Is technology destroying our imagination? Novelist Isabel Allende believes this is the case. She examines this question (among others) in a recent interview. In A Talk With Chilean Writer Isabel Allende Melodramatic Diva of Magical Feminism she make some fascinating points regarding love and literature.
Allende’s grandchildren are the inspiration for her latest novel Maya’s Notebook. She has concerns regarding the effect of technology on their imaginations. ”Young people today they are texting while they are on a job interview. We all need time. Time to reflect, to be bored. In boredom creativity expands.”
I cannot imagine using a cell phone during an interview. Technology has come a long way since my childhood. I can still recall the Atari video game system I played during the 1980s. There is an appropriate time and place for everything. Some people are capable of making the appropriate adjustments. I am just unsure if the next generation can.
Allende’s comment regarding her grandchildren’s imagination is poignant. In retrospect, my addiction to television mirrors her concerns regarding technology. Although I read a lot more now, I still love my TV. Sometimes, I want to cut a hole in my head and put my brain on a pillow. After work, I just want to watch some sports. Besides, my brain cells are mush. There are days when I feel spent.
What are the effects of watching the idiot box? The ability to focus wavers. Some people (across the generations) have a ten second attention span. The ability to actively engage in any conversation is diluted. Is this what a life-time of television can do for you? Unfortunately, I notice these symptoms in the next generation.
The children today have a lot more technology options beyond the beautiful idiot box.The next generation is glued to their smartphones and tablets during social occasions. While dinning out, some families are hard pressed to have a conversation. How can this happened? Playing games and texting instead of talking are the alternative to family bonding. Is this families maintain their sanity?
While I still have my doubts, there is still hope for the next generation. Teenagers do have other activities. There is still time to prove me wrong. Father time is turning me into a curmudgeon. Regardless, life provides a steep learning curve and no one knows that better than I.
How do you spell ensemble?” Sonya asks. Though this weekend phone call isn’t exactly like run of the mille—they don’t usually start off with spelling quizzes—it’s not completely atypical either. I’m sure God blessed with me with a big sister for several reasons, but the most important of them seems to be that He knew she would keep me on my toes.
1,325 miles separate me from Sonya, but I can always count on her to drive me crazy somehow. Why would she expect me to know how to spell anything? Does she not remember my grades in school? Her baby brother, she seems to have forgotten, depends heavily on Microsoft Word’s spell-check when he writes. The sweat pours over my face from my crown to my chin. Adrenaline flows through my veins. Breathe. Some wordsmith you are, I think.
It turns out Sonya’s five-year-old daughter is preparing to model the latest fashion at a church event, and Sonya has embraced this as a learning opportunity—my niece doesn’t know what an ensemble is, but soon she will. If only I can spell it.
I feel like Atlas with the world on my shoulder, until I’m finally able to provide the correct spelling and definition from memory, and relief sets in.
But why all the stress over a silly word? Why, when rejection letters mount, and I stare down a slew of documents covered in track changes, do I subject myself to the aggravation of caring so deeply about language?
I think it’s because I’ve resolved to find my way through life using writing. As a guy who gets punchy proofreading PowerPoint presentations, it feels like the natural way to plod forward.
I can’t sing, dance, or act. Sometimes, I become tongue-tied during staff meetings. I didn’t inherit my mother’s sharp sense, my sister’s discipline, or my father’s rugged athleticism. Put my in a sporting event, and I turn into Charlie Brown—trying his best to kick the football over and over but always ending up on his back. What I do have is a vivid imagination and a library of fond memories that revolve around reading.
Dallas Morning News aloud for the family. I spent summers in the local library. I wasn’t born an avid reader, but these activities provided a positive outlet for a precarious kid. They shaped me.
In the last few years, I have realized the value of learning through literature. From Cicero to Shakespeare, I find that carefully chosen words can spark the intellect and illuminate the imagination. Books can take readers to entirely new worlds. They can spark curiosity—in my case, a curiosity that, when coupled with hard work, led to internships and ultimately a job in Washington.
I spend my work life reading reports and sorting through data and interacting with policymakers, pundits, and wonks. And the longer I’m here, the more certain I am that regardless of politics or economics, our country will always need individuals who can write well and think critically. So perhaps I’m lucky that my curiosity, my desire to be a reader and a writer—the same things that make Sonya count on me for spelling help on the spot—compel me to stress over selecting just the right word every time.
The challenge may seem unnecessary, but ironically, I wouldn’t have it any other way. And as I’ve embraced the blogosphere as a means of storytelling recently, I’ve realized that the gratification that comes from choosing words so carefully isn’t just internal. The interaction I get there from other writers and bloggers is heartfelt. There’s something inspirational about strangers being willing to provide feedback and encouragement regarding such a personal craft. It becomes somehow collaborative and doubly rewarding.
