Why your garden path is cleverer than you, or, on the nobility of the humble pietra

Pietra – Italian. Meaning – stone 'You rock, rock'– I Heart Huckabees It seems that in everyday life, much of our energies and efforts are directed towards finding guidance, a sense of direction, or advice for how to be a better person. We turn to work in order to cultivate personal and public success. We turn… Continue reading Why your garden path is cleverer than you, or, on the nobility of the humble pietra

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Take your books to the tomatoes

When I was younger, my grandmother made me a little bag. Roughly half the size of an A4 page, it has no zips, no cover and nothing particularly remarkable about it. Every day, I wore it to school beneath my blazer, for it was perfect for slipping books into, and this indeed had been its… Continue reading Take your books to the tomatoes

“Where one burns books, there eventually one eventually burns people”

The title of today’s post is a quote by German poet Heinrich Heine and I have chosen it to mark what is about the middle of Banned Books Week. In the spirit of keeping track of what we might have missed out on, I thought it worth sharing some of my favourites that have over the… Continue reading “Where one burns books, there eventually one eventually burns people”

On the Value of Silence and a Private Druid

Recently, because the person dearest to me has been unwell, I have been spending more time than I usually would hanging around hospitals. Never one for whom hospitals have invited the most pleasant thoughts the experience of going in as a visitor everyday has, oddly, become something that I look forward to. This could just… Continue reading On the Value of Silence and a Private Druid

What is wrong with being ordinary?

There are many annoying things about advertising. How loud and in your face it can be, The way you are sold a product through an (often highly polished and unrealistic) image of a coveted lifestyle, And the way women’s heads are periodically removed from their bodies: But one theme in advertising that has been bothering… Continue reading What is wrong with being ordinary?

On the Train Towards Tralfamadore

So, for something different....This piece was written as a dialogue between Djuna Barnes' character 'Dr.' Matthew O'Connor, and Kurt Vonneguts' character, Billy Pilgrim. Both Nightwood and Slaugherhouse-Five take place in the historical context of World War II. However, as Vonnegut wrote his novel in the 1960s during the Vietnam War, interesting parallels can be drawn between… Continue reading On the Train Towards Tralfamadore

Vonnegut’s letter to the draft board.

Penguin Blog

It’s fairly rare that the written word moves us to actual tears, but we’ve shed a few reading the very moving letter that Kurt Vonnegut, author of Slaugherhouse-Five and Cat’s Cradle, wrote to the Vietnam Draft Board about his son’s registration as a conscientious objector in 1967. Demonstrating the meaning of fatherly love, it details the reasons Vonnegut is proud of his son for making the choice to refuse to fight.

November 28, 1967

TO DRAFT BOARD #1, SELECTIVE SERVICE,

HYANNIS, MASS.

Gentlemen:

My son Mark Vonnegut is registered with you. He is now in the process of requesting classification as a conscientious objector. I thoroughly approve of what he is doing. It is in keeping with the way I have raised him. All his life he has learned hatred for killing from me.

I was a volunteer in the Second World War. I was an infantry scout, saw…

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