Texas, they're going to tell you to go to the Alamo. [00:34:49] They're going to tell you to go to the river walk, do this, do that. Um, There's so much more to that. I mean, I had the [00:35:00] great honor of visiting a town called San Benito, um, which is about, you know, 15, 18 miles north of the border. Um, and you know, th this is, you know, if you look at this country, um, you know, the real Grandy valley, um, is just statistically, one of the, the poor regions, you know, there's been a lot. [00:35:21] Um, you know, uh, D population, you know, flight, whatnot, but this town of San Benito, um, was responsible for giving birth to the movement of music. Um, which is an incredible genre. Basically what happened is the, uh, the Mexican laborers down in south Texas, um, heard the music that was brought to the area by the checks, the Germans, they heard the Pocus, they heard the accordions, um, and they, they took that accordion music. [00:35:51] They took those polkas and they added their own lyrics and Spanish to them. They threw in guitar and they created this whole entire genre [00:36:00] of music. And, um, w w the story there is, is, is I knew that I wanted to. To do a piece, you know, on the border, you hear about the border a lot, um, in the news right now, but what is always lost in the noise surrounding all of that is the culture and the people who actually exist there. [00:36:19] Um, and I thought that kahuna really kind of provided a terrific, uh, opportunity just to explore kind of the beautiful th the, the beauty that exists there. And I heard that there was this museum in this town called the Texas kahuna music hall of fame. So I sent a message on Facebook. Um, I I'd heard that, uh, it was founded and owned by a man by the name of Ray Abila. [00:36:42] And a little while later, I got a call from his son, turned out, uh, that Mr. Abila, his father had died about seven months prior, but that if I wanted to go, um, visit the museum, that they would be honored to have me and I showed up. This museum, the small town in [00:37:00] Texas and the entire family was there because they wanted for me to know about their father. [00:37:07] Um, they wanted me to know about Cancun . Um, they found a, the president of a record label who specializes in this music so that he could be there with us too. And they had such pride and joy in, in sharing. And an honor that someone took the time to visit a place like, like San Benito. Um, it is an experience I will always treasure and never forget. [00:37:34] Izolda Trakhtenberg: That is so lovely. And I'm so glad that you got to tell that to, to tell that story, to show, to show, to sort of open the window, if you will, into San Benito and into this music. And I'm wondering something, this is a little off topic, but do you know who Alan Lomax was? I [00:37:54] Evan Stern: have heard the name. Um, please refresh my memory. [00:37:57] Izolda Trakhtenberg: Sure, sure. So he was an [00:38:00] ethnomusicologist and what he did with his whole career for 50 years, he traveled the world and he recorded music. And when video came along, video of mew, indigenous music, wherever he was, he tried to find the music from that place. And, uh, and there, when I worked at the national geographic site in many moons ago, he came over and he was like, Hey, I would love to put together a library that didn't happen with the geographic, but his daughter, after his death put up a website and there is a website that you can go and, uh, sort of see the music from anywhere. [00:38:35] You can hear the music from anywhere, you just type it in. And if it's there, if they got a recording of it, you'll be able to hear it. And so I'm wondering for posterity, what is your. W w w this library, if you will, that you're creating this travel log that you're creating in my mind, Alan Lomax, his version of it is providing us access to music from all [00:39:00] over the world that is, that could be lost. [00:39:03] And I'm wondering, what do you, what is your feeling about that with the stories that you're telling you mentioned earlier that these that's, their survival is not certain the different traditions and the, and even the, the, you know, the honky-tonks the places themselves, what are you going for here? What is your long-term vision for vanishing postcard? [00:39:24] Evan Stern: Well, so yes, so I'm collecting oral history and I, I think it is really important that we do have a record of it. Um, I think in some ways, uh, this is something perhaps of a bit of a call to arms. Um, you know, I, I want to say it's about shining a light on, you know, what is, what is still, what is still there. [00:39:47] Um, but