And the world of words does not care about ethnicity, income, or gender. Writing only asks for originality, and in return, it provides the opportunity to persuade, entertain, and inform. We all yearn for something greater, and for me, there is no greater freedom than the power of self-expression.
Originally published by The Washingtonian
From Robert Frost’s notebooks:
Please Let Me Flourish
Somewhere on earth where as in heaven
desert doesn’t matter.
The inalienable right to fail.
To flourish is to play.
Is there a fine line between meeting deadlines and recovering from the mental fatigue of a long work week? Sometimes, I manage this fine line with procrastination. Procrastination is a very important coping mechanism for this chronic under achieving slacker.
Recently, The Atlantic explores the importance of procrastination in How To Procrastinate at Work: A Complete Guide Research-Based Guide. The article examines the pros and cons of postponement. Specifically, the article cites research regarding the winners of the Intel Science Talent competition. Some winners used procrastination as a trigger for a helpful amount of stress necessary to ignite action. For others, dragging their feet to make a decision serves as a thought incubator. Specifically, they put offer making a decision because they wanted to fully process it before finding a solution.
I want to make my mark in this world more than anything. When it comes to finishing assignments at the office, there is no one who will offer you more energy and effort than I. For several years, I have fought to build my temple for tomorrow through talent, intellect and hectic improvisation. The motto I can, I will and I must usually drives my personality.
How can I offer blood, sweet and hustle when my brains are turning into mush? Sometimes, I just need to walk away from what I working on. Some managers provide people with enough freedom and flexibility to this. There are a few managers that suffocate creativity by constantly looking over your shoulders. Under such leadership, finishing the most menial tasks is so gratifying. I should just shut up and suffer until I get the job done.
Who am I kidding? There are times when I compartmentalized tasks and open Facebook for a break. Occasionally, social media is a time-wasting vortex. I am learning the importance of mindfulness regarding time management. Stress can provide an important sense of urgency to carry out things. Yet, procrastination can provide an appropriate balance between playfulness and productivity
This is just wonderful.
Happy International Childre’s Book Day / Feliz Día Internacional del Libro Infantil 2013 (ilustración de Rafael Lopez)
November 4, 1969 — see The Complete Peanuts 1967-1970
After reading a few mediocre novels I realize that literary critics play an important role in shaping cultural tastes. According to Kenneth Tynan, the “critic’s job – at least nine-tenths of it – is to make way for the good-by demolishing the bad.” More importantly, the reviewer can offer insight into an author’s work that the layperson may not consider. The critic is the specialist who has spent years developing their expertise.
The critic’s role is vital in the development of literature. Individuals cannot possibly read every work. The book reviewer can guide reader’s choice and thinking. There is so much to consider in reviewing fiction.
What makes a good review stand out? After providing a summary of the book, a critic must offer an evaluation. “In some ways, I think the summary is the least important part of the review,” offered Maureen Corrigan. Dr. Corrigan is a book critic for the National Public Radio and is a she teaches literature at Georgetown University. “We’ve all read reviews or been in the company of reading bores who want to tell us all about ‘what happened’ in a book. Summaries are snoozers. I think judgment, engagingly expressed, is the most essential part of a review. Context is also important: where does this book stand in light of similar books, scholarship in the field, or the author’s own work?”
The first consideration is what the author is trying to convey in their work. Did the writer convey their story in very creative and clear way? Or is the text filed with unclear language? “Something has to be striking about a novel within the first 50 or so pages or else I will put it down,” said Dr. Corrigan. “If it’s a début novel or I will write a mixed review. That ‘something striking’ can be the voice, the plot, the setting, the mood, the language … the possibilities are open,” she said.
Another consideration is whether or not the book is worth a reader’s time. “Books that take you into a new world are worth your time said Corrigan. “A book that’s worth your time is not necessarily the same as a book you enjoy. I don’t particularly enjoy Henry James, although I recognize that he’s not a time-waster.”
For the critic, a review is a form of self-expression. “Yes, criticism is absolutely self-expression” said Corrigan. “I appreciate critics who acknowledge their own limitations, biases, enthusiasms. I think critics must demonstrate, through their own good writing, their authority to pass judgment on someone else’s work. Daniel Mendelson, Laura Miler, Parul Seghal, James Woolcott, Katha Pollitt—these are a few of the critics whose work I pay attention to.”
Nowadays readers do not always have time to sort through newspapers and magazines for book reviews. The digital age offers a proliferation of online reviews. “I think smart consumers know that reviews like the ones that appear on Amazon are not to be trusted, given that they’re often written by the author’s mother or friends,” said Corrigan. “People who are serious about their love for books will seek out the lively and intelligent sites and forget the rest. I guess I still believe in the idea of meritocracy in this democratic age of criticism we’re living in: the liveliest and most knowledgeable critics will be the ones who folks will want to pay attention to,”
Random Thoughts And Observations
Duet by Frans Mier
We are so much closer to spring. I am looking forward to the end of winter. By…
The Story of my life. I wonder who will win in the end.