E. B. White in the Paris Review

Found here, what a great interview:

INTERVIEWER

You have wondered at Kenneth Roberts’s working methods—his stamina and discipline. You said you often went to zoos rather than write. Can you say something of discipline and the writer?

WHITE

Kenneth Roberts wrote historical novels. He knew just what he wanted to do and where he was going. He rose in the morning and went to work, methodically and industriously. This has not been true of me. The things I have managed to write have been varied and spotty—a mishmash. Except for certain routine chores, I never knew in the morning how the day was going to develop. I was like a hunter, hoping to catch sight of a rabbit. There are two faces to discipline. If a man (who writes) feels like going to a zoo, he should by all means go to a zoo. He might even be lucky, as I once was when I paid a call at the Bronx Zoo and found myself attending the birth of twin fawns. It was a fine sight, and I lost no time writing a piece about it. The other face of discipline is that, zoo or no zoo, diversion or no diversion, in the end a man must sit down and get the words on paper, and against great odds. This takes stamina and resolution. Having got them on paper, he must still have the discipline to discard them if they fail to measure up; he must view them with a jaundiced eye and do the whole thing over as many times as is necessary to achieve excellence, or as close to excellence as he can get. This varies from one time to maybe twenty.

The whole thing is good.  White describes how he came to draw the above New Yorker cover, his only one.  And he talks about the diaries of Francis Kilbert, which sure do sound interesting.  (Jump to “4. Relations With Girls”)

 

 

 


Roundup of books I haven’t read all the way through but have in a crate in my garage

 

Wow.

PFC Albert Bullock took this one of the damaged Franklin.

My copy is pre-owned and comes already highlighted:

I’ve always hated Hugo’s.  On acting technique:

How about this one, about Australian historians?

Geoffrey Blainey’s recipe for peach-tin eggs:

Graeme Davison on the wrong side of the law in Melbourne:

There are no wasted humans:

 

from the boss Thomas Cleary:

And finally, some Daily Drucker:


Heartlessness

saigyo

My friend Sammy on her Instagram posted some quotes from her boyfriend’s Zen calendar that were not helping.

Due to the turbulent times, Saigyō focuses not just on mono no aware (sorrow from change) but also on sabi (loneliness) and kanashi (sadness). Though he was a Buddhist monk, Saigyō was still very attached to the world and the beauty of nature.

Others elsewhere translate mono no aware as something like beautiful melancholy or a feeling of longing so agonizing it’s pleasure.

To be “heartless” was an ideal of Buddhist monkhood, meaning one had abandoned all desire and attachment.

From Saigyō’s Wikipedia page.

saigyo

Source. Public domain under Japanese law

Above we see Saigyō drawn by Kikuchi Yōsai, famous for his monochrome portraits of historical figures.

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Buffett

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Warren Buffett’s advice always sounds simple, which isn’t the same as easy to follow.
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Loved the doc about him on HBO.  The first scene is him advising high school kids to take care of their minds and bodies.  The second scene is him in the drive-through line at McDonald’s.


Gem from Last Chance U coach

last-chance-u-3

Fair’s where you kiss a pig and give it a blue ribbon.

Massachusetts alt version: fair’s where you go to see a giant pumpkin.

Photo from the 2013 Topsfield Fair via Alex1961 on Flickr

Photo from the 2013 Topsfield Fair via Alex1961 on Flickr


Raise prices?

photo by Joe Pugliese for The New Yorker

photo by Joe Pugliese for The New Yorker, click through for source.  

Tim Ferriss: If you could have one billboard, anywhere with anything on it, what would you put on it? If you wanted to convey a short message to as many people as possible.

Marc Andreessen: I’ve got one, I’ve actually thought about hiring a skywriter to do this one. Right in the heart of San Francisco would be a billboard with just two words on it: Raise Prices.

TF: Raise prices?

MA: Yes. The number one thing – just the theme and we see it everywhere – the number one theme with our companies have when they get really struggling is they are not charging enough for their product. It has become absolutely conventional wisdom in Silicon Valley that the way to succeed is to price your product as low as possible under the theory that if it’s low-priced everybody can buy it and that’s how you get the volume. And we just see over and over and over again people failing with that because they get in the problem we call too hungry to eat. They don’t charge enough for their product to be able to afford the sales and marketing required to actually get anybody to buy it. And so they can’t afford to hire the sales rep to go sell the product. They can’t afford to buy the TV commercial, whatever it is. They cannot afford to go acquire the customers.

TF: Too hungry to eat.

MA: Too hungry to eat. And then they sit there and they don’t sell anything and then they get nervous and then they cut their prices.

TF: And then it’s a race to the bottom.

MA: It just makes the problem worse. And so, probably the single number one thing we try to get our companies to do is raise prices. By the way, it’s like, “Is your product any good if people won’t pay more for it?”

from here.  ReformedBroker warms that up with:

Good advice is worth multiples of what a client pays for it. Mediocre advice is not worth a little less, it’s worth nothing because it won’t be adhered to.


Mournbrag

Look, the nature of grieving is weird, how are you gonna judge how somebody grieves?  (but the typo?!)

This book:

WIT

first got me to really thinking about this.

George HW and Barbara Bush lost a daughter to pediatric leukemia when she was four years old.  Cramer says that something like half of all couples that lose a child split up, because the ways that two people grieve can be so divergent and impossible, even offensive, for the other person to deal with.  The Bushes were determined not to let that happen to them (and they didn’t).

The instinct on Twitter to make someone’s death an opportunity for backhanded aggrandizement sets my nerves on edge.  I’m not sure why that particular thing gnaws at me so much.  Maybe because the whole point of the death of a noble guy, or death at all, might be to remind us how unimportant we are, or to encourage us to be better?

(Hardly a perfect model here: when SDB died I both wanted to talk about him and myself and also at the same time never talk about it.)

This dude David Carr was incredible, his death was shocking, the number of people he seemed to have touched directly is staggering.  In New York in 2009 I was talking to a girl who told me more or less unprompted about truly moving kindnesses and generosity David Carr had extended to her just out of excellence of character and goodness of spirit.

I’ll miss reading the guy’s stuff.  I was just reading his thing about Brian Williams because I’m sure he’d have something to say worth hearing.

Now this is a tribute:

If you can only have one sentence of writing advice, go with this:

“Keep typing until it turns into writing”

If you are prepared for an intense experience on the subject of death and grieving, might I recommend the American Experience “Death And The Civil War”?

If you’re rushed for time, allow me to summarize: the Civil War was a tremendous bummer.