Sunday, September 1, 2013

What if you're writing about the last person on Earth?

Not the last person you want to meet at the mall, but really, truly, the lone survivor on a ruined world.  What changes would that person undergo mentally?  What might they see, do, and think?

Often, nonfiction books can give us some clues.  For instance, Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks is about actual hallucinations, their characteristics, and the underlying medical or physical conditions associated with them.  Sacks is a neurologist who writes clear, interesting and informative prose; the book deals with drug- and sensory-deprivation-induced hallucinations as well as those associated with medical conditions such as dementia or blindness.  It doesn't deal with hallucinations associated with mental illness, which is actually rather scary, because you find yourself thinking Anyone, even me, could suddenly begin to hallucinate.  That's not a happy thought.

However terrifying the implications might be, books like this are especially helpful to SF and fantasy writers, because so often we write about people in extreme or unusual circumstances.  Perhaps our main character is the last living person on a spaceship or a dying world.  What would he see and hear?  Perhaps one of our characters has just imbibed an unusual drink given to her by one of the fae.  What would she experience?

Read Hallucinations, and you can make better, more believable guesses.

Learning is an important part of living the creative life.
Most creative people are curious,
and would probably describe themselves as lifelong learners and/or readers.
What kind of learner and reader are you? 

Friday, August 2, 2013

RIP Mom - A Light Has Gone from My World

Amelia Marie Quinn, 89, was born in Johnstown, PA on Dec. 13, 1923.  A long-time resident of Washington, DC, Bladensburg, MD, Tucson, AZ and Mesa, AZ, Amelia's last years were spent in Sierra Vista, AZ.  She passed away on July 28 at Kindred Hacienda Nursing Home in Sierra Vista.

During WWII, Amelia worked at the Post Office and the War Office in Washington. DC.  Later, she was the office manager of a moving company and the information operator for the City of Tucson. 

In addition to being a hard worker, Amelia was a devoted daughter, wife and mother whose family meant the world to her.  Her hobbies included crocheting, reading, and spending time with her grandchildren.  She was active in church and service organizations such as the Bladensburg Volunteer Fire Department's Women's Auxiliary, the Elks, the Eagles, and the Mesa Senior Center.

Amelia was preceded in death by her parents, John and Amelia Nahtigal, and her husband of over 50 years, Philip Patrick Quinn.  She is survived by her children Philip Quinn, Eleanor Hockaday, James Quinn, and Tina Durham; seven grandchildren; and one great-grandson.

The family wishes to extend our thanks to Dr. VanDivort, the staff of American Geriatric Enterprise, and Kindred Hacienda for their professional, compassionate and loving care during our mother's final illnesses.

A memorial service will be held at 4:30 PM on Monday, August 12, at Southlawn Mortuary in Tucson, AZ.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Party's Over (or the Stunning Conclusion to "Trust, Love and Include? I don't think so")

In our previous episode... 

My husband and I were invited to play music at my co-worker's Christmas party.  My ever-lovin' hubby heard the pros play, and chickened out.  Yeah, that's right, the man chickened out - hid behind a potted plant and let me publicly make a fool of myself trying to play by ear with someone I'd never practiced with.

Here's how I saw it then:

Normal people lie.  If he didn't feel comfortable performing in front of amazing musicians, he could have said, "I have a headache.  Sorry.  Let's go home."

Honest people tell the truth.  He could come out of his hidey-hole and whispered, "I didn't practice enough.  I don't feel comfortable doing this." 

Courageous people enter the fray and do their best.  Honorable people keep their promises.

Cowards and oathbreakers hide behind potted plants.

This is what I said:

"I am never going anywhere with you again!"

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Importance of Perspective

Before we continue with "Trust, Love and Include?  I Don't Think So", allow me to clarify one thing:



molehill ≠ mountain

Monday, April 29, 2013

More on "The Christmas Party from Hell"

 "Love, Trust and Include?  I don't think so," Part 2

We were at my friend's Christmas party, where my husband and I had been asked to play Christmas carols.  My flute was in my hand, but where was my DH?

Carrying my flute, I checked the living room, kitchen, and bathroom, growing increasingly anxious.  My hubby was nowhere to be found.  Sensing that the guests were becoming restless, our resourceful musical host asked, "Would you like me to play piano for you instead?"

Now, of course, being older and wiser, I know that "Sure, why not?" and "What the heck?" are generally followed by "Oh sh*t."  However, then I was still young and naive, so I answered, "Sure, why not?" and headed toward the piano.

The jazz pianist noticed the music in my hand and gave me a dark and forbidding look. "You don't play by ear?"

Oh, what the heck.  I could play along with my favorite albums, if I turned the stereo up loud enough.  Also, how could anybody not know Christmas carols?  I'd been singing them since I was two years old.  "I guess I could try playing by ear," I said.

Before I can even get the flute to my lips, his fingers were flying over the keys.  He had started playing without even telling me what key he was in - and that key, whatever it was, had way more flats and sharps than the songs I knew from choir or my Christmas songbook.

I soon discovered that it's not easy to perform live with someone you don't know, in an unfamiliar key and in an unfamiliar style.  My brain shut down; I forgot everything I knew about music and music theory.  It was truly awful.

After the second song, the pianist leaned toward me and said very quietly, "There are two ladies with really lovely voices who want to sing next, and I think it would be better if they - and I - did these songs without you."

Cheeks burning, I nodded and smiled - pretending to be the perfect lady my mother had wanted me to be.  "Thanks for playing with me.  I'm glad we gave it a try."  Just take me out and shoot me, I am so glad we are done here, yes, I really am.  I fled to the empty kitchen, tears stinging my eyelids, to return my flute to its battered case and put my music back in the bag.

Behind me, a clear soprano and a warm alto floated effortlessly over rich, jazzy chords.  Those two sisters knew the songs, they knew their stuff, and they could do it all - harmonize, hit those flattened fifths, add a bit of scat.   They were really good.  I, clearly, was not.

However, my failures weren't the most important issue at the moment.  I still didn't know where my husband was.  He couldn't possibly have just abandoned me.  Something awful must have happened.  He was probably on the phone with the babysitter or already starting the car.  I had to find him right away.  I had to pull myself together.

All right, it was a bad performance, but it's not the end of the world.  Everything is going to be okay.  I squared my shoulders and walked back into the living room where the two beautiful sisters were singing their beautiful, beautiful songs.

As I stepped though the doorway, I saw my husband.  He was sitting on the stairs, hiding behind a palm tree in a large ceramic pot.  From the look on his face, I guessed - correctly - that he had been sitting there the entire time that I had been making a fool of myself.  That man is dead meat, I thought.

To be continued...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Prelude to Exclusion - in F# Minor (Day 28 of Lent)

"Love, Trust and Include"?  I don't think so.



A co-worker whose husband was a gifted jazz pianist graciously invited us to a Christmas party at her home.  "Bring your flute and play if you want," she said.  Of course, I told her, "I'd love to!"  After all, my Darling Husband plays piano beautifully, and we perform our favorite carols every year at church.  We know them so well that we don't even have to rehearse together.  Just get out the music and play - we're set.

On the fateful day, I dressed to the nines and packed up my music, stand, and flute.  We arrived at a home beautifully decorated in pale white and creams, with a gleaming ebony baby grand as the centerpiece of a storybook home.  No dust, no clutter, House Beautiful before our very eyes.

Instantly, all my shame issues stretched their scrawny necks and began to scream for worms.  But I smacked their pin-feathered heads until they hid themselves deep in the nest of my heart, and I began to work the room because, you know, that's what you do at parties.  My DH, being far less social, wandered off toward the hors d'oeuvres because, you know, that's what he does at parties.

Our host sat down at the piano and began to play from memory - jazzy chords and artful improvisation on familiar holiday themes.  Soon my friend came up to me and said, "It's your turn.  Where's your flute?"

I found my instrument, but not my husband.  Inexplicably, my DH had vanished.

To be continued....

Friday, March 8, 2013

Maybe Random, But Never Small (Day 24 of Lent)

“There is no small act of kindness.
Every compassionate act makes large the world.”

“We're all human, aren't we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving.”
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 

"Family First" by Whitney Houston

Thursday, March 7, 2013

So Why Not "Do It For One"? (Day 23 of Lent)

A few days before He died, Jesus told His disciples:
“Then the King [Jesus] will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

"Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’ " (Matt. 25:34-40, The Message).

Here's how Jesus ended the teaching session:

When Jesus finished saying these things, he told his disciples, “You know that Passover comes in two days. That’s when the Son of Man will be betrayed and handed over for crucifixion.” (Matt. 26:1,2, The Message).

When you know that you're about to die, you also know it's your last chance to say the things that really matter.  You don't chat about the weather.  And what Jesus chose to talk about was "Do it for one"- because caring for "someone overlooked or ignored" is caring for Jesus.

Yeah, that's right - feed a hungry person, and you feed Jesus.  Take care of a sick person, and you take care of Jesus.

Let that sink in for a minute, then go back to Pantano Christian Church's Values and Expectations for Ministry.

So when I cook for my husband (who, as the unfortunate spouse of a somewhat obsessive-compulsive, ADHD writer/artist is often "overlooked or ignored"), I am feeding Jesus.  When I take up the slack because of my husband's back and neck issues, I'm caring for the sick and caring for the Jesus.  Even cleaning the toilet is an expression of love for God.

"Doing it for one" is really "Doing it for Jesus."

Ministry doesn't start in the foyer or the sanctuary; ministry begins at home.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Excellent Teacher, Amazing Friend (Day 22 of Lent)

What sets Jesus apart from all the other men and women who changed the world?

It was His concern for the individual.

I can hear someone saying, "No, it was because He was the Son of God and He rose from the dead!"

Yeah, well, I'm sure that helped His reputation a lot.  But Jesus did more than found a religion with millions of followers.  He also cared about each individual person.  Centuries before Mother Teresa, Jesus understood what it meant to change the world one person at a time:

  • Jesus told stories about a shepherd willing to leave his entire flock in order to find a single lost sheep. 
  • He called Himself "the good shepherd" who was "willing to lay down His life for the sheep."
  • He saw a widow at her only son's funeral and, motivated by compassion, brought her dead son back to life.
  • When His friend Lazarus died, Jesus wept, then brought Lazarus back from the dead too.
  • Even though Jesus preached to huge crowds, fed thousands, and healed countless people, He wasn't all about crowds and popularity.  Despite the hundreds of people who followed Him everywhere, Jesus found time to mentor twelve individuals.
  • Even within that tiny group, Jesus had favorites - Peter, James and John - who were with Him during the Transfiguration and also in the Garden of Gethsemane before His arrest and crucifixion.
  • As He was dying, He made sure His mother would be cared for after His death.
  • Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends," and then that's exactly what He did.

"To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world."

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Earth-Shaking Failures? (Day 21 of Lent)

What do Jesus Christ, Mikhail Gorbachev and Adolf Hitler have in common?

These three are among the top ten "100 People Who Changed the World," according to

Jesus, as Teacher and Messiah, changed history forever, and His life, death and resurrection continue to impact lives - a surprising legacy from a man who appeared to be the son of a poor carpenter, hung out with fishermen, and preached in an isolated corner of a huge empire.

Mikhail Gorbachev was a Soviet leader who introduced Perestroika (reform that brought greater efficiency, accountability and flexibility to the Soviet economy) and Glasnost (political reform leading to a more democratic society with greater intellectual and religious freedoms).  His wife, Raisa Gorbachev, went on to become an influential figure in international relationships as well as a trusted adviser to her husband, who discussed "all important issues" with her first.  Together, their political successes set the stage for the end of the Cold War and for the fall of the Soviet Union he loved and served.

Adolf Hitler, of course, is one of the most infamous dictators in history, whose ambitions led to the tragedy of World War II and the death of millions who perished in the Holocaust.  If anyone in history deserved to be called a hater, it is Adolf Hitler.  He died by his own hand, leaving his nation and a continent in ruins.

Gorbachev and Hitler were men with enormous ambitions, one who had a vision for democracy and the other, a vision for a thousand-year empire.  They had big plans which changed the lives of millions, one for the better and one for the worse.

Jesus changed millions of lives too, but not because of His skill as a politician.  Instead of joining up with the Jewish authorities, Jesus infuriated them until they got Him arrested and executed.  Just before He was killed, He told Pontius Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world."  Instead of delivering His people from Roman domination, Jesus got Himself killed on a cross.  His political career was a total failure.  He left some nice quotes, but no one expected Jesus Bar-Joseph to make the Top Ten list of People Who Changed the World.

So why do we remember Him as a big game-changer?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Progress Report: Day 9 of Lent - Addiction, Obsession & Isolation

It looks like I do them all equally well.   Sigh....

First:  Yes, I do have Internet addiction issues

Who could have guessed?  I decided I can't just give up games for Lent, because I was utterly and completely dysfunctional without them.  However, obviously this is an issue I'm going to have to deal with long-term.



Second:  My church's "Values and Expecations" for ministry apply to marriage, too.

Like, who would have guessed?  If I follow these in dealing with every relationship, including how I interact with my spouse, everyone will be happier, including me.

I have always struggled with this concept, largely because my childhood taught me that being involved with family is hazardous:  connection can lead to relatives moving in with you, asking for money, or tempting you into a labyrinth of impossible demands and manipulative emotional abuse.  Instinctively, I attempted to follow my father's model of emotional detachment through deliberate immersion in books, photography and art.  My unconscious goal has been to harden my heart into a rock around which the turbulent waters of human relationship may flow however they wish, without really affecting my inner life.  Holiday get-togethers are fine; real relationships with family members are scarier than s***.

If you've seen my mother's skill at working the "drama triangle" to her advantage, you know why intimacy is so terrifying for me.  I've worked hard not to be a manipulative, passive-aggressive human being and mom; I pray God that I have succeeded.

However, trust is difficult for me, and thirty-some years of living with my darling husband's passive-aggressive behaviors have done nothing to reassure me about the benefits of intimate relationships.

If intimacy is too scary, how do I meet my relational needs?  I am regularly involved with relative strangers in a formal setting:  church, writer's groups, the SCA - anything which provides human contact with safe boundaries and clear expectations.  Like a hermit crab, I can emerge for meetings, then withdraw into my fabulously decorated, safe shell of solitude.  If I had a theme song, it would probably be  "I Am a Rock" (Paul Simon, 1965).

Or "Numero 2" (Noel Paul Stookey, 1978):
"Daddy's gonna grin till his lip wear thin
It's the only thing he can swing this year"

"Momma make a good song writer out of me
It's the only way I can talk to her"

- except that I'm a poet rather than a songwriter, and my momma has no interest in poetry.    Yet, like the young Paul Stookey, I too wanted to be heard, and my mother's love of reading inspired me to try my hand at writing.

Thus my struggle with, "Family comes first."  I enjoy formal ministry and casual friendships, but to love is to risk everything.  To put my husband's needs above my own and above the needs of friends and acquaintances - yeah, that's scriptural, but if you're married to a vampire who doesn't have the self-control to stop taking, how can you feed his need and still survive?  And how do you meet your own needs within the relationship?

On the other hand, my DH is also a courteous, intelligent, interesting person who is as worthy of love as any human being on earth.  He needs acceptance, respect, friendship, and connection as much or more than I do.  Why shouldn't he be able to count on me for encouragement, love and emotional support?

In one of my early poems, I had a line about "two hearts beating together, not beating each other."  We both want the former; too often, in our mutual woundedness, we end up with the latter.

Yet if I practiced, "Family comes first" and made room for him in my heart and my inner life, wouldn't we be both be happier?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Progress Report: Days 6 & 7 of Lent - God Acts (and Speaks Again)

Day 6:  God Acts

"No kidding, God was there!"  Over the weekend, as I ranted about my life, one of the topics that came up was the former horse corral.  We had about five years' worth of cut, split and stacked wood under the oaks there. During the Monument Fire, all of that firewood burned, killing the oak trees and leaving a charred, ugly mess.

I wanted to expand my compost bins there, but didn't want to build nice bins that would later be crushed by falling trees blown down by wind or cut down with a chain saw.  Big obstacle:  hubby can no longer use the chain saw and I am not skilled or strong enough to tackle that job myself.  How, I asked my husband, could we possibly cut and haul off all that wood so that I could finish my compost project?

The next day, my father-in-law phoned.  He had a new chain saw and needed firewood.  Could he please come and cut some from our land?

Heck, yeah!  God IS with us, and He LISTENS!

Day 7:  God Speaks Again

My current spiritual discipline from The Spiritual Formation Workbook is to read "a book on the spiritual life that interests you" (Smith and Graybeal 35).  I try to spend 15 minutes after I study the Word and pray, practicing Lectio Divina - which is basically to read, reflect, respond (by praying to God about what you've just read), and rest (in God's presence, listening for what He has to say or simply enjoying Him).  You could practice Lectio Divina with almost any text, from the newspaper to scripture, from history to a poem by Robert Frost.

This morning, I opened Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, and began reading at this passage:

The insight of one fourth-century monk, Evagrius, that in the desert, most of one's troubles come from distracting "thoughts of one's former life" that don't allow us to live in the present, reflects what I regard as the basic principle of desert survival:  not only to know where you are but to learn to love what you find there" (Kathleen Norris 23).

Whoa!  That's been my problem during this season of Lent: distracting thoughts of my former life!  Or, rather, distracting thoughts about what I had hoped my life would become.

In many ways, my life is like the Coronado National Forest which surrounds me:  scrub oak ravaged by fire; dark, skeletal remains of century-old trees looming bleakly above dead annual grasses; and, in the midst of this barren landscape, occasional live trees and shrubby, optimistic young trees springing up from the roots.  I can look at what might have been - the dead trees - and mourn, or I can look at the new growth and hope.  It's my decision, really.

My task, like Kathleen Norris's, is "not only to know where [I am] but also to learn to love what [I] find there."

Before Enlightenment: chop wood, carry water, after Enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.
Zen Proverb

Sit, walk, or run, but don't wobble.
Zen Proverb

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Progress Report: Day 5 of Lent - God Speaks

In the SCA, after we go to an event, sometimes we get together and tell, "No s***, I was there!" stories.  Well, in the church, sometimes we get to tell, "No kidding, God was there!" stories.  (We don't say s*** in church; so we say, "No kidding!" instead.)

This is one of those "No kidding, God was there!" stories.

Yesterday (Saturday):  I posted my poor-poor-miserable-me entry about how I've been sitting on the couch and crying, fighting with my husband, and generally wasting my life on computer games.  When I went to review my Bible memory verses, I found myself looking at Matt. 7:7,8:

Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

I was all like, "Yeah, right, God.  I'll believe that when I see it."

Saturday evening, people responded to my sad blog entry with love and kindness.  I cried some more, but happier tears this time.

Saturday night:  I couldn't sleep.  I was awake at one and four and probably in between as well.

Today (Sunday):  I sleep through two alarms going off and the dog trying to dig his way into the bed.  I sleep so late that, by the time I struggle out of bed and drink some coffee,  I have only 15 minutes to dress and get out the door.  Somehow, we arrive at church only a few minutes late. This is a miracle in and of itself.

We walk in after the service starts, and there's this guest preacher from Tucson named Brian.  He begins by saying, "I know you're in the middle of a sermon series on Acts, but I really wanted to tell my life story.  So I phoned Pastor Jesse and he said, 'Sure, if it's that important, preach on whatever you want.'"

At this point, I stop playing with my iPhone and start actually listening because I KNOW that if God got me out of bed, got me off the couch, brought a guest speaker from Tucson, and interrupted a sermon series, He has something important to say.  Here's what it was:

When Pastor Brian was a teenager, he had an encounter with God where he felt God telling him, "You are Mine forever and You will serve Me."  At the time, Brian was a gifted baseball player with college scholarships waiting for him, so he had no plans to enter the ministry - until a freak motorcycle accident sent a clutch handle through his leg and ended his dream of a career as a professional athlete.

In the hospital, as Brian waited for his parents, God showed him Prov. 3:5,6:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.

Brian said that the message from God was, "Trust Me, lean on Me."

As he continued his story, incident after incident proved to Brian that, no matter what the circumstances in your life are, no matter how confusing things appear, you can trust God and lean on Him.  Whether it was becoming a youth pastor in New Mexico or moving back to Arizona so he could meet his future wife, over and over again, the message remained, "Trust Me, lean on Me."

As I reflected on Brian's story, I realized that, no matter what my life's hopes and dreams were, God can still take my life in unexpected directions, and it's okay.  Brian wanted to be an athlete, but when an injury ended that dream, his life didn't end.  God took him someplace else, and hey, it turned out to be a good place.  God can definitely do that for me, and for every one of us - if we're willing to trust Him and lean on Him.

During the service, someone (Brian?) said, "God said He will make your path straight.  Straight.  Not crooked, not falling into a ditch, not ending up in the bottom of a pit.  God said he will make your path straight."  Trust Me, lean on Me.

The other thing that God said to me during church was, "Don't treat your husband like he was dead.  He's not dead; he's broken.  Instead of grieving for what might have been, have compassion."  We cannot change the past, and because of my husband's severe chronic pain, we are definitely going to have trials in our future.

I'm not sure where we're going, but I know that it's going to be okay.

     *     *     *     *    *

Thank you all for listening, and being there for me :-)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Progress Report: Day 4 of Lent - Miserable Failure

Really, truly miserable.  Apparently, for me, computer games act as a kind of anodyne - a pain-relieving drug which enables me to ignore the failures of my career, my parenting, my life, and my marriage.

On Thursday, I went to the funeral of a former colleague, a warm, caring and wonderful man whose work as a coach and teacher had positively impacted many lives.  Listening to the accolades so deservingly accorded him, I had two awful realizations:  (1) my husband is also likely to die young, and I will be suddenly left alone in a house I can neither complete nor maintain; and (2) when I die, no one will give a rat's ass because I haven't done anything meaningful with my life and I'm rotten at friendship.  Just throw my ashes out with the garbage - that's about all my life is worth.

On Friday, I sat on the couch and cried for four hours before I attained enough emotional stability to go to the grocery store.  Then I came home and played games on my computer until midnight, because it hurt less than thinking and feeling.

When I haven't been crying on the couch for the last few days, I've been following my husband around the house, haranguing him mercilessly.  He is unfortunately both a basically nice, decent human being, and simultaneously a selfish monster - without meaning to be, of course - but the net effect of thirty-plus years of marriage is that I have immolated my own desires, ambitions, and needs on the altar of his happy assumption that if he's happy, everyone's happy, and that if he says he's sorry or he forgot, it's okay.  Apparently, reparation or changed behavior are not required; all we need is my ever-lovin' forgiveness so he can continue on his way.

To be fair, I must say that, on one level his failures aren't exactly his fault.  As a sort-of-like-autistic, depressed man with chronic pain issues, he functions about as best he can in relationships.  Empathy, planning, foreseeing negative consequences, and remembering simple things aren't natural, easy or obvious to him.  Nevertheless, he is a taker, and I'm a giver with a martyr complex (like my mom), so we dance this addictive, destructive dance together, as we have done for thirty years.  It tears me apart yet I cannot break free.

When I'm upset, I sit down at the computer and find some game which requires a combination of strategy or problem-solving, and accurate, real-time responses.  It doesn't matter to me whether I'm killing zombies, swallowing smaller fish, or destroying asteroids  To be successful in the game, I have to focus completely on the game, and set all emotion aside.  Computer games are a form of mindless meditaton which enable me to survive without looking too closely at the uncomfortable issues in my real life.

Unfortunately, playing games for several hours a day in an effort to remain happy and calm doesn't exactly help me achieve my life goals or maintain relationships.  So I thought that giving up games for Lent would be a positive thing:  I'd have time to do all the other stuff, and I could become a more spiritual person.  Sounds like a win-win, doesn't it?

Instead, it was liking pulling the Band-Aid off my "ow-ie," and discovering I have gangrene.  I am consumed with rage over the daughter I didn't have, the horse I didn't get, the writing career I sacrificed, the art that didn't happen, the teaching job that my husband sabotaged - in short, a lifetime of regrets, not least of which is finding out that I really don't like my husband or myself right now.

