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Posted by Maria Popova

“There are some people downstairs who drive everywhere and admire nothing.”


Attentiveness as the Pulse-Beat of Art: Alice James on Living with Wide-Open Consciousness

To be an artist, in the most expansive sense, is to live with uncommon wakefulness to the world, both interior and exterior, unafraid to be moved by a universe observed with benevolent and unrelenting curiosity, then to give shape to those observations in a way that helps other people live. “Go into yourself,” Rilke counseled in his advice on being an artist, “and test the deeps in which your life takes rise; at its source you will find the answer to the question whether you must create.”

One of the simplest, most profound meditations on awareness as the pulse-beat of art comes from a person who lived generation before Rilke and was not exactly an artist of tangibles but was very much an artist of life: Alice James (August 7, 1848–March 6, 1892) — the brilliant bed-bound sister of psychologist William James and novelist Henry James, a woman who considered herself “simply born a few years too soon” and who spent her life as an astute observer of the human experience, with its full spectrum of tragedy and triumphant joy, from the confines of her infelicitous vantage point as a lifelong invalid bedeviled by a mysterious and debilitating illness.

Alice James in 1891 (Harvard Houghton Library)

James recorded what she observed in The Diary of Alice James (public library), in which she wrote with uncommon elegance of insight and splendor of sentiment about life, art, and the art of living fully while dying. A hundred years before Annie Dillard contemplated the two ways of looking and the secret to truly seeing, James writes in a journal entry from mid-June of 1889:

I went out today, and behaved like a lunatic, “sobbed” … over a farmhouse, a meadow, some trees and cawing rooks. Nurse says that there are some people downstairs who drive everywhere and admire nothing. How grateful I am that I actually do see, to my own consciousness, the quarter of an inch that my eyes fall upon; truly, the subject is all that counts!

Sketch of Alice James by Henry James, 1872

More than a century before Jeanette Winterson wrote of art as a function of “active surrender,” James adds:

Nurse asked me whether I should like to be an artist — imagine the joy and despair of it! the joy of seeing with the trained eye and the despair of doing it. Among the beings who are made up of chords which vibrate at every zephyr, of the two orders, which know the least misery, those who are always dumb and never loose the stifled sense, or the others who ever find expression impotent to express!

Complement this particular fragment of the altogether magnificent Diary of Alice James with E.E. Cummings on what it really means to be an artist, Pablo Neruda on why we make art, and James Baldwin on the artist’s task.


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Holly had a bit of a shock...

Sep. 22nd, 2017 06:31 am
seawasp: (Default)
[personal profile] seawasp
... and she has to tell Trayne about it in Chapter 15 of Princess Holy Aura

"Home away from home"

Sep. 22nd, 2017 03:07 am
rosefox: A bearded man in a yarmulke shouting L'CHAIM! (Judaism)
[personal profile] rosefox
Selichot )

Rosh Hashanah )

It's genuinely disorienting to encounter all these spaces where I don't have to educate anyone or fight to be seen for who I am. Other people have already done that work, and leaders have clearly been receptive to it. (Rabbi Lippman is queer, but I don't assume that cis queer people will be welcoming to or understanding of trans people, especially nonbinary trans people.) I get to just show up and be a human being in human community. What an immense privilege. What a gift. Honestly, that might be the thing that gets me to stick with this—just the pure pleasure of being in a place where I didn't personally have to claw out a space for myself.

Josh met me and Kit in the park and we walked for a while (GMaps Pedometer says I walked 3.2 miles today, most of it pushing a heavy stroller with a heavy toddler; my feet and arms are very tired). I teased him that he should be glad I didn't make him meet the rabbi. But this is my thing, really. Maybe it's my latest three-month hobby. Maybe it'll be more than that. We'll see.

New Moon Reading and Happy Equinox!

Sep. 22nd, 2017 01:32 am
wyld_dandelyon: (Default)
[personal profile] wyld_dandelyon
Life keeps being, well, life. I sure don't feel balanced, either in world news (so many hurricanes and earthquakes!) or politics (I can't believe the GOP is still trying to take away my health care) or personal life (renewing my license plate is expensive enough without having the engine light on my car start to glow to assure me I'd fail the emissions test without repairs). Life feels so very uncertain, for me and for so many, many other people right now. It would be too easy to get lost in worrying, but that isn't a good life, and wouldn't help me or anyone else.

