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.