As to what happens next, we'll see.  Just having articulated this clearly feels right, and good.  Like opening a window in a room that's been closed and dark for years and years.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Progress Report: Day 1 of Lent - Waking Up?

A few thoughts about Lent and asceticism, from Kathleen Norris (Dakota:  A Spiritual Geography.  New York:  Houghton Mifflin, 1993.  Page 23):

Asceticism "is a way of surrendering to reduced circumstances in a manner that enhances the whole person.  It is a radical way of knowing exactly who, what, and where you are, in defiance of those powerful forces in society - alcohol, drugs, television, shopping malls, motels - that aim to make us forget."

It is the function of poetry to remind us of exactly who, what, and where we are; and literary discipline is often related to spiritual disciplines.  I have not written seriously in some years because I do not want to be reminded of who, what, and where I am; I have not wished to look too closely at my life. Genre fiction and games have been a welcome hole in the sand where I could bury head and heart.

One day without games or supernatural thrillers, and already, I feel that I am waking up.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Preparing for Lent

Okay, so I'm a Protestant, and I still abstain from something every year for Lent.  Some years, it's a food, like chocolate, or maybe alcohol, or caffeinated beverages.  One year, I tried to refrain from "talking trash" about anybody for 40 days.  That was a tough year!  We say negative things about people all the time, and never even notice.

This year, after prayer and reflection, I'm giving up 2 V's:  vampires (i.e., supernatural thrillers and romances with any bloodsucking fiends, shapeshifters, or fey) and video games (well, actually, computer games).  It will be an interesting Lent.

Why practice this weird annual ritual of random asceticism? 

Gontran de Poncins, a "restless French aristocrat," left the comforts of civilzation and lived among Canada's Eskimos during the 1930s.  As he reflected upon what he had given up, he discovered that less is truly more.  Listen to how wonderfully he explains this:

God knows we were poor enough.  Our poverty was total.  We possessed nothing:  not even the snow was our own.  As a bird carries off a twig with which to make its nest, then leaves that borrowed twig once the season has passed, so we cut and trimmed our borrowed  snow and left it to return to the common lot, passed it on as the Eskimos bequeath from generation to generation the stone traps in which they catch their river fish.  But there was a cheer and a contentment in our existence which I continue to muse upon and cannot altogether explain to myself.  Was it because infinite poverty lent infinite price to the least object?  There was more to it than this.  I had lost all I owned, but had found great riches.  Like a religious, I possessed the veritable treasures, those which could not be taken from me.  I had lost the world, but I had found myself, had exchanged the glitter for the gold.  Within me had lain potentialities for moral serenity, and I had not known it.  Storm and danger had been my salvation, and without them my spirit should have dropped heedlessly off to sleep in my flesh.  There on that Arctic tundra I had reconstructed myself from within.  Up through the lined and frozen layers of skin on my face, my true visage had begin to emerge, the visage that God had meant all men to show to one another; and that visage all the blizzards, all the adversity in the world could not decompose (Gontran De Poncins with Lewis Galantière.  Kabloona.  Chicago, IL:  Time-Life, 1941, 1965, pp. 319-320).

When we deliberately give up that which distracts us, we find moral serenity and our truest selves.  I don't know why we cannot be content when we have too much, but fasting somehow breaks that endless cycle of want and need, of "Mine!" and "Why aren't You listening to me?"

Friday, January 25, 2013

Poem: Trapped Inside

I first wrote this in 1986, when I was taking watercolor classes from Dale Boatman, and was terribly frustrated by the tedium of painting from someone else's photographs.  Just because Mr. Boatman was fascinated by yuccas and palo verdes in bloom didn't mean that I wanted to paint desert landscapes.

Nevertheless, I learned a great deal from that wonderful man about the persnickety medium of watercolor, composition, choosing an effective but limited palette, mixing paint, choosing and using brushes - and in the process, I learned about living, too.

Everyone should meet a happy artist.  It's liberating and refreshing to discover that one need not suffer for one's art, that a creative life can be a joyful one.

This early poem is an attempt to express some of I learned from Dale Boatman.


We paint from photographs
one stroke at a time,
forget to look
at trees.  Our vision
leaves us blind.

We mute the color
of the eye, beguile
fools with guileless lies,
re-making everything
in our own image.

Let's be honest here.
That which is, IS.
Nothing else is clear.

Still, we chip
at marble till we see
the head we believe
to be
trapped inside.

©2013 Tina Quinn Durham.  All rights reserved.

To learn more about Dale Boatman and his work, click here.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Creativity: No such thing as a failure or a false step!

In every discipline, when you attempt something new, you will experience failure along the way.  Success is the result of multiple, persistent attempts.

In science, for instance, Thomas Edison tested thousands of materials, searching for something which would form a lasting filament in an incandescent light bulb.  Vertex Pharmaceuticals "tested over 600,000 chemicals in cells with the defective protein that causes cystic fibrosis" (Drug Fulfills Promise Of Research Into Cystic Fibrosis Gene, NPR, Jan. 2013).

The creative process also requires experimentation, determination, and perhaps even a sense of play.

When I created my second feather metamorphosis, I saved some of my failures along with my steps toward success, and I included those failures in my Feather Vision 2 video.  I'm sure there were dozens more that were so awful they didn't get saved, but were necessary steps along the way.

 from "Crossroads" by Wendy Waldman, as recorded by Don McLean

You know I've heard about people like me,
But I never made the connection.
They walk one road to set them free
And find they've gone the wrong direction.

But there's no need for turning back
'Cause all roads lead to where I stand.
And I believe I'll walk them all
No matter what I may have planned. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Transforming Ordinary Reality Using A Scanner & Photoshop

That's what creativity is all about, right?  Seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary, believing that we have something to say or make or do, and then having the courage to do it?

My "Feather Vision" video shows how I went from feather to abstract art using Photoshop 7.0 and various filters.  It's part of a series of digital abstracts I titled "Metamorphoses."