we can still go to, but as I said, you know, some of this stuff might not be around for too much longer, so it's, it's really kind of about drawing attention to it so that we can preserve it. Um, you know, I look at my [00:40:00] hometown of Austin. Texas as a whole. Um, it is, it is changing at rapid pace. I don't think that change is something to be feared. [00:40:09] Um, in, in many ways I think it is something that, um, should be embraced, but we have to change and grow responsibly. Um, we have to ask, you know, why, w w what is it that people like about Austin? What is it about Texas that draws people there? Why do people keep coming? Um, and I do think that it is it's culture, and I believe that we, as a society need to do a lot more to protect the culture that surrounds us. [00:40:36] I mean, th th most of the places that I spotlight are small businesses and. You know, whenever a small business closes that, you know, has a great history behind it or fondness to it, you'll have all of these people come out of the woodwork saying, oh my goodness, this is horrible. This is the worst thing ever. [00:40:54] But my question always is, well, when was the last time you, you actually went there? Um, [00:41:00] I mean, it's really exhausting. It's a lot of hard work, um, to, to keep these places going. And if people get tired or they aren't making ends meet you, you can't blame them. Um, and this is an issue that you see happening in New York. [00:41:14] It's an issue you see happening in Texas, California, London, name it it's happening. Um, and so I do think that. You know, th th hopefully this series kind of makes people think, uh, a bit more about that. Um, and long-term, it is my hope, uh, that I can expand the map beyond Texas because, um, the, the issues that I feel are explored in this series are truly universal. [00:41:44] In fact, if you look at the analytics, um, most people tuning in and listening right now are actually listening from outside of Texas. Um, and so I think it's important to, uh, you know, I want to expand the map [00:42:00] and, um, you know, if I can do a part to draw attention to, you know, the, the, the beauty of a meal, American culture that surrounds us, um, you know, that's kind of what my goal is. [00:42:16] Izolda Trakhtenberg: And it's a great goal. And I'm so glad that you said that you eventually, cause that was going to be, my next question was, do you want to take it outside of Texas? And I mean, Texas covering Texas can be a lifetime's work cause it's such a big place with such a varied set of, of uh, peoples and cultures. [00:42:32] And yet I love the notion of, of that, what you said, finding those small businesses, finding those people, who aren't, the ones trumpeting themselves and giving them a chance to, to shine. I think that's amazing and wonderful that you're doing that. And I love the notion. And if you could. What would you go next? [00:42:53] Evan Stern: Uh, well, I, I have a dream. I would love to drive route 66 from Oklahoma to [00:43:00] California, and I would love to collect stories and oral histories along the way. Um, I think that route 66, so much of why, um, it kind of occupies this mythic status, um, is because of the timing. Um, you know, there were other highways that were built before or after there were larger ones. [00:43:19] Um, but I think, you know, if you journey route 60, I've never done it, but I, I have to think that if you drive route 66, I mean, you were following in the steps of the, the Okies who migrated to California because of the dust bowl and the great depression. Um, it was an incredible artery during world war II. [00:43:38] So there's that history as well. Um, then it kind of. You know, in encapsulates that golden age of American travel and in the late forties and fifties, then it was decommissioned. And, you know, there was a lot of abandonment that happened and kind of, what does that say? Um, you know, about the American dream, you [00:44:00] know, it was it, uh, and, and so there's a lot that I would like to explore and taking that journey, um, beyond that, I would also love to take a trip to Mississippi sometime, uh, something that fascinates me about Mississippi. [00:44:11] I think, um, the, the writer really Maura said that Mississippi is America's Ireland. Um, if you look at it, it has produced the most incredible Canon of just literary lions, um, William Fox. Um, Richard Wright, Eudora, Welty. Um, they were all Mississippians and Mississippi continues to produce an incredible writers there. [00:44:36] There's a wonderful storytelling tradition attached to Mississippi. Um, and I would love to see, uh, what, what I could