What causes you to read what you read?

Winter and the Wolf Moon

Monday gratefuls: Still pruning. Robin comes next week. With Michelle. Joe gearing up for more Jon’s estate related work. Seoah in her golf clothes. Ready for the WPGA. Sartorially at least. Imani Perry. Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The Glass Bead Game. Siddartha. 1001 Tales of the Arabian Nights. Ovid’s Metamorphosis. Kafka. Asimov. The Foundation series. Rilke. The Torah. Snow. Light covering on the Lodgepole Branches. All my relations, blood and otherwise. Kate and Michael. Max, who has covid.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: A good book, a good chair


Ancient Brothers on good writing. Ode wanted good sentences. What makes literature art. Bill quoted his favorites Chardin and Eckhart. Paul went with the dystopian. Cormac McCarthy. Ode read from a Kristy Tippet book. Said John McPhee was his favorite author. Tom read quotes from Haruki Murakumi, Tolstoy, Richard Powers. I admitted the art of literature was not as important to me as the content. I did read a few lines from Imani Perry because she’s my current literary heroine. “Our roots took different routes.”

What fascinated me. How different our literary inclinations were. Paul’s dystopian bent. Ode’s non-fiction emphasis, focused on McPhee. Bill’s leaning toward the mystical and the theophilosophical. Tom’s variety was closer to my own wandering interests. Some classics, some modern. Some nonfiction. I know we all read outside the interest areas we discussed on Sunday. But the inclinations. Interesting.

What in us draws us to what we read? My own reading compass twirls. And stops. Often at authors who influenced authors I’ve just read. Romain Rolland for example who influenced Herman Hesse. Or, it points to easy reads like CJ Box’s Joe Pickett series. Then back to Ovid or the Arabian Nights. Perhaps the path it shows relates to what influences current times. Imani Perry. On occasion it stops and shows science reading like Carlo Rovelli. Why though?

Here a few guesses. I love other cultures so I’ll often read classics to see what literature helped shape them. Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Monkey’s Journey to the West. Dream of the Red Chamber. China. Memoirs of a Geisha. Pachinko about Korean immigrants in Japan. That last one also influenced by Seoah in my life. A love of knowing the backstory leads me to books like Perry’s South to America. Listening to others speak in their own voice. My compass points that way often. At other times the compass reads: educate yourself. Filling lacunae in my education. Rovelli. Lewis Hyde. Nature writing.

What influences your reading compass?


MLK. His day. Watched Coach Prime on Amazon video. A four part series about Deion Sanders. Coaching at Jackson State in Jackson, Mississippi. What struck me. The easy way the team and the coaches professed their love and appreciation for each other. The way the Black community of Jackson, many of them alumni, loved their school, an HBCU. The acknowledgment made often. If we don’t care for each other who will?

In Imani Perry’s book she identifies the HBCU’s, most begun by the formerly enslaved, as key to Black culture. Sanders fits in. His tough love approach is not a front or an act. He means it. And the players love him back.

Made me wonder if the secret sauce for the survival of our nation might lie in those groups who’ve had to struggle to survive it. How would White male culture change if we openly professed love for each other instead of retreating to our man caves to watch football. Ironic, eh? How would our technomagic/industrial complex change if we took the Indian’s values for land and family into it. Or the nuclear/individual/individuated White family structure look if we learned from the extended families of our Latino neighbors?

Is there a way to crack us open to receive what we push away, demean, belittle, marginalize, even kill? Think what a White/Brown/Black/Red/Yellow U.S. culture might look like. I think it would be the strongest, most supple, most creative, most just, most kind, most ecologically sensitive culture on earth.

It has never occurred to me before that ending racism is not only about justice, and it damn well needs to be, but also about a great wakin’ up mornin’ where that dream of MLK’s is our everyday.

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