Tag Archives: writing

Reading the Poem, “Advice for Dying Fathers,” at Butler’s Coffee

On Friday night, one of my poet friends (Niccelle Davis) took a picture of me reading a poem to an audience at Butler’s Coffee in Palmdale, California, and posted it at her blog. I didn’t look too fat, so I asked her … Continue reading

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Life Perspective

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Santi Tafarella: Why I Blog

The following was recently posted at the Antelope Valley College website, and I thought I’d put it up here as well: Santi Tafarella Talks About the Ultimate Freedom: Uncensored Thinking Recently AVC faculty member Santi Tafarella passed an amazing number. … Continue reading

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James Wood: Literature Complexifies the Atheist-Theist Debate

In a recent essay for the Guardian, Harvard English professor, James Wood, identifies four ways that literature complexifies the atheist-theist debate. As Wood sees it, literary writers tend to: explore fluctuations in the human psyche; track messy mixtures of truth and error; imaginatively walk in … Continue reading

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Using Aristotle’s Four Causes to Analyze Literature

When Aristotle looked at, say, a tree and asked what caused it, his answer began with matter and form: a tree is a product of the raw matter it is made of (water and wood fibers) channeled through a very particular form … Continue reading

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Close Literary Reading 101: Thinking about How Stories End

I thought it might be fun (at least for me) to lay out, in a series of short blog posts, some of the basic terms and ideas that I present to my students when talking about the “close reading” of literary texts. … Continue reading

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Charles Hood on Africa and the Search for Authenticity

The following photo essay is by Charles Hood, who, like my wife and I, teaches English at Antelope Valley College in Southern California. Unlike us, however, when Charles is between semesters he is not curled up on the sofa sipping hot spiced … Continue reading

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Andre Glucksmann One More Time

I think this is a great quote. It comes from the French philosopher, Andre Glucksmann: Socrates’s uncertainty revealed a rupture that gave birth to philosophy. The divine word is a mystery; it can mean everything or nothing. Zeus neither speaks nor … Continue reading

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A Thankgiving Proclamation from a Governor Who, in 1936, Could Seriously Write

This spell-casting Thanksgiving proclamation was penned by Connecticut Governor Wilber Cross in 1936: Time out of mind at this turn of the seasons when the hardy oak leaves rustle in the wind and the frost gives a tang to the air and … Continue reading

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Cereal, Comma, and Robert Duvall

Not that kind of cereal, but the serial comma. A great example (via Making Light) of what can happen when you drop the serial comma from a sentence: For those who don’t like to squint at small print, the newspaper … Continue reading

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Jack Kerouac: “I enter my page”

A great Jack Kerouac quote on the hollowness of pursuing fame: I can just see the shabby literary man carrying a “bulging briefcase” rushing from one campus to another, one lecture club to another, nodding confirmation with his hosts that … Continue reading

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Christopher Hitchens, Henry David Thoreau, and Peitho

Christopher Hitchens was recently interviewed by Hugh Hewitt, and offered an interesting tidbit on a rhetorical strategy that tends to work for him: [W]hen I write, as often as I can, I try to write as if I’m talking to people. It … Continue reading

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Rod Serling is the Devil!

Not literally, of course. But it occurred to me this morning that Rod Serling’s appeal as a guide to his Twilight Zone episodes is this: he functions as a sublimated devil, the camara darting him into visual consciousness out of nowhere. Serling is a Virgil, but not … Continue reading

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A bit of writing advice from Voltaire

Trying to find your take on the world, and your writing voice? Here’s a bit of advice from the 18th century philosopher, Voltaire (from the “Authors” entry in his Philosophical Dictionary ): If you are said to be sick, content yourself … Continue reading

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“The Prophet”: a poem by Santi Tafarella

Beauty is the first ugliness in line, making those behind blind. The candle’s orange tongue, declaring for God, assures darkness is elsewhere. Your truth is a mask for an undisclosed motive.

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Why I blog

Here’s my list of reasons for blogging: Contingency. Blogging is a rather pure way of embracing contingency (chance). Like dropping a marble down a pachinko machine, I put a random thought out into the world and see what associations it provokes in me and anyone … Continue reading

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Blogging Schick and Vaughn’s “How to Think about Weird Things,” Chapter 3, page 37

Something that jumped out at me early on in chapter 3 of the college critical thinking text, Schick and Vaughn’s How to Think about Weird Things (5th edition, 2008), is the distinction that was made between argument and persuasion. To win support for … Continue reading

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Blogging Schick and Vaughn’s “How to Think about Weird Things,” Chapter 2

Every other year or so I find myself returning to Theodore Schick and Lewis Vaughn’s critical thinking text, How to Think about Weird Things, and rereading the whole darn thing through again. Schick and Vaughn’s book is a rather popular college text, and it’s in its sixth edition. … Continue reading

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A Sentence by Sentence Guide to Making a Blog Post

A brilliant deconstruction. See the full post here. Here’s how it starts: This sentence contains a provocative statement that attracts the readers’ attention, but really only has very little to do with the topic of the blog post. This sentence claims … Continue reading

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The Other 1950s

Hieroglyphs at Karnak (Thebes), circa 1950 BCE:

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