get there. [00:44:47] Izolda Trakhtenberg: I love it. I think that's amazing. First of all, I'd driven along 66 and you will, you will love it. Love it, love it. And, uh, you know, Mississippi and the south in general [00:45:00] has a rich storytelling culture. I have every time I spend time in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, that, that part of the country there, if you, if you set a spell, you will, you will get amazing stories. [00:45:16] And often you don't, it doesn't take a lot of prompting. So I'm I'm you said earlier that, that it's just about sort of talking to people the way you would talk to them. The, I guess the question is, have you had people who just say Nope, Nope. Not doing it. And if so, what have you done if that particular story is important to you or do you just move on to the next person? [00:45:38] Oh, [00:45:38] Evan Stern: absolutely. Well, there, there is. Um, you know, so the. The third episode that you'll hear in the series. Um, I did at a honky-tonk called arche blue, silver dollar, um, in this town called Bandera, Texas. Um, it's a fantastic place. Um, again, it was pre pandemic. Um, so, you know, I showed up there unannounced and I really wanted to [00:46:00] talk to, uh, archi blue. [00:46:01] He's he's the owner, he's in his eighties. He performs there every Saturday night. Um, I thought, you know, th this guy is a legend. I've got to talk to him, got to talk to him. He wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. Wouldn't give me an inch refuse to let me record him. Um, and you know, he was cordial when I talked to him, we're talking, you know, you're one word answers, you try everything. [00:46:24] Um, but what happened is, is, uh, every, I, I talked to everyone. That I could find around him and everybody had a story about archi that they wanted to share and, um, what resulted in. And so his refusal became part of the story itself. Um, but in talking to everyone who knew and loved him and had stories to share about him, you really got a terrific, uh, portrait that wouldn't have existed. [00:46:56] Otherwise that that I think is entirely charming. [00:47:00] Um, and when that happened, I had to remind myself that one of my very, very favorite, um, essays of all time, uh, was written by, uh, gates Elise. Um, in 1965, he was given an assignment to interview Frank Sinatra for Esquire magazine and Frank Sinatra completely refused to talk to him. [00:47:23] Um, but what he ended up doing was he interviewed all the hangers on everyone in his, his entourage. And, uh, to this day, people say that it is the most realistic. Portrait of Frank Sinatra that has ever been captured. Um, and so I would recommend to anyone who finds themselves in that position to think of that story and, you know, maybe read that story, uh, because that's something that I draw tremendous inspiration from.[00:48:00] [00:48:03] Izolda Trakhtenberg: It's so interesting. I have a friend who, uh, who's a PR expert and she talks about the difference between marketing and PR Gloria, Charles, her name. And she says marketing is when you come to people and you say, Hey, I'm great. But PR is when someone else goes, you know what? That person they're great. And as long as it's someone you trust, it weighs more than if the person is trumping again themselves, you know? [00:48:31] And so there's something to what you said that kind of reminded me of that, that notion of the other people around Frank Sinatra or, or, or archi, uh, being the ones who tell their tale. And I, I guess I'm wondering within that, I've asked you about the wildest, what is the story that has touched you the most? [00:48:55] The one that made you go, ah, wow. I had no [00:49:00] idea. [00:49:02] Evan Stern: Well, for me, the, the episode that, that, that has the most personal heart for me, um, is, is the second one. What happened is I went to this dance hall. Um, I, I, I knew that I wanted to do a piece on dance halls. Um, in, in Texas, you know, everyone always talks, always writes about Greenhall or Lukin Bach. [00:49:27] You know, those are the big dance halls, but there are many, many, many more others out there. And there was one I discovered that I'd never been to called SEF Shaq hall. It's in this teeny community, um, called Seton, Texas. It's about eight miles outside of a town called temple. It's a community of about 40 people. [00:49:48] And, um, and there's this old dance hall there called SEF shuck hall. That is pretty much trapped in time. Um, by most accounts, it is now the oldest, [00:50:00] um, family run dance hall in Texas. You know, it's a family that, that owns it. This family has, has always owned