A Few Favorite Things…


Dear New School Friends:

Thank you for being so generous in supporting The New School in 2017. We depend on you. You have been most generous.

What can I say about the new year? The political drama continues, but the culture is responding. The #MeToo movement is an extraordinary cultural phenomenon. It is perilous to read history in the making. But this does appear a lasting step forward for women — and for men as well.

I won’t let the political drama take over my life. This is an article of faith for me. So I devote my evenings especially to the concerns of The New School — nature, culture, and the inner life.

Over the holidays, I read Charles Dickens seriously for the first time. Hard Times, Oliver Twist, and David Copperfield.
I also read a biography of Dickens — not among the best, so I won’t name it, but it got me started reading the novels.

I have friends who tell me that the biography of the author doesn’t matter to them, it is only the text that matters. I understand their
view, but I do differ. The biography tells me the writer’s story, and that matters to me.

For example, I am intrigued by the often discredited view that Francis Bacon wrote Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets. The theory has fallen out of favor, but the idea still intrigues me.

Earlier this year I read Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales seriously for the first time. The vitality is extraordinary. Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Dickens each was able to “contain” such a range of realized characters within themselves. Each wrote with a certain ironic detachment from what they were describing.

I have Emily Wilson’s new translation of The Odyssey high on my list. I am amazed at the achievement of my old friend Christian Wertenbaker in his new book, The Enneagram of G.I. Gurdjieff: Mathematics, Metaphysics, Music and Meaning.

I am giving a few friends CDs of one of my favorite pieces of music, Keith Jarrett’s Koln Concert. I remain enchanted by the poetry of Rilke, Hafiz, and Rumi.

These are a few of my favorite things. I refuse to let “the noise of the time” drown out what makes life worth living. I pray that you find your way to safeguard your inner life. Nil bastardum carborundum.

Be well. Thanks for being part of The New School community.


One thought on “A Few Favorite Things…

  1. Hi Michael,

    Just riff off your favorite things, I too have always loved The Koln Concert since I first heard it in 1975. I confess that I am not now and never have been a dancer, but I cannot not move when listening to the first 9 minutes of his Bregenz Concert and part one of the Sapporo concert is sublime.
    Also, when I was in college, I read the Barry Goldwater had a sign in his office: illegitimi non carborundum. Supposedly “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.” We were about to paint slogans on a fence, so I asked my revered comparative lit professor if this was correct. He said no (illegimimi doesn’t mean anything in Latin) and the next day brought me this: Nothi te non deprimendum est. and then, when I asked, this: Aedificia alta cum saltu solo potest trans salire. “Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.”
    Happy new year….

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