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.


1 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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