Last weekend, we went to a Pagan Pride gathering and got to listen to one of my favorite musical groups. While I was there, I let myself be talked into getting a reading by a lady who used three different animal-based decks. I had too many possible questions in mind, so I stuck with the simple question, "what do I most need to know?". She drew me Armadillo, which she said was all about setting boundaries appropriately, but also a warning to face my troubles and not try to hide in my shell. Armadillo was flanked by lizard, for dreams, and snake, for rebirth. My spirit Guide was drawn from another deck, and was Panda, who advised me to create a sacred space in my home and place of work. Finally, from a deck that's all wolves, I received the advice that I'm at a crossroads. The more I think about boundaries and sacred space, the more different ways I see that this reading applies in my life. So I've been working to get my spaces in better shape for the work I need to do and the life I want to live. Maybe I'll write more about that in a separate post.

But it's Equinox (or about to be), and the New Moon (or was, just a bit ago), so I'm reminded that one of the sacred things I chose to do for this year is to do regular readings. Maybe I can bring you some inspiration or some insight to help you find a new balance in your life.

So, on to the readings.

New friends and old are very welcome. I'd love to do a bunch of readings!

I am continuing to offer a five-card reading for $25, or if you want a larger reading we can discuss costs. As always, a signal boost will allow you to ask for a clarification card on some part of this reading, if you wish. Alternatively, you can ask for a Torn World reading and get an in-character reading in Affamarg or the Breidalam Mountains using that world's standard layout for the divination disks.

Or, of course, you can simply ask for a single card (with the usual clarifying card for people who tip). The guitar case below is my personal PayPal link, featuring my own artwork, which still inspires me even though it isn't Tarot-related. I'm still thinking about doing an appropriate self-portrait. Not today--but should it be realistic or abstract? Me as I am, or me as I might be portrayed in a deck? The idea is percolating, anyway. But back to readings!

You may ask about real life or a creative project, even a game. I can draw a card for you to meditate on, to represent the Guide you need right now, or to get you unstuck. I can draw a card for a character or can draw a card or cards for you to use as writing or art prompts, and I can modify a more-traditional five-card spread into a prompt for a story focusing on plot or characters or a little of both.

For free one card readings, you can pick from the Brian Froud's Faeries Oracle, the Daughters of the Moon Tarot (one of the round decks), or the Shapeshifter Tarot. You can ask a question, ask for a Guide or for inspiration, or you can just ask for a card. I don't need to know what your question is, but you are welcome to share it with me if you like.

The first card is free (though tips are always appreciated). Tips (including requests for longer readings) also let you ask me to use any of my other decks, including but not limited to my combined Susan Seddon Boulet Animal Spirits and Goddesses cards and my Fantasy Showcase Tarot deck where each card was done by a different science fiction/fantasy artist.

Tipping can also be used to request a private reading, or to draw a clarifying card if the initial card (or paid multi-card reading) leaves you with questions. If you want a longer reading, send a direct message so we can agree on the type of reading and rate.

Signal boosts are very much appreciated, and also earn you the right to ask for a clarifying card. (If you only signal boost, please do not ask for two cards to start with. A clarifying card, if the reading is unclear to you, is fine.)

I understand all too well that when people don't have cash or spoons that is generally when they most need inspiration! Don't be afraid to ask for a card if you can't tip.

If you tip, it's helpful to me for you to mention it here so I can connect your Paypal information with your request. Tips should be at least $1 (Paypal charges fees). If Paypal doesn't work for you, drop me a message and we'll work something out.

I've written before about why I do readings and some of the decks I use here, feel free to hop over and check me out. I'll wait.

I will reply to all requests. In the highly unlikely event that the number of requests nears my limits, I'll close this card draw by changing the status line below rather than risk leaving anyone without a response.

Thank you, and Blessed Be!

Status: Open to free readings through 9/24; open to tipped readings until this status message is changed.

