Monthly Archives: June 2011

Traditional vs. “Modern” Societies

I’m reading a book that involves tradional societies, African in this case. And, of course, what you first notice when reading about traditional societies or visiting them is the emphasis on family–large extended families who are together through thick and thin and often stay in one house in fairly large numbers.

We have that here too, I hear you saying. Well, yes, but it is different. We also have the “nuclear family”–what a strange choice of word. And families often live far apart and don’t see each other that often. But it is easier to have an “individual destiny” if that is important for you–perhaps especially easier for women to have an “individual destiny”.

So traditional societies seem to have greater tolerance for family members being close to them in large numbers, and modern societies have greater tolerance for people’s desires to be independent.

Is there a third way? Could we learn from each other?


Sorrow and Friends

So, generally, whether we think about it or not, we have what I shall call “entertainment value” for our friends. Our friends love us, of course, but some of that has to do with entertainment value. Why would you not want to have friends who are fun and entertaining?

Sometimes terrible things happen to you, and you tend to feel like you shouldn’t bother your friends and that, obviously, your entertainment value has gone down. So you begin to isolate yourself which is probably the last thing that you need to do when you’re in a lot of pain. I’m allowing for extrovert/introvert differences here. One of my friends and I were both going through very painful things at the same time. We got together anyway, and we had a great time even though we were processing difficult things. And even our entertainment value was bigher than either of us would have imagined

So unless you’re very introverted and MUST be alone in times of stress, go be with you friends when sorrow has settled in at your door.

And CELEBRATE with your friends when there is something to celebrate.

Another Thought On Art

What inspires us? What keeps us going?
The beauty of the language we write, the beauty of the language our friends and compatriots write, the love and admiration of our friends, their patience about our work, their recognition–along with our own–that certain things must be said! Go to Kazantzakis, go to REPORT TO GRECO. Swallow it whole! Read especially the beginning of the book and the beginning of Chapter 16: “Return to Crete. Knossos”.

Art–The Importance of It

I saw two movies last weekend–Woody Allen’s: “Midnight in Paris” and Werner Herzog’s “In The Cave of Lost Dreams”. They made the same point; human beings have an intense, almost obsessive need to make a pattern of or gain an insight into the lives they have lived, and by an act of the imagination (whether something is autobiographical or not is irrelevant), they create a work of art.
As far as I can see, from my experience (which includes more than a quarter of a century teaching Creative Writing plus my own works of art), this is in everyone if you can loosen them up to do it.

As many people know who may be reading this blog, I teach “communities of writers” as opposed to “systems of competing egos”. The results are that I produce groups of people who are doing extraordinary work–each on an individual basis. No one is competing with anyone else, and occasionally, one of my classes levitates on the sheer energy of what is happening. This is very exciting.

I am a person who believes in art and loves it and hates the “business of art”.
People make art for different reasons; some people are saving their souls.
I decided to give “Suck The Juice Out Of Every Moment” away to the universe, to whoever wanted it. It is free. All you have to do is download it. But is it art? Not really. It’s more a life philosophy book, but there’s art in it, and you can go to my other website: by means of the link if you want, and it will tell you about my art.

It’s extremely important that people find a way of expressing themselves–writing, the visual arts, dance, music, the culinary arts, carpentry–whatever grabs you. Bye.