and run it. And, um, I went there and I wanted to talk to its owner, Alice, who is 89 years old. [00:50:19] Um, and, uh, you know, I had actually called an advanced to ask if I could come and talk to her. She said, sure, well, I got there. And I said, well, I'm here to talk to Alice. And it turned out, you know, that morning she took a fall and they had to take her to the emergency room. Um, and you know, and it kind of, you know, you could feel the way. [00:50:41] In that situation, you know, what, what happens to this place? Um, you know, without, without Alice here. And I ended up talking to her daughter-in-law and son, um, and you know, they're, they're committed to keeping it going. Um, but you could feel like the, you [00:51:00] know, the, you know, I, I feel like that situation kind of infused the episode with, with weight. [00:51:06] Um, but beyond that, um, you know, I listened to, to what I had initially, and there was something missing. Um, I said to myself, I said, you know, I'm doing a lot of talking here. I'd like to find someone else who could do some, some talking for. Um, and there there's an association called the Texas dance hall preservation. [00:51:29] And I found the woman who was working at the time as their executive director, because I wanted to talk to her just to kind of get some more historic perspective on dance halls. You know, I was talking about the history. I think it's better if someone else can talk about the history, other than me, that actually knows more. [00:51:45] And, you know, I talked earlier about how, you know, you have those moments where someone just kind of, you know, tells a story or share something that just beautifully illuminates everything. And, um, [00:52:00] I was talking to her and I asked, I said, you know, there are so many causes out there in this world that are, that are worth devoting attention to. [00:52:09] I said, you know, why are dance halls important to you? And she said it was, it became an incredibly emotional interview that I was not expecting at all. But she said that, you know, those places have a lot of heart and that her fear was that we're getting away from that as a society. And, you know, she, you know, ends up crying. [00:52:34] She's saying, you know, these places, you know, people go there, you know, it's not just about the fun. It's, it's not just about the dancing. Um, it's about, you know, it's about cleaning the roof. It's about cleaning the toilet. And she says, I see so many people working so hard to keep these places going and, you know, and of course it is perfectly illustrated what the shoe lock family, you know, we're, we're [00:53:00] doing, you know, the, the, the daughter-in-law the son, you know, they, they work, you know, five days, they do not take days off. [00:53:07] You know, they have regular jobs that they keep Monday through Friday, and then they're there on the weekends. And, um, I think that it beautifully exemplified their story. In addition to just about every other person that I talked to in the series as a whole, [00:53:30] Izolda Trakhtenberg: that is beautiful. And I'm so grateful that you shared that, that moment of, of talking to her and also the story of. Dance halls in general or, or anything that we do because we love it. Um, you know, we, we do it because whatever it is, whatever that thing is that you do, because you love it. And particularly these places where one of the things that I think Evan, that, that you've highlighted, that I think is so [00:54:00] incredible is that you've taken, you've highlighted places that aren't going out for fame. [00:54:08] You know, these are people and places that are just living, doing their thing and living their lives day in and day out, year in and year out. And they're not going to be a celebrity. They're not trying to be world famous for example. And yet you've shown the light on them. And I think that's so it's powerful because of that, because they're living their lives and doing something hopefully that they love, like with the dance hall story. [00:54:35] And they're not looking for accolades and yet you've given them a platform. And I'm so grateful that you've [00:54:43] Evan Stern: done that. Well, I will say it's not even that. I think a lot of them as well, feel a responsibility to the people who go to these places, you know, like a dive bar, isn't just a place to grab a beer. [00:54:58] You know, a dive [00:55:00] bar represents an entire community. Um, you know, a dive bar, a dance hall. These are all places where people go to, to belong. That's that's, that's what, all of the, that's another through line that I think these places have in common, you