I just put the next to the last chapter of my current book, A Moon Every Night up for my early readers. I might finish the last chapter before the end of the year, or I might not. It is the sixth in my series of novels about Line, Marty and Paul, and there is only one more to come. I’ve been giving this work as much attention as I can, partly to finish before someone, or some thing, stops me! I will need three or four edit cycles to finish the book, of course. It will probably be published some time in February. At any rate, I am feeling accomplished.
|Northerners, photographed by Peter Taylor|
Frederick Turner, a Shakespeare scholar and poet, has written a book entitled The Culture of Hope, a New Birth of the Classical Spirit. This wide-ranging critique of the prevailing culture comes from his background in both the sciences and the humanities. He feels our culture is in crisis at many points, particularly in academic circles. He describes here how the humanities have been subverted by an interest in power, while at the same time the sciences have become less determined, more interested in evolutionary development and emergence.
I’ve been watching for cultural change for a long time, perhaps because I’ve often felt myself swimming upstream in my relationship to culture. I’ve been interested in “real matter,” those things we can perceive with our senses but which have a spirit indivisible from that matter. I’ve been interested in the family and how it cradles each of us in a net both sticky and sustaining. And I’ve been trying to sort out values of wholeness and balance, rather than needing to express every last personal idiosyncrasy. I’m not sure that what I am working on gets into my books, but that is the intent.
Readers of this blog will have noted my fascination with the theories of wholeness propounded by the architect and mathematician Christopher Alexander. I’ve been very much inspired by the scientist E.O. Wilson’s recent books and his plea for consilience between the humanities and sciences. I look for change in our artists too, seeing it in the widespread success of such things as the musical Hamilton, in authors such as Ruth Ozeki and Arundhati Roy, and in the ongoing interest in the lyrics and life of Leonard Cohen. What is the structure, the underlying meaning of life? Who can tell us?
In addition to working on my series So Are You to My Thoughts, I’ve kept up my blog about women characters, both fictional and real. By this time, I’ve written about more than forty women whose stories have something valuable to tell us, which you can read here. These pieces point to the longer stories of each. Women continue to present an enigma which baffles everyone, including themselves!
In the blog I portray wonderful mothers and domestic partners such as Aline Renoir, Sally Hemings, and Kristen Lavransdatter; artists and seekers such as Nedra Berland and Tina Modotti; adventurers and poets such as Dalva Northridge and Elizabeth Bishop. Some are real people and others are characters in fiction. What are the patterns of growth for women? What does a grownup woman look like? What are the values women share? Why are women so interesting?!
Every one of us is making culture, from the earliest talk between mothers and their babies to the dignity with which we present ourselves to younger people as we grow older. Some of it gets captured in media. Some doesn’t. But how we tell our stories is a matter of choice. As Frederick Turner says, “It is story that opens up the world, that truly represents the world as branchy, free and full of surprises.”