Books in General

The Timothy Hunt Witch Hunt

2 September 2015

From Commentary:

In 1983, the British biochemist Timothy Hunt discovered cyclins, a family of proteins that help regulate the life of cells. Eighteen years later, in 2001, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. Between June 8 and June 10 of this year, the 72-year-old Hunt went from being a universally respected and even beloved figure at the top of the scientific establishment to an instant pariah, condemned everywhere for antiquated opinions about women’s role in science that he does not, in fact, hold.

In only 48 hours, he found himself compelled to resign his positions at University College London and at the august Royal Society (where Isaac Newton and Robert Hooke once fought petty battles) after being told that failure to do so would lead to his outright firing.

The Timothy Hunt affair represents more than the gratuitous eye-blink ruination of a great man’s reputation and career. It demonstrates the danger of the extraordinary, almost worshipful deference that academia, government institutions, and above all the mainstream media now accord to social media. It is yet more evidence of the way moral panic and (virtual) mob rule can be accelerated and intensified by the minimalism of Twitter, with its 140-character posts and its apparently inherent tendency to encourage snap judgments, prejudice, and cruelty.

Fortunately, the story did not end on June 10. In the weeks following the initial assault, some of Hunt’s most ardent persecutors have been exposed as liars or blinkered ideologues, abetted by cynical hacks and academic rivals on a quest to bring him down or use him as grist to a political mill. Hunt’s partial rehabilitation has largely come about thanks to the dogged investigations of Louise Mensch, the British novelist and former conservative member of parliament who lives in New York City and is herself a powerful presence on Twitter. Mensch was alarmed by what she calls ‘the ugly combination of bullying and sanctimony” in the reaction to remarks made by “an evidently sweet and kind” older man.

She did some checking on Twitter and soon found that the two main witnesses for the prosecution contradicted each other. Then she began a more thorough investigation of Hunt’s offending comments and the lack of due process involved in his punishment by various academic and media institutions. The results of her exhaustive research, published on her blog,, encouraged an existing groundswell of support for Hunt from scientists around the world but most important from Hunt’s own female colleagues and former students.

As a result, the false picture of Hunt as a misogynist opposed to the equal participation of women in science has mostly been dispelled.

. . . .

On June 8, Hunt was in Seoul to give the opening lecture at the World Conference of Science Journalists. He was also invited to give an informal toast at a luncheon sponsored by the Korea Federation of Women’s Science and Technology Associations. It was this toast—or rather the way it was reported and reacted to—that led to his disgrace.
Speaking for fewer than five minutes, Hunt praised female scientists with whom he has worked, and then he said this:

It’s strange that a chauvinist monster like me has been asked to speak to women scientists. Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab: You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticize them, they cry. Perhaps we should make separate labs for boys and girls.

It is not clear whether Hunt had already mentioned that he and his wife met and fell in love when they were working in his lab, or whether he assumed that everyone in the room was aware of this fact and therefore the context of the remark. Hunt continued: “Now seriously, I’m impressed by the economic development of Korea. And women scientists played, without doubt, an important role in it. Science needs women, and you should do science despite the obstacles and despite monsters like me!”

A few hours after the lunch, a British science journalist named Connie St. Louis sent out a tweet to her followers that read:

Nobel scientist Tim Hunt FRS says at Korean women lunch “I’m a chauvinist and keep ‘girls’ single lab.

Beneath the tweet was a photograph of Hunt and more text by St. Louis: “lunch today sponsored by powerful role model Korean female scientists and engineers. Utterly ruined by sexist speaker Tim Hunt FRS.” (The FRS stands for “Fellow of the Royal Society.”) She went on to give an account of the “trouble with girls” speech that left out his “now seriously” verbