Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Are books superfluous?

I just started to read The Shallows (Carr, 2010) and the first question one comes across in the endflap "Is Google making us stupid?" I have been contemplating the issue of multitasking since I heard Carr on NPR a few days ago. Ironically I was in my studio trying to stay focused on carving plates so that I can have them ready for firing next week and I was having trouble with staying on task.

I have also been contemplating a conversation that Kenny and I had a few days ago about my adventurous lifestyle and how I should write a book. He thinks I write well, have tremendous wit about my stories, and that the craziness would sell more than every other joker out there hawking a memior. He even had a bunch of suggestions on what I should include and how to get it to a publisher that would read it (insert Uncle Paul who is currently at a giant house). In anycase I am not sure that would work, but the more I think about the idea, the more I cannot seem to escape the thrill of this challenge. It would be a grand adventure of the highest proportions,a Magnum Opus of sorts.

I have fantasized about what to write about and how to write about things. I think I would take it from the vantage point of a story-teller. I imagine this rather large animated woman standing in front of bonfire with a crowd, drawing them in with her crazy tales, so crazy that they are laughable. Are they real or elaborated on? It doesn't matter because they are magical and definitely metaphorical. They are perceptions personified. The stuff that most artists have a hard time turning off. Story telling to me has always been just thought of as another creative media. I am fascinated with story tellers, especially those who have perfected their art.

I am fascinated with other people's stories. Two of my favorite NPR shows are The Story and Fresh Air. The human condition and all its emotion is great stuff. I think of how many people are drawn to the story Van Gogh who is said to have cut off his ear in a fit of rage to avoid killing Gauguin. He had an illness, an addiction to absinthe, with all that the wormwood concoction has to offer. The craziness of the story, the anecdote, is what is remembered . Then there is the story that Terry Gross told a few weeks ago about the Philadelphia Police and the Pulitzer Prize newspaper article about their improprieties concerning the arrests of bodega owners. My students were glued to the interview as we listened to Fresh Air during studio time (I encourage you to listen to it too).

I found myself writing down ideas for my own stories. My students tell me that I definitely have staying power in that department, so does my family for that matter. As I continue to dream about the possibility of writing a book, and as I read Carr's book I wonder, are books really superfluous? According to him, if you have read more than four of the paragraphs I have written without squirming to check your e-mail, getting frustrated with the length, and without wondering mentally, then you are in the minority. So I ask if I write, will you read?

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