Monday, August 07, 2006

After over a year I received a rejection on Saturday from The Sow’s Ear (a literary magazine in Winchester, Virginia). They apologized for the delay and said that they are usually better about responding in a timely fashion. The poem that came closest for them was “The Line Begins Here.”

I’ve been doing a lot of revising within the last week or so. I want to look over my poems again before I send out some more submissions.

I finished reading Claudia Emerson’s Late Wife. I really appreciate how the book is put together. Very clean and discernable structure. A good example of how less can be more (the book is a slim collection of about 55 pages). The poems themselves are accessible and fun to read. I think this would be an excellent book to teach students about how to put a collection of poems together.


from “Essay on Psychiatrists”

II. Some Terms

“Shrink” is a misnomer. The religious
Analogy is all wrong, too, and the old,
Half-forgotten jokes about Viennese accents

And beards hardly apply to the good-looking woman
In boots and a knit dress, or the man
Seen buying the Sunday Times in mutton-chop

Whiskers and expensive jogging shoes.
In a way I suspect that even the terms “doctor”
And “therapist” are misnomers; the patient

Is not necessarily “sick.” And one assumes
That no small part of the psychiatrist’s
Role is just that: to point out misnomers.

--Robert Pinsky


The following is an exchange between me and a friend over a quote. My friend provided the quote, and we alternated talking about it over e-mail. I think it is an interesting commentary over the dangers of giving power over yourself to an institution.

With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil -- that takes religion.-- Steven Weinberg

There's truth in that in many cases.

I would say so…

It is possible for a good person to do evil without the influence of religion. The desire for revenge could overwhelm a good person and cause them to maim or murder for example (e.g., a mother finding her child raped and murdered). I think the point of the quote is not that religion MUST be the influencing agent and always present for good people to do evil, but that it can certainly pervert people into doing evil while convincing them that the acts are good because the religion says so. I imagine that this is a contemporary quote, perhaps commenting on things like the justifications used for the 9/11 attacks.

I would agree with your assessment. When I read the quote I had a flash to 1930s Germany……the way someone to whom you give power over yourself (be it government or religion) can encourage good people to do or accept horrible things. I was also thinking of the whackos parading around in the streets with their "God Hates Fags" signs and such. Weinberg is a nobel laureate (physics - 1979) so the quote is probably contemporary in that sense.

I like the way you said this: "...the way someone to whom you give power over yourself (be it government or religion) can encourage good people to do or accept horrible things."

:-) makes me ill when people parrot boneheads and refer to torture as "practical joking" and such… about accepting and condoning the most atrocious behavior.


Be yourself. No one can ever tell you you're doing it wrong.
--James Hirlihy

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
--Mahatma Gandhi


From my Bazooka Joe gum fortunate for today (no, really):

You have the ability to become outstanding in literature.


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