Pages Menu
TwitterFacebooklogin
Categories Menu

Posted by on Aug 23, 2012 in Blog, Book Reviews, Essays | 2 comments

Remembering “Doctor Love” — Leo Buscaglia

 

Dr. Love Photo

 

I chose to define courage differently than most.

To many, courage is associated with conflict.  The most obvious example of conflict occurs with war.  Sometimes brave acts are performed by extraordinary people in the most trying of circumstances which, no doubt, merits the badge of courage.

But courage is manifested in other ways, as well.  In more everyday settings, not by brave soldiers, but by common people.  By us and people like us.

Alas, we all have the capacity to perform courageous acts and be courageous.  Our challenge is to avoid taking the easy road in life and pursuing the paths of greatest resistance.  To do the things that are the most difficult.  To stand for the things that are least popular.  To fight for the things that are noble and good.

Indeed, courage can manifest itself in much simpler ways.  It need not be a grandiose undertaking.  It need not be associated with parades of publicity.  Rather, some of the most meaningful acts of courage begin with a simple spoken word, a phone call, a smile, or a touch.  Which is not to say these simple acts of kindness are easy.  Some are painstakingly difficult.  Which is what makes them courageous.

The man I’m writing about today spoke, wrote, and lived with passion.  Sadly, he  is no longer with us.  But his many inspirational thoughts and ideas remain with us.  They have become his legacy.  They were his gift to us.  One of the most profound things he wrote was the following:

“It’s not enough to have lived.  We should be determined to live for something.  May I suggest that it be creating joy for others, sharing what we have for the betterment of personkind, bringing hope to the lost and love to the lonely.”

What a beautiful idea.

Read More

Posted by on Aug 2, 2012 in Blog, What's Left | 0 comments

An Intellectual Lion: Gore Vidal (1925-2012)

Gore Vidal Photo

 

Gore Vidal died yesterday.

In obituaries which appeared over that last 24 hours, he’s been described as a writer and protagonist.

He wrote.

He ran for office (losing both times).

He commented.

He thought.

And, he provoked — and he certainly did that far better than most.

Like his more recent now deceased contemporaries Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, and William F. Buckley and in the mold of great thinkers of yesteryear such as H.L. Mencken, Upton Sinclair, and even Mark Twain, he was a fixture on the intellectual circuit.  He basked in the spotlight in a time when writers were afforded the same celebrity as rock stars.  One colleague pined, “he was the man who knew everyone.”

Vidal was a wildly controversial figure, no doubt.  Audiences — those who cared enough about society and culture to follow his ceaseless parade of provocation, now increasingly dissolved in what’s spawned into a grotesque 140-character Twitterized world — would describe his ideas as eccentric and hopelessly out of touch.

As if that’s a “bad thing.”

To the contrary.  We need more eccentrics.  We need more thinkers who are out of touch.  And, we need more Gore Vidals.  And sadly, we now have one less.

The intent of a great writer and meaningful prose should not be — to be right all the time.  Writing, discussion, debate, inquiry, and ultimately provocation is not about prim and proper conformity to expectations and comfort zones.  Indeed, great writers should shun such a horrifying prospect.  You will forgive me for admitted bias, but whatever inside the box “is,” the thinker should be standing on the outside and perhaps as far away from the middle as possible.  And few stood any further from the apex of old-fashioned traditions as Gore Vidal.

Indeed, great writer does not necessarily implant what one must think.  But he (or she) should inspire one TO THINK.

There is a profound difference.  And no one understood that different better than Vidal and his fellow lions of intellect.

Gore Vidal did plenty of thinking, urging others to contemplate their own existence, their own sense of right and wrong, during an 86-year adventure, ultimately a fruitful life filled with the handiwork of books, plays , articles, essays , debate appearances, speeches, and participation in all forums which encouraged the free exchange of ideas.

This has been a tough year for writers, no doubt.  Eight months ago, we lost Christopher Hitchens, a thinker of extraordinary immensity.  Now, we have lost another.

Although I never met Vidal, I think of myself as someone who knew him — through his words and ideas.  Perhaps his greatest contribution and of those like him was to inspire others to carry on and push the envelope of ideas, to challenge conventionalism, and blaze new paths towards enlightenment.

In your memory, Mr. Vidal.  Thank you.

 

Read More
css.php