know, whether it's a barbecue joint, a dive bar, a dance hall, people go to these places for community and for places to belong. [00:55:25] And I think that it's, it's, it's important to highlight that aspect as well. [00:55:31] Izolda Trakhtenberg: Absolutely. I agree. Yeah. Interestingly because people come and go, like you said, there are a lot of people who, who come to Texas, uh, especially Austin has, has ballooned. Uh, I guess the question that's come that's upper. Most of my mind right now is culturally the culture of places changes. [00:55:54] Right? And so, as the culture evolves, I [00:56:00] know that you're a lot of what vanishing postcards is about is, is capturing that before it goes away before it's no longer in its current form. Are there things that you've done that have been, uh, sort of in the process of changing or something is over and something new's coming to take its place? [00:56:21] And if so, what have those things been? [00:56:25] Evan Stern: Um, you mean my work or places I've been. [00:56:30] Izolda Trakhtenberg: I guess I'm not asking the question very well. I'm just wondering about culturally, your vanishing postcards project is focused on sort of the smaller, uh, heart, very heartfelt places in people in Texas now and perhaps, and perhaps hopefully someday elsewhere. [00:56:51] And as, as the culture changes in those places or for those dance halls, have you captured in any of the [00:57:00] episodes that you've done? That change taking place? Absolutely. [00:57:04] Evan Stern: Um, the, the very first place that I went to, um, was a bar called, uh, the, the dry Creek cafe. Um, it's been there for about 70 years. Um, it, when it first opened in the early 1950s, it really basically sat on the edge of the country. [00:57:22] Now, not only is it no longer country, um, it's now pretty much surrounded by mansion's. Um, it's now basically it's this ramshackle dilapidated dive that is surrounded by some of the priciest real estate in all of Texas. Um, but this bar has survived. Um, and I think it's one of the few places that you can go where you're reminded that, you know, before the tech, uh, millionaires invaded the Hills, the Hills were actually home to Cedar choppers, which was this, um, Appalachian subculture. [00:57:55] Um, and, uh, the, the very first person that I interviewed. [00:58:00] In, um, in Texas for the series was angel their bartender. Um, this was a tough day game, you know, raspy voice, you know, just changed smoker, you know, just, just fabulous, you know, just tough as nails, woman. Um, she was incredibly, um, reticent to, uh, to speak with me again, getting her to talk on the record and letting along to record her. [00:58:28] Um, just took every ounce of charm that I could possibly muster. But when she found out that I was okay with cussing, um, she opened right up. She let the F bombs fly. Um, we had a terrific time, um, and, uh, very sadly I think about, um, four months or so. Um, after I, I interviewed her, she died. Um, what was remarkable about angel is, um, as I said, the place opened in, um, I think it was 1950. [00:58:59] [00:59:00] Three. Um, she was only the third bartender to ever work there. Wow. Um, and so I'm incredibly grateful that I, you know, captured her, her voice and I have that record of her. Um, but you know, you have to ask, you know, when, when someone like that goes, you know, um, you know, what does that, how does that change a place? [00:59:22] You know, what does that do? I was actually just back in Austin last week. Um, and I went there to visit the place to, you know, just see if there was some additional footage I could get that would help bring the season two to a close, um, just to kind of see how that change had affected things. Um, and you know, so there, there are analogies, there, there are now like a few bartenders there who are like trading duties and whatnot. [00:59:48] Um, but I think what's kind of beautiful is that those who have filled in, you know, were all regulars, who, who knew and loved and cared about the bar. Um, [01:00:00] and, uh, you know, they dedicated a section of the bar to angel where they have, you know, her pictures and some things that she loved. Um, and, um, it was, it was just kind of interesting and reassuring to see, um, how, you know, yes, you know, when a beloved, you know, figured, uh, leaves, it's hard and it's challenging. [01:00:21] Um, but if the community is there. It will come. It will find a way to continue. At least for now. I'm grateful to see that, to know that the dry Creek is still there and that those who love it, um, are doing their part to, uh, to keep it going. [01:00:38] Izolda