Wednesday, December 4, 2019

"We Have Lived by the Assumption"

Maybe I'm a Wendell Berry Fangirl.

Or maybe the world is just becoming increasingly stuck in a moment that needs what Wendell Berry has to offer.

Or maybe it's just because a former student wrote me this past week to say he'd been reading through a collection of Wendell Berry essays, and he wanted to thank me for connecting him with the man. 

Whatever the case, here's another bit of Wendell Berry:

"We have lived by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. And this has been based on the even flimsier assumption that we could know with any certainty what was good even for us. We have fulfilled the danger of this by making our personal pride and greed the standard of our behavior toward the world - to the incalculable disadvantage of the world and every living thing in it. And now, perhaps very close to too late, our great error has become clear. It is not only our own creativity - our own capacity for life - that is stifled by our arrogant assumption; the creation itself is stifled. 
We have been wrong. We must change our lives, so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and to learn what is good for it. We must learn to cooperate in its processes, and to yield to its limits. But even more important, we must learn to acknowledge that the creation is full of mystery; we will never entirely understand it. We must abandon arrogance and stand in awe. We must recover the sense of the majesty of creation, and the ability to be worshipful in its presence. For I do not doubt that it is only on the condition of humility and reverence before the world that our species will be able to remain in it." 

From his essay, A Native Hill

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

an endless green monument

One Sunday
I sat at
Wendell Berry's
at Tanya Berry's
at the Berrys' kitchen table.

We drank their water
from their mason jars:

The Berrys,
me,
and my fiancée

(not mine yet, not exactly--
not like those jars were theirs--
but almost.
Soon).

Sunday, October 20, 2019

I'm Having Wendell Berry's Dream

I keep coming back to Wendell Berry's poems, and I don't think it's just because I have a book full of them in my bathroom.

After all, there's an extensive library in the ol' Barkey Throne Room, and unlike Berry's poetry, a lot of the books have pretty pictureswhich make for easy reading as I'm completing my digestive process.

And yet...

I find myself endlessly re-reading Berry's poem The Dream, and I think it's because in it he brilliantly calls out both the Big Problem, as well as the reason any solution is bound to sputter.

Check it out...

Sunday, September 15, 2019

a poem for a Sunday...

When an early bird
deftly plucks a spider
from her dew starred morning web,
she leaves behind a work of art
no less beautiful
and no more ephemeral
than an abandoned cathedral in the mist.
A man (or woman) could work an entire lifetime
and never make something so harmonious,
so mysterious,
so captivating in its power.
Think on this, you small Creators 
you who are no Frank Lloyd Wright, no Gaudí.
Think, when the opportunity of your life
leads you to both wonder and despair.
Sit in the dew starred silence and know
that although your striving will be all a vanity...
nonetheless...
because you were here,
that same web's cold intent,
now seen,
has become a thing held in eternity 
a thing as precious
as your own,
flitting,
dew starred
life.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

"Dont' Call, Don't Show"

Despite my lack of musical talent, I seem to have developed an uncontrollable songwriting habit. My wife says my funny songs are my best songs, so here you go:

Sunday, May 26, 2019

regret

Depending on what kind of music fan you are, this story may make you want to punch me in the face.

In the early 2000s I was living in a dilapidated camper/trailer in my friend's back yard in Maple Ridge, British Columbia. It was winterwhich in British Columbia means it was drizzly-cold and gray most of the timeand it was on one of those dark, drippy evenings when my friend Kirsten called and told me I had to get down to Vancouver that night to see her boyfriend's band play a show. I think the venue was Richard's on Richards, but the details are a bit hazy.

What is not hazy is Kirsten's enthusiasm for the band, with which she was at the time touring the countryhandling their merch table.

"They're really, really good," she said. "Nobody knows who they are yet, but they're totally gonna be famous. Come on down. You can hang out with me and the band in the green room and then afterwards we can maybe do something. But seriously. They're awesome. You'll love them."

