Found and borrowed from here, while trying to find this quote, paraphrased here, from James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man:
“I will tell you what I will do and what I will not do. I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it calls itself my home, my fatherland, or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defense the only arms I allow myself to use — silence, exile, and cunning.”
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.
…and what more appropriate time to celebrate my family than as Thanksgiving approaches. Halloween is behind us, and I am in no way encouraging any of you to put up Christmas decorations. All in good time. (It has been fun to scheme and dream about the perfect Hanukkah/Thanksgiving fusion menu. I propose latkes with Mama Stamberg’s insane pink horseradish-spiked creamy cranberry relish.)
But some of you are out there writing gift lists, I just know it, so to inspire your thinking and promote my near and dear I’ve compiled some suggestions for you.
All Christmas lists start with books, because one of the happiest times is that moment on Christmas when everyone is tired and full and you all snuggle onto couches with a pile of books that have just entered your life, to look at, to browse, to dream over, to read excerpts from aloud to each other.
My sister Rosy’s beautiful book Paul Meets Bernadette hits the shelves on December 10. You can preorder it now, and it will reach you in plenty of time to give to every kid on your list—or ask your local bookstore to make sure they get it in right away. Gorgeous paintings and a story with a much larger point: every one of us needs a Bernadette in our lives. Here’s the trailer, made by our multitalented friend Jesse Beecher:
No child’s bookshelf is complete without my father’s book, with his friend David, Tell Me the Day Backwards. It’s not just a charming story with charming pictures, it gives you a new game to play with your kids, a bedtime tradition that will expand their sense of the world and their capacity to think broadly.
Look what I just found:
The holidays are a traditional time to get in touch with our far-flung loved ones. Consider writing them notes on my mother’s holiday cards. Her posters and greeting cards make inspired and inspiring gifts, and who doesn’t want to find one of these bumper stickers in the bottom of his stocking?
Looking for something grander? Imagine your musical loved one waking up to find my brother Roli’s (and ROLI‘s) Limited First Edition Seaboard GRAND under the tree! More videos here.
For those hard-to-buy for darlings who only appreciate a sui generis gift, commission a piece in wood or metal from my brother Jack. So many of the beautiful objects in my house emerged from his hands.
And the lucky among you in the Burlington, VT area can give a gift that hits two of my favorite high notes: a session with my sister Jasmine promotes relaxation and is absolutely clutter-free—in fact it could help you declutter in more ways than one.
There you have it, gifts to nurture mind and body, spirit and creativity, and a chance for me to spend part of the afternoon appreciating the family I was born into. Of course these works of their hands aren’t why I love them—I love them for their humor and presence, their lively minds, their ceaseless seeking and questioning, their loving hearts. Thank you, family.
How astonishing it is that language can almost mean,
and frightening that it does not quite. Love, we say, God, we say, Rome and Michiko, we write, and the words
get it all wrong. We say bread and it means according
to which nation. French has no word for home,
and we have no word for strict pleasure. A people
in northern India is dying out because their ancient
tongue has no words for endearment. I dream of lost
vocabularies that might express some of what
we no longer can. Maybe the Etruscan texts would
finally explain why the couples on their tombs
are smiling. And maybe not. When the thousands
of mysterious Sumerian tablets were translated,
they seemed to be business records. But what if they
are poems or psalms? My joy is the same as twelve
Ethiopian goats standing silent in the morning light.
O Lord, thou art slabs of salt and ingots of copper,
as grand as ripe barley lithe under the wind’s labor.
Her breasts are six white oxen loaded with bolts
of long-fibered Egyptian cotton. My love is a hundred
pitchers of honey. Shiploads of thuya are what
my body wants to say to your body. Giraffes are this
desire in the dark. Perhaps the spiral Minoan script
is not a language but a map. What we feel most has
no name but amber, archers, cinnamon, horses and birds.
I had so much fun at the NH Arts Education Conference working on this project below with a whole bunch of lovely people including the Three Musketeers, who may in fact not have been Musketeers at all, but three of The Five Chinese Brothers, each with a trick up his sleeve. Thanks, John, Mark, Bob and the rest of the gang.
And for the fun of working on this project, thank you to Alan and the council.
And for putting it all together, thanks to Frumie and Catherine and their colleagues. So. Much. Fun.
And another saint, newly shining in the firmament… Thank you, Saint Lou, one of my great inspirations, for your lifetime of creative output, for following your own instincts around your work rather than the desires of the marketplace, for working and working and working at your craft.
[Sad...they've taken down the full version of the documentary that I'd posted here, Lou Reed: Rock and Roll Heart. You can watch the first four parts, subtitled in Spanish (which is actually kind of fun), here, and then watch parts 7 and 8 subtitled in Italian to finish it out. Still so worth it. I could listen to John Cale's voice all night. And the shots of New York in the '60s...they make me nostalgic for my parents' youth in those few moments before I turned up.]
Thank you for “Heroin,” one of the great songs of all time.
For “Songs for Drella” with John Cale, a tribute to another hard-working artist.
Cut vegetables…roots, alliums, Brussels sprouts, you name it. Similar sizes are good, larger for softer veg, smaller for the ones that take a while to cook. Ample olive oil, salt, herbs if you like. Potatoes and onions with sage, yum. Sweet potatoes with mustard seeds, lemon and garam masala. Etc. Toss. Roast in a slow oven to caramelize, or in a hotter oven if you’re hungry. Try rutabaga and turnips, sweet potatoes, beets of every color. Leftovers of some combinations of roasted vegetables (e.g. onions, carrots, garlic, squash, thyme) can be blended into a delicious creamy soup with the addition of stock or water, maybe some cream or other white stuff. Roasting is a good way to warm up your chilly house of an evening. (Still waiting for the wood stove to be rebuilt.)