As always, these readings are for entertainment and inspiration only. See my "Dandelyon's Readings" page if you have questions.

sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
[personal profile] sovay
Even if the rest of the film were forgettable, Howard Hawks' Red River (1948) would be worth it for the climactic fight scene where Montgomery Clift and John Wayne are tragically and brutally and patriarchally beating one another's brains out and just as the audience, consisting in this case of me and [personal profile] rushthatspeaks, decides it cannot take another second of this senseless macho bullshit, Joanne Dru can't either and not only says as much, she holds both combatants at gunpoint until they cut the machismo and admit they love one another. It was a thing of beauty. ("You'd better marry that girl, Matt.") Factor in the gun-comparing scene between Clift and John Ireland and other not infrequent moments of no heterosexual explanation and the whole thing was a nice break from today's otherwise relentless grind of work, even if we weren't totally sure at the outset. It is not easy to watch a movie in the company of an active and presently tired and cranky eleven-month-old, but we managed. In other news, Fox these days is freestanding, fast-moving, can hang upside down by the knees if an adult holds them, and appears to be taking against the entire concept of pants. They like honeycake, though.

Autolycus is being heartbreakingly plaintive right now. He has a vet appointment early in the morning and it requires fasting, which is an impossible concept to explain to a cat. I let him graze all day and gave him a proper dinner at the absolute last moment, but he is attempting to convince me that, actually, in point of fact, he starved since then. We should find him some kind of special treat after the appointment, for being so brave and honest. Last night he and his sister shared in the Rosh Hashanah chicken. All cats are lunisolar.

In honor of the High Holidays, here is a post on Jewish superheroes and here is a brilliant riposte to the rather short-sighted question "How can you be Black and Jewish?"

Back to the relentless grind. At least it is almost autumn.

iPods

Sep. 21st, 2017 10:53 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Haven't been around long enough for an adult to reference the technology as something around when they were kids. That's just crazy talk -- 16 years ago, you say?

Game Review: Overlord

Sep. 22nd, 2017 12:07 am
green_knight: (Skyrim)
[personal profile] green_knight
[expanded from the review I posted on Steam]

Review and Discussion )


Bonus review-let: Forced.

Forced, Gamification of Games, Player vs. Designer )

So, yeah. I am learning something about gaming, game design, or myself from every game I play, and I am glad I seem to have broken through the mountain of shame (OMG, so much stuff I've never played, best never look at them) and guilt (OMG, so much wasted money). I no longer feel compelled to 'give every game a fair chance' just because I once spent money on it. (Frequently, in bundle deals, I did not even set out to buy all of the games.)

Overall, I spend less than £5/month on games and, overall, I enjoy gaming. I'm not going to get the same amount of fun out of every game, but if I can average a couple of hours of fun for every £5 I pay, that's actually not bad value for money.
rolanni: (Default)
[personal profile] rolanni
If you have read Neogenesis and want to talk about it, this is the link to the spoiler discussion.
rolanni: (Default)
[personal profile] rolanni

For them what indulges, the eARC of Neogenesis, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller -- the 21st Liaden Universe®! -- is now available for download (and reading, natch).

Get yours here!

I will, in the fullness of time, set up a spoiler page at sharonleewriter.com

rj_anderson: (Doctor Who - Thing in Progress)
[personal profile] rj_anderson
[Crossposted from Facebook, feel free to ignore if you've already seen it there...]

Well into the second week of working on a new short story, and enjoying the writing process more than I have for a long time.

It's taken me eighteen months on sabbatical to get over the deeply ingrained habit of checking every few minutes to see how many words I've written, of feeling anxious that it's taking so long to get through a particular scene, of worrying that my time and effort has been wasted if I end up having to cut some or all of what I've written and start over the next day. Not to mention the voice of my Inner Editor nagging, "That scene is boring! That description is sappy! That conversation doesn't advance the plot! Nobody's going to like this. Give up and write something else."

It's not that I don't care anymore about making progress, or writing the best story I can. I'm just not measuring my work by the same rigid, merciless standards that used to suck away all the pleasure of writing for me. I don't have an outline for this story, just a vague notion of where I want it to end up and a few scattered ideas about how to get there -- and that's fine. I don't know who the audience for this story will be, or where I'm going to publish it once it's finished -- and that's fine, too. I'm writing it because I want to, not for the money or the market or the fear of losing my career if I don't. And that's the best feeling of all.

But it's taken me all this time to get there, because I drove myself so hard for so long, running on fear and guilt and sheer bloodyminded determination, that I couldn't remember how to write any other way.

Creative burnout is a real thing, ladies and gentlemen. Don't let it happen to you.

The Good Place: Season 2, Episode 1

Sep. 21st, 2017 12:32 pm
rachelmanija: (Default)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Absolutely fantastic. Do not click on cut unless you've already seen it. The whole series is streaming on nbc.com.