So, yeah. Girlfriend thinks her boyfriend's band is awesome. Yawn.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Remembering Danny Fast

Looking back, I can't quite understand why Danny Fast was my friend. He was, after all, twenty years older than me, and when we first started spending time together I was just a little boyyounger by several years than my eleven year son old is today.

I know why I was his friend, though: Danny was a celebrity.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Lives of Fishermen

I got my first canoe when I was twelve years old. It was a dugout, which I bought new for I think forty bucks from a skilled local craftsman whose name I can't remember. A criminally low price for something he’d worked on for weeks: chopping the tree with an axe, burning out the middle, and then hand-hewing the wood until he had the perfectly shaped little boat-for-one. And a small one, at that: I was a pint-sized, introverted, and bookish little pre-teen, the child of missionary schoolteachers growing up barefoot and half wild in the Amazon basin of Peru, South America.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

My Top-Ten Favorite Films (and more) of 2018

This is not a Best-Of list, because ranking art is silly. These are just the filmed entertainments I watched and liked most, and that I felt were fine exemplars of their respective genres.  So without further ado...

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

strength

Lately I've been thinking about how much the patriarchy sucks (in part due to the novel THE POWER, by Naomi Alderman). Perhaps that's whywhen I was looking for something to doodle on to keep my hand in the ol' arting gameI chose to incorporate a couple of images from a National Geographic article about widowed women who are fighting back against marginalization in oppressive cultures.

Or maybe I just thought they looked cool.


Thursday, October 25, 2018

The PINKest of all trailers!!!

Really super stoked to share the trailer for my first produced feature film, PINK, which will have its worldwide premiere at the Cucalorus Film Festival at 1:30pm on Thursday, November 8 in the historic Thalian hall. Can't make it? There's a second screening on Saturday, November 10 at 4:00pm in the Station Main theater. Go to the Cucalorus website for your tickets!

Pink Trailer from Jacob Kirby on Vimeo.

The trailer was cut by the multi-talented Jacob Kirby (who was also our first AD, on-set DIT, and pinch hitter with the boom mic).

I'd like to blame all the inappropriate stuff in this movie on our uber-talented, wildly improvising actors, but some of it's definitely on me. What can I say... I was workin' through some stuff. You've been warned :-)

Friday, October 12, 2018

A movie I wrote (finally) gets its world premiere!

So stoked! My first produced feature length comedy film, PINK, will have its worldwide premiere at the Cucalorus Film Festival at 1:30pm on Thursday, November 8 in the beautiful and historic Thalian hall.



 Can't make it? There's a second screening on Saturday, November 10 at 4:45pm in the Station Main theater. Check out the Cucalorus website for more details!


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Stretching the Tree

John L. Milligan
My maternal grandfather died of lung cancer when I was eight years old. He was sixty-five.

I remember him as a mountain. A strong, ready-smiling man who loved to wrestle with us on the living room floor and then read, side-by-side, on the couch. By the time I knew him, his blond hair had turned yellow-white. He seemed infinitely old, but he and my grandmother nonetheless traveled every year to visit our family where we lived in the Amazon, in Peru. He was a kind, generous man.

Although I didn't know it at the time, he was also an intellectuala man who overcame a vicious stutter and early diagnosis as mentally handicapped to earn a doctorate in agriculture and nutrition, eventually working as an executive in the poultry division at Purina foods. Before "retiring" to the house-flipping he was doing when he died, he volunteered his considerable knowledge to work in development around the world. This last perhaps most notably in Peru, where my barely-post-teen American mother met my Canadian father and whirlwind-romanced their way toward the culmination that is myself (he said, joking).

Thursday, August 2, 2018

me 'n Ernie

It has been fifty six days since I typed the last word of my latest novel and closed the file. 

The novel is called "Marlene the Divine." 
The last word is "balderdash." 

The dictionary defines balderdash as "a nonsensical jumble of words," and as I stare at that pile of papers on my desk I get the sinking feeling that it might have been a little too appropriate a conclusion. Have I written the worst possible book? Is this a monstrous waste of paper? Have I violated the sanctity of some happy little north-Canadian tree for something people are just going to hate or, worse, ignore?

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