It's probably a good thing I didn't come across a dead cockroach during this time, or I might up ended up with something positively Kafka-esque!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Creativity: How can we access an extraordinary reality?

Reinhold Marxhauser talked about the need to make all things new:

Nothing I have done has been done in the past.  I am doing my part to upgrade or get rid of old symbols.*

Marxhauser also talks about how Jesus "gave meaning to simple, everyday things and related them to His Kingdom" (ibid).  On some level, all of this keeps coming back to attention and awareness.  Being there in the moment.

If I went through each day of my life with my eyes open, believing that "nothing I have done has been done in the past," and were fully aware, what would my perceptions be?  How would my daily work be transformed?  And how would that awareness translate into art, and poetry?

Or would I simply be, for the moment, fully aware and alive?

Ordinary feather
Ordinary feather transformed

Every poet knows, however, what every good theologian affirms, namely that grace is everywhere and that nothing which exists is superficial. Ordinary reality is an oxymoron.

Padovano, Anthony T.   "Rain and Grace."  Accessed 14 January 2013.

*Marxhausen, Reinhold.  The Door. Mar/Apr 93, #128.  "Interview with Reinhold Marxhausen, the Stardust Man,"  page 13.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Creativity: Art and religion make us whole

To piggy-back on yesterday's post, art (poetry, music, drama, etc.) does more than remind us that we have a soul; creative endeavor is restorative, both for artist and audience.  Because we are created in the image of a creative God, we are meant to create; and when we cease to make art or music or beauty in its myriad forms, in some sense, we die.

I want to carry life, not death, within me.

Artist Reinhold Marxhausen pretty much said it all in a 1993 interview:

Art and religion have much to offer mankind and are partners in "whole making."  Before print, books, film and media came into being, illuminated manuscripts, stained glass, sculpture, vaulted ceilings, majestic music, mosaics, and paintings stimulated the senses to feelings of awe and wonder.  The art forms elevated the spirits and the feelings of worshipping mankind way beyond the power of the abstract words.  We have lost the ability to symbolize, and what I am trying to do is make new symbols.  My things have new meaning.  Nothing I have done has been done in the past.  I am doing my part to upgrade or get rid of old symbols.
Jesus did the same thing, really.  In a sense, Jesus was an artist who used parables, stories, and metaphors to explain the Kingdom of God to the disciples.  He gave meaning to simple, everyday things and related them to His Kingdom.  His stories were understandable, and the Kingdom became available to everyone on earth.  That's why Christianity is so unbelievable at times - it is so simple and accessible.  Jesus talked about farmers, flowers, birds, seeds, rich people, beggars, vineyards, soil ... and the people understood.

Marxhausen, Reinhold.  The Door. Mar/Apr 93, #128.  "Interview with Reinhold Marxhausen, the Stardust Man,"  page 13.

Links To and About Reinhold Marxhausen's Work 

(and more - there's always more LOL)

What a delightful man!

Link to the [Wittenberg] Door magazine interviews, which are always fascinating.  Even if they haven't published since 2008, the Door interviews are still a great read.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Healing Power of Creativity

Art reminds us that we have a soul

When I lived in the Phoenix metro area, I discovered that the Phoenix Art Museum was a great place to hang out.  And not just because it was free on Wednesdays, and not just because one summer, the air conditioner wasn't working (that was the year the kids took art classes, joined a bowling league, participated in the library's summer reading program - anything that got us out of the house and into an air-conditioned space.  But I digress.)  I loved the spaces of the museum, the quiet, the works of art that I got to know as if they were good friends.

And I picked up a brochure that had this wonderful quote from Stella Adler:

Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.

Creative work can be the "green pasture" that our soul lies down in, whether it's our own creative work or the opportunity to enjoy the work of others.

Stella Adler, acclaimed actress and acting teacher

"The Southland of the Heart", Bruce Cockburn

Friday, January 11, 2013

Creativity: Recognizing where you are as sacred space

Set aside time to become engaged

I've been thinking about a writer's sense of place - an awareness that where we are is important.  I tend to believe that wherever I am, it's boring and insignificant, and if I could just get somewhere else, I could write.

Ken Lamberton wrote an amazing book about being a naturalist while in prison.  He was a teacher who fell in love with a student, and - well, you can guess what happened next.  It's a heart-breaking story, and you can find out more about it here:

 Okay, so what's the point?  How does a convicted child molester relate to sacred space?

No matter how screwed up your life is, no matter how limited your options are, you can still observe, create, redeem and restore.  Corrie Ten Boom was in a Nazi concentration camp; Ken Lamberton was in a state prison.  Creativity and sacred space depends, in part, on you - the meal becomes a feast because of what you bring to the table.

Ken Lamberton included a wonderful quote from Richard Nelson in his book, Wilderness and Razorwire, and I wanted to share it with you:

"I wonder," Richard Nelson writes, "what it would mean if each person, at some point in his life, set aside some time to become thoroughly engaged with a part of the home community: a backyard, a woodlot, a pond, a stretch of river, a hillside, a farm, a park, a creek, a county, a butte, a marsh, a length of seacoast, a ridge, an estuary, a cactus forest, an island.  How would it affect the way each person views herself or himself in relationship to the natural surroundings, or to the earth as a whole?"

Nelson, Richard.  Quoted by Ken Lamberton,  Wilderness and Razorwire:  A Naturalist's Observations from Prison, pp. 144-145.  San Francisco:  Mercury House, 2000.

Become alive, become aware, become engaged 

with the place you live.  It won't just affect how you view yourself.  It will change how you see everything - including your writing.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fiction Writers: How do you begin a sequel?

You could, of course, start with lots of explanation, but that's a rather tedious way to open a novel.  I like how James A. Hetley did it in the first paragraphs of The Winter Oak (New York:  Ace Books, 2004).

Read through this passage a couple of times, and notice what Hetley does:

David gritted his teeth and followed Jo's hand through the darkness.  He assumed the rest of her was still attached.  Dark, clammy nothings brushed past his face and hissed in his ears.  Phantoms teased the corners of his eyes, shapes black against black, yellow against yellow, flowing through the ghost images his brain played to give substance to emptiness.