Read more... )
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
[personal profile] asakiyume
I'm doing a little bit of writing with some adult learners (there may be some high school students in this class as well)--just ten minutes or so. I don't have any pedagogical reason to believe this is beneficial, except for believing that when people have pleasant experiences doing something, then that thing becomes less daunting. In other words, maybe, if the students enjoy this time writing, they'll feel more able to tackle the sort of writing you need to do to clear the hurdles in front of them. But even if that's not the case, I think people deserve a chance and a place to try out writing, just for its own sake and their own sake. So.

My first prompt for them was this quote from Fred Rogers: "You can grow ideas in the garden of your mind," which I recalled from this autotuned song made from that and other remarks of his.

I showed them some gardens.

A garden in Holyoke, created by "self-proclaimed plant geeks":


(Source)

Randyland, the garden created by Randy Gilson, a waiter and son of a single mom, in Pittsburgh, PA:


(Source)

The magic gardens of Isaiah Zagar in Philadelphia:


(Source)

The blooming Cadillacs at the Cadillac ranch in Amarillo, Texas:


(Source is this Google image, whose original location is given as this video.)

The famous Zen garden at Ryōanji, in Kyoto, Japan:


(Source)

And I said, even when you think a place is barren, nothing growing, life pushes through, like in this parking lot in Boston:


(Source)

And then I asked them--what's growing in the garden of your mind? Several people wrote that they felt like the parking lot and talked about worries, but one wrote about a painting she's planning, and another compared his mind to a potato (and gave me a diagram to show it growing). It was wonderful.

What's growing in the garden of *your* mind, these days?

Sale: Mother of Souls ebook

Sep. 21st, 2017 05:21 pm
[syndicated profile] alpennia_feed

Posted by Heather Rose Jones

Thursday, September 21, 2017 - 10:21

Bella Books is holding one of its periodic surprise sales. This time the theme is relatively recent ebooks, so if you haven't gotten around to buying Mother of Souls yet (yes, I'm secretly tapping my foot impatiently) it's only $5.99 through this weekend. Plenty of other bargains as well!

Major category: 
Publications: 

All Sign-Ups (aka CSV?)

Sep. 21st, 2017 01:11 pm
pumpkinkingmod: (pic#8274963)
[personal profile] pumpkinkingmod posting in [community profile] trickortreatex
There is a problem with the CSV for Trick or Treat.  I can't download it.  For those who don't know, AO3 generates a spreadsheet with all the sign-ups that mods can access.  The people waiting to make spreadsheets of the AO3 sign-ups have been waiting for it.  I have been in contact with AO3 support but it sounds like this might not be fixable in time for this exchange.

To help out, and ensure that those that didn't post letters can be easily searched for as well, I made a google doc with all the sign-ups on the AO3 side.  This was done fast and quick.  It does not contain any letter links.  I have allowed commenting so that people can add links to their letters and any others that they know of.  Don't abuse the commenting or I will turn it off.

I am a bit rushed right now, so the livejournal post will go up later.

Feel free to use this in whatever way you want for making any other documents to help participants.

Google Doc Link


EDIT: I have good news and bad news.  So the underlying issue is still unknown.  However, an AO3 database person was able to get me the CSV file and it was emailed to me.  I will be sending it to the people that requested it for working on spreadsheets with the emails and offers removed.  The bad news is that it did some pretty funky stuff to some of the tags.

Examples:
レ・ミゼラブル 少女コゼット | Les Misérables: Shoujo Cosette
文豪ストレイドッグス | Bungou Stray Dogs

It mostly seems to be fandoms with characters not used in English in the tag.

Hearphones update

Sep. 21st, 2017 12:16 pm
rolanni: (Default)
[personal profile] rolanni

So, we took the car in for the 10,000 mile check-up and tire rotation thingy, then went to IHOP for breakfast and a test drive of the hearphones.

The hearphones...are problematical on two fronts.

Front One:  I can't keep the damned things charged.  Admittedly, this files under Operator Error, but I'm not usually an idiot about keeping the toys charged, so there's some subtlety I'm missing.  And it doesn't lessen Operator Aggravation to arrive at the Test Location and find that the 'phones are, ahem, critically low on power.

