On Knowing If You’re Any Good

  If you’re a writer, you’ll live your life not knowing if you’re any good.  And you’ll die not knowing.  I think John Berryman said that.  After Phil Levine published his first book of poems, people said, yeah, but can you do it again?  Then he did it again.  Then they said, yeah, but have… Continue reading On Knowing If You’re Any Good

Maybe being a success-bot isn’t the way after all?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJhUs1L_RQo

The Peanut Gallery: Purveyors of Fine Hatred Since 1880

When I began teaching as a graduate student, publishing in magazines, and generally moving my life forward in visible ways, I learned a difficult lesson that accompanies progress: people don’t like it when you succeed.  They don’t want to see it.  They don’t want to know about it.  And if they become aware that you… Continue reading The Peanut Gallery: Purveyors of Fine Hatred Since 1880

Surpassing Meritocracy: the Artist’s Way

There are many different paths to greatness, not just the ones most commonly identified by conformist culture.  As long as your basic needs are met, where you put your energy—how you pursue excellence—is completely your business.  Realizing this can be difficult and gradual. It seems true, even if we admit that discourses (value systems) will… Continue reading Surpassing Meritocracy: the Artist’s Way

I Just Had to Let It Go

  America I've given you all and now I'm nothing.  America two dollars and twenty-seven cents January 17, 1956.  I can't stand my own mind. —Allen Ginsberg, America If there is such a thing as a formula for success in life, it might go something like this: don't complain, get results, and watch your back.… Continue reading I Just Had to Let It Go

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place Not Requiring Fumigation

I'm back in Oxford today, immanentizing the eschaton once again in the Social Sciences Library, where I must regularly do at least 67% of all my work. The other 33% is done either in pubs (sometimes quiet and wonderful places to sit, sometimes full of stinkin' drunks, though what do you expect, eh?) or coffee… Continue reading A Clean, Well-Lighted Place Not Requiring Fumigation