Trakhtenberg: I'm so glad to hear that story. That is wonderful. Evan. I want to thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me about this. [01:00:46] It's, it's such an important topic because it isn't one that, that we tend to focus on. So I'm really grateful that you took the time to tell me about vanishing postcards and to tell me about the culture and the people that you are, [01:01:00] uh, Capturing, if you will, for, for all of us, for all of us to enjoy. And I, and if you're listening to this, you need to go check out vanishing postcards. [01:01:08] I've listened to a few episodes and it's fabulous and amazing. Evan. If you wouldn't mind, I would love it. If you would give whatever social media. Uh, that you have so that if people want to find you, that they can. [01:01:22] Evan Stern: Absolutely. So the, um, you know, if you search, uh, vanishing postcards on Instagram, uh, you'll find it there. [01:01:29] Um, it also has a, a, a, a Facebook page, just search vanishing postcards. It should turn up. Um, you can also find me on Instagram as well. I'm at Evan stern NYC. Um, and, um, you know, I thank you so much and oh, and, but most important, most crucially, um, you know, please go find, listen to subscribe to vanishing postcards. [01:01:54] Um, since this is a podcast, uh, you know, whatever, you're listening to this on, I'm quite [01:02:00] confident that you'll find us there. We're on apple, we're on Spotify, we're on all the, uh, you know, whatever platform is out there. We're more than likely on, and I'd be most honored if you'd consider giving us a little. [01:02:12] Izolda Trakhtenberg: Awesome. And I will actually put all of that in the show notes so that if you're listening to this and you've seen the show notes, you'll be seeing the links to all of it. I just, people learn differently. So I like giving both the audio and the sort of, you can read it visual for it. Uh, Evan, again, I'm really grateful that you took the time to chat with me. [01:02:32] Me and I, I have one last question, if that's okay. Of course. It's a question I ask everybody who comes on the show and it's a silly question, but I find that it yields some profound results. Yeah. And the question is this, if you could sky write anything for the whole world to see what would you. [01:02:53] Evan Stern: What would I say for the whole world to see? [01:02:58] Oh my [01:03:00] goodness. Yeah. So I feel like I need to say something profound, like Buddha or something like that now, or Yoda. My goodness. [01:03:11] Izolda Trakhtenberg: I've had people say, eat your veggies. So it does not have to be, [01:03:16] Evan Stern: I mean, it is a cliche. Um, I've, I've heard it many times. Um, but I, I do believe that there is something to be said for the fact that if I were to write this in the sky, I would say luck is the result of preparation meeting opportunity. [01:03:34] I absolutely believe that to be true. Um, I always do my best to be, uh, you know, prepared and, uh, educate myself and, you know, and, and be ready so that, um, you know, when opportunity comes, you know, luck can, can happen. [01:03:53] Izolda Trakhtenberg: I love that. I think that's a great way to end this episode, Evan stern, you are fabulous, and I'm [01:04:00] so glad that you were here. [01:04:01] Thank you. This is the innovative mindset podcast. You have been listening to my wonderful conversation with Evan stern, who is the host of the vanishing postcards podcast, which of course, you know, you need to check out if you're liking what you're hearing, do me a favor, leave a review, let me know comment. [01:04:20] However you'd like to get in touch. I would appreciate it until next time. This is again, Izolda Trakhtenberg reminding you to listen, learn, laugh, and love a whole lot. [01:04:36] thanks so much for joining me today. I really appreciate you being here. Please subscribe to the podcast if you're new and if you like what you're hearing, please review it and rate it and let other people know. And if you'd like to be a sponsor of the show, I'd love to meet you on patrion.com/innovative mindset. [01:04:53] I also have lots of exclusive goodies to share just with the show supporters there today's episode was produced by [01:05:00] Izolda Trakhtenberg and his copyright 2021 as always, please remember, this is for educational and entertainment purposes. Only past performance does not guarantee future results, although we can always hope until next time, keep living in your innovative mindset. * I am a Brain.fm affiliate. If you purchase it through the above links and take the 20% off, I'll get a small commission. And please remember, I'll never recommend a product or service I don't absolutely love!