The touches, sounds, and shapes plucked at his fear like virtuosi on overtaut harp strings.  The air smelled of sodden graveyards, thick and rank in his nose and against his skin as if he had to swim through it.

Under the Sidhe hill, he thought.  Three steps between magic and reality.  Magic with teeth and claws as long as his forearm, magic that Jo carried in her genes.

He felt cold sweat between his shoulder blades and trickling down his sides under his arms.  This was taking far too long.

Let's take a writerly look at what Hetley's done.

  • DON'T BEGIN AT THE BEGINNING.  Hetley starts in media res - in the middle of the action.  We 're off and running from the first sentence.  Or, in this case, immediately slogging through a terrifying world which shouldn't exist.
  • INCLUDE A QUICK INTRODUCTION TO THE SETTING.  With just a few sentences, Hetley sketches a horrific world of darkness, vile smells, and dangerous magic.  By the third short paragraph, we already know that we are somewhere between our world and the realm of Celtic magic, and we also know that the fae in this world are not going to be nice.  
  • INTRODUCE THE READER TO THE CHARACTER(S).  I love the sentence, "He assumed the rest of her was still attached" [i.e., Jo's body is still attached to her hand].  This tells us something about David's character, that he has a sense of humor and is a bit of a "smart ass."  I like him already, and want to find out more about him and this crazy situation.
  • USE HUMOR AND SURPRISE TO KEEP THE READER AWAKE.  "He assumed the rest of her was still attached" is both funny and unexpected.  But it's like seasoning in a good tortilla soup - just enough to spice things up, but not too much.
  • USE POETIC TECHNIQUES LIKE SIMILE AND METAPHOR.  The second paragraph is a bit overwritten, but it turns out to be appropriate because David is a musician in a Celtic band, and a poet.  Of course he thinks in similes.  And the use of smell - the sense which evokes the most emotion - is a nice touch.  We associate putrefaction, and graveyards, with scary bad stuff.  I'm feelin' it.
  • EMPLOY PHYSICAL CLUES TO REVEAL EMOTIONAL STATES.  We know that David's stressed, because he's gritting his teeth - a nice variation of the old "show, don't tell" rule to let us know what a character's feeling without saying, "He was so scared!"  Paragraph three:  Hetley does it again:  "He felt cold sweat between his shoulder blades and trickling down his sides under his arms."  Yep, that's definitely pretty scared.
  • GROUND THE READER IN BOTH PLACE AND TIME.  Hetley uses a single phrase "under the Sidhe hill" to ground us in a particular reality.  If you know Celtic myth, you know at least half of where we are and what we're dealing with.   We'll find out about the "reality" part later.  The time is some variation of now, our contemporary world, because the narrator says, "magic Jo carried in her genes," and we know that nobody talked about genes before the discovery of DNA.  In the past, when people talked about genetics, they'd say "blood" instead of "genes."  
  • USE SPECIFIC LANGUAGE AND THE MOST EFFECTIVE WORDS to introduce us to the characters.  The use of "Jo" instead of a full name like "Josephine" or a more feminine nickname like "Josie" tells us something about Jo, too:  she's a no-nonsense, tough, modern girl.  The fact that David knows what's in her genes means they've been together for a while, and since they're holding hands, you might guess (correctly) that they are lovers.
  • GIVE YOUR READER CLUES ABOUT THE CHARACTERS' RELATIONSHIPS.  Yet another application of "Show, don't tell."  We've actually already learned a lot about Jo and David:  she's got fairy blood; he (we can infer) does not.  She's the leader; this is natural to her and alien to David.  He's been through this before, and he didn't like the experience then. 
  • USE FORESHADOWING.  Phantoms, graveyard, the Sidhe, "magic with teeth and claws as long as his forearm" - as a reader, I'm guessing that David's in for a wild ride, and I am eager to travel with him.
Am I reading too much into this?  Nope.  It's all there in the text, for any alert reader to discover; and with a writer of Hetley's caliber, it's not there by accident.  This is a carefully crafted introduction to the story, beautifully done, with everything you need to get you hooked and reading.

When I say carefully crafted, I mean it - this is the kind of writing that emerges through multiple revisions.  Most likely, there will just be hints of it in the first draft, phrases and ideas the writer can build on, and lots of flotsam and jetsam to edit out.

If I were to write a sequel to something, Hetley's opening is how I'd want to my novel to begin.  In media res, with a clear setting in time and place, and enough of an introduction to the characters to make me want to read on and get to know them better.  But nothing heavy-handed, nothing clunky or out of place.  He makes it all sound natural and easy.

Nice work, Mr. Hetley!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Creativity: Work space is sacred space

Sacred space is not just a garden or a place we come to pray.  For the creative person, our work space may be the most sacred location in our lives.

     "Sacred space is a space that is transparent to transcendence, and everything within such a space furnishes a base for meditation....  When you enter through the door, everything within that space is symbolic, the whole world is mythologized.
     "To live in a sacred space is to live in a symbolic environment where spiritual life is possible, where everything around you speaks of the exaltation of the spirit.
     "This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be.  This is the place of creative incubation.  At first you might find that nothing happens there.  But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.
     "Your sacred place is where you find yourself again and again" (145).

Campbell, Joseph.  Quoted by Lawlor, Anthony, AIA.  The Temple in the House:  Finding the Sacred in Everyday Architecture.  New York: Putnam, 1994.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Poem: The Accident of Sacred Space

I wrote this poem in 1996 while landscaping the front yard of my unremarkable suburban home. I suppose that the title of this poem is ironic, because all who seek transcendent spiritual experiences know that, in modern life, sacred space is rare.  It must be deliberately sought, or carefully created and maintained.

The Buddhist meditation garden evolved as a way for people living on a very crowded island to experience serenity and nature, no matter who or what was next door.

In the aesthetics of a meditation garden, I found a way to survive as a poet in conservative Mesa, Arizona.

The Accident of Sacred Space

The square rocks are Buddhas
which cannot be moved.

Water, which purifies, runs
east to west through the garden, 
trailing the river of the sun.

If there is no water, use small rocks.
They crunch underfoot.
The sound is like water.