Front Two:  Hearing my own voice in my ears is gonna drive me bugs.  And this may actually be a deal-breaker.  Steve urges me to give it another run, to see if I get used to it, which is fair, but at the moment what I'm doing is whispering in an attempt not to hear my own voice, which is...not really much better than sitting like a stump at a group dinner because I can't hear what anyone else is saying.

The plaque (and check) which together comprise "Wise Child's" Readers Choice award arrived yesterday.  The check we deposited in the bank today while we were out and about.  Here is a photograph of the plaque, being modeled by the delightful Mr. Miller.

So, my next order of business is to read another 50ish pages of the Neogenesis page proofs.  Lunch is on the schedule, and, very possibly, a nap, because we not only got up at stoopid o'clock to take the car in, but we got flu shots (the high-test flu shots reserved for those of us who are temporally elongated), too.

Everybody be good.

*whew*

Sep. 21st, 2017 08:55 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
Hurrah for hermiting!

Things I could have done on Wednesday: lunchtime free Zumba class, free Bach Collegium concert.

Things I did do on Wednesday: went straight home, ate, showered, crawled into bed with fanfiction, went to sleep early, sleeeeeeeeeeept.

I feel much better today, in the sense that fewer things hurt physically. And I realized this morning that nothing was stopping me from taking a day off tomorrow. That would mean I can sleep in after "Elizabeth Cree" tonight, and go to bed early before my crack of dawn train to NYC on Saturday morning.

What a removal of mental weight. A day off. How glorious. It will be much easier to enjoy my day in NY with a reasonable amount of sleep beforehand.

Weekly Ballet Post, 9/21/17

Sep. 21st, 2017 10:10 am
sputnikhearts: female ballet student at the barre (tendu)
[personal profile] sputnikhearts
Nothing teaches you the existence of muscles that you didn't know existed like a nice slow dégagé to the side ... except maybe ronde de jambe en l'air. It kind of feels like gravity is wrenching your hip out of its socket.

Other discovery: one major reason that turning is hard is because no matter how good your spotting is, your damn body has to support the spot. If your body can't maintain a vertical line and keep your eyes at the same level in all three axes, you're sunk. This discovery brought to you by trying to do chainé turns quickly, which required going on demipointe, which I was not terribly stable on.

And in the annals of "skills I have but did not find them as helpful as I had hoped," an interesting divide was visible in this week's class. The teacher doesn't always follow the musical pattern during combinations, which drives me batty. Why are you doing four count combinations on music with 3/4 time? Unless you are combining three beats into one. Anyway, at one point she said to do eight jumps, but the music was in 6/8, so a couple of us just ... kept going ... because the measure wasn't over! (And sometimes the teacher totally goes off the beat, and then I just can't follow at all, because the movements and the music don't mesh in my head, and it all gets tossed out of short term memory.)

The other bit where classical piano training made dance hard for me at first is that in ballet, steps are often syncopated. Hence the joke that "and" is a number. At first I was really annoyed by this and thought it was irrational, then realized I was the irrational one. This happens because these movements are usually in two parts: you do the step, then you pull back into the starting position. So if you are doing four tendus in a 4/4 measure, you should extend on 0.5, then close on 1. So that you can extend on 1.5, and be closed again on 2. Etc., with the goal of finishing on the last beat. And if you are doing the steps slower, then you are effectively working in 2/4, and you're still moving on the off-beat. It was a revelation. (I suppose those who did marching band would have understood immediately!)

Unbelievably, however, the best skill I brought to ballet was something I learned from doing junior high musicals. Now I was too terrible to get a real part—four failed tryouts ha ha ha are testament to this fact—but the chorus line (essentially) was come one come all. The pas de bourrée (youtube link)—a really common step in Broadway-ish dancing—was drilled into our skulls and feet. So thanks, Mrs. Hoffenberg. You might have taught me the most out of anyone else in that school, in the end. (Teach the arts in public school! /soapbox)

Speaking of classes, I have now used up the 10-lesson card that I purchased at my current studio. I love my teacher but it is a long drive (now that I've moved) and conflicts with another need for the car this school semester. There's a studio closer to me that I can bike to and gives beginner class on the same night. Am contemplating trying it out next week, although it makes me sad. We shall see. Worst case, I can go back in January.

L'Shana Tovah

Sep. 21st, 2017 04:54 am
sartorias: (candle)
[personal profile] sartorias
L'Shana Tovah, all. L'Shana Tovah.

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