Hello! It's the mythical story of birth what brings us together today. An experience shared by every one of us, but one we rarely ponder. Did you know each baby grows its own placenta within its Mother? I revisit the world my mother and father assembled to welcome me, and I release the 51 Linas I have been and welcome the 52nd version. With a poem by Walt Whitman, I invite you to keep your eyes open to Miracles, and to open your heart to the wonderful spirals that our lives are weaving as days become months and months, years of remembrance.
If you were offered a life-changing do-over, would you take it? That's the central question at the heart of Miranda Cowley Heller's stunning debut novel, The Paper Palace. Miranda joins us on the show to talk about impossible choices, her love of Jane Austen, getting out of your own way, what poetry taught her about writing prose, and more. Featured books: The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller, Light Years by James Salter and 99 Stories of God by Joy Williams. Featured poets: Dorianne Laux, Sharon Olds, James Wright, Walt Whitman and Percy Bysshe Shelley. Produced/hosted by Miwa Messer and engineered by Harry Liang. Poured Over is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher. New episodes land Tuesdays and Thursdays. Follow us here for new episodes Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Today's Quotation is care of Emily Dickinson.Listen in!Subscribe to the Quarantine Tapes at quarantinetapes.com or search for the Quarantine Tapes on your favorite podcast app! Emily Dickinson was born on December 10, 1830, in Amherst, Massachusetts. Dickinson's poetry was heavily influenced by the Metaphysical poets of seventeenth-century England, as well as her reading of the Book of Revelation and her upbringing in a Puritan New England town, which encouraged a Calvinist, orthodox, and conservative approach to Christianity.She admired the poetry of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, as well as John Keats. Though she was dissuaded from reading the verse of her contemporary Walt Whitman by rumors of its disgracefulness, the two poets are now connected by the distinguished place they hold as the founders of a uniquely American poetic voice. While Dickinson was extremely prolific as a poet and regularly enclosed poems in letters to friends, she was not publicly recognized during her lifetime. The first volume of her work was published posthumously in 1890 and the last in 1955. She died in Amherst in 1886.From https://poets.org/poet/emily-dickinsonFor more information about Emily Dickinson:“Emily Dickinson”: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/emily-dickinson
Today's Quotation is care of Mary Oliver.Listen in!Subscribe to the Quarantine Tapes! Mary Oliver was born on September 10, 1935, in Maple Heights, Ohio. In the mid-1950s, Oliver attended both Ohio State University and Vassar College, though she did not receive a degree. Her first collection of poems, No Voyage, and Other Poems, was published in 1963. She went on to publish more than fifteen collections of poetry.Oliver, who cited Walt Whitman as an influence, is best known for her awe-filled, often hopeful, reflections on and observations of nature. Her honors include an American Academy of Arts & Letters Award, a Lannan Literary Award, the Poetry Society of America's Shelley Memorial Prize and Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.Oliver held the Catharine Osgood Foster Chair for Distinguished Teaching at Bennington College until 2001. She lived for over forty years in Provincetown, Massachusetts, with her partner Molly Malone Cook, a photographer and gallery owner. After Cook's death in 2005, Oliver later moved to the southeastern coast of Florida. Oliver died of cancer at the age of eighty-three in Hobe Sound, Florida, on January 17, 2019.From https://poets.org/poet/mary-oliverFor more information about Mary Oliver:“Mary Oliver: Listening to the World”: https://onbeing.org/programs/mary-oliver-listening-to-the-world/“Mary Oliver Helped Us Stay Amazed”:https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/mary-oliver-helped-us-stay-amazed
In this kooky episode Maggie (@softie.mag), Basil (@whagever) and Gara (@garararararara) discuss our dog park crushes, gender envy, WLW, sucking titties, haircuts, Walt Whitman and more!SOPHOMORE COMEDY SHOW RSVP: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sophomore-comedy-show-tickets-162874021583THEME SONG IS 'CRYBABY' BY DESTROY BOYS (@destroyboysband) ALBUM ART BY ANNA BOULOGSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/garalonning)