Or place a bowl by the door.
Chip the edge of the bowl.
Wash your hands in it.

Permit surprises. 
Bring the mountains into the city. 
Listen to the stones.

Reuse what you can.
Make your own mountains.
Make your heart a square stone

beside water.

©2013 Tina Quinn Durham.  All rights reserved.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Creativity and Prayer: You must create a space for both

I first encountered Robert Benson's amazing book, Living Prayer, on a public library shelf at a particularly dark time in my life - it was undoubtedly a divine appointment rather than mere chance or coincidence.

What Robert Benson said about workspace, prayer and writing rings as true for me today as it did then.  I hope it will encourage you to create a space in your home and in your heart for creative endeavor and for time with God.  It need not be a large space, or a magnificent one, but if you are to live creatively, you need a place and a time set aside for spiritual renewal.

Remember that Jacob encountered God only AFTER he sent sent his wives, children and all his men on ahead, and spent the night alone in the desert.  To receive a blessing, he had to step away from the people he loved, and be willing to risk his life in a dark and lonely place.

Maybe that's why, sometimes, we're so reluctant to work, to pray, or to make room for the transcendent Other in our lives.

from Living Prayer by Robert Benson:

     Every writer I know writes in a different place and in a different way from every other writer I know.  But they all have a place to write.  A place that has been set apart for it.  They do it because they know that to live the life of an artist, you must produce art.  Otherwise, you are just cleverly avoiding the curse of the dreaded day job and maintaining an excuse to be shy and wear funny clothes.  Having a place helps produce art, if for no other reason than that you at least have a place to go and hope such a mysterious thing will take place.  To live a life of prayer, one must produce prayer.  Which is harder to do if you have no place in which to do so.  "We can talk to God anywhere," we say, and it is true.  But more often than not, because we do not have a somewhere to talk to God, we talk to God nowhere.  One can build an altar in one's heart, of course, but it can take some time, according to the saints.  Most of us could use the reminder that might come to us if we would put an altar in our house while we pray for the day in which we ourselves become the living sacrifice such an altar deserves.
     Any place can be more or less sacred, depending on what we ourselves bring to it.  Our own attitudes and expectations and actions can contribute or not to the sacredness of the place.  A temple can become a den of thieves, or so I have heard.  A picnic rug can become a sanctuary, or so I have found.

Robert Benson. Living Prayer, pp. 158-159.  New York: Putnam, 1998.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Creativity, Attention and Focus: YOU make something interesting

Living the ADHD life is a bit like being jerked around on a rollercoaster:  I'm always in motion, it's always exciting, and the view is always changing.  Hold on tight!

My personal attention span has a limit of about 11 minutes.  If I've set a timer, I can probably stay with a task for 15 minutes, but the last four minutes is really, really hard.

I got through college and graduate school literally 15 minutes at a time.  My writing and creative processes are punctuated by periods of intense physical activity - the need to calm myself, to burn off the energy stored up while sitting still.  Housework and tedious tasks are often accomplished in spurts, between writing or drawing (if I can stay away from video games).

Thus I am fascinated by Annie Dillard's insights about artistic endeavor and creativity.  I like this quote, because it reminds me that no object or task is inherently interesting - it's really what we bring to the table that makes the experience worthwhile.

At the beginning of the year, this is a great thing to remember!

When Annie Dillard was a child, she discovered The Natural Way to Draw by Kimon Nicolaides, and began to sketch her baseball glove every day.  Looking back from an adult perspective, she wrote:

   One thing struck me as odd and interesting.  A gesture drawing took forty-five seconds; a Sustained Study took all morning.  From any still-life arrangement or model's pose, the artist could produce either a short study or a long one.  Evidently, a given object took no particular amount of time to draw; instead the artist took the time, or didn't take it, at pleasure.  And, similarly, things themselves possessed no fixed and intrinsic amount of interest; instead things were interesting as long as you had attention to give them.  How long does it take to draw a baseball mitt?  As much time as you care to give it.  Not an infinite amount of time, but more time than you first imagined.  For many days, so long as you want to keep drawing that mitt, and studying that mitt, there will always be a new and finer layer of distinctions to draw out and lay in.  Your attention discovers— seems thereby to produce—an array of interesting features in any object, like a lamp.

Dillard, Annie.  AN AMERICAN CHILDHOOD.  PILGRIM AT TINKER CREEK/AN AMERICAN CHILDHOOD/THE WRITING LIFE.  Camp Hills, PA:  Harper and Row, 1990.  Book of the Month Club edition.  Originally published 1987.  p. 79.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Creativity: "Ex Nihilo" by Tina Quinn Durham

I wrote this prose poem in 1991, when my family was flying into Washington, D.C. at night to visit my sister.  If you're familiar with the city, you know that Pierre Charles L'Enfant modeled it after European cities "avenues radiating out from rectangles" ("Washington, D.C." - Wikipedia).  The original plan for the city looked like this:

Imagine this a few hundred years later - radiating avenues pulsating with electric lights like a constellation of earth-bound stars - and you'll get the central image of this poem.


They want me to write poems where everything flows together until love and lemonade are a single, contradictory celebration stinging my tongue - but it’s not like that.  Everything fits together and you can see it the way you see roads coming together into the airport.

It’s all one star raying out into a night that dances with small clouds, and one day we won’t wonder why parts of the expansion pulse bright then dim, because then it will be all light, illumination forever, not surge and brown-out but light pure and simple.

It’s more than positive paranoia, it’s a rush of everything caught in the strobe of truth - we hang poised for a moment before plunging back into the dance - we're going to dance it forever until we come to the place where forever begins.

©2013 Tina Quinn Durham.  All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Creativity Builds Community

I found this quote and wanted to share it with you, because it reminds us that, as writers and artists, we participate in a larger conversation and a community of the heart.  Happy New Year!

"The most wonderful thing children discover is that something is interesting to somebody else.  They then appropriate this interest for their own.  Two people attentive to a detail of the world make a society, and the object they find significant has crossed over from meaninglessness to symbol.  Art is always the replacing of indifference by attention."

    --Guy Davenport, New York Times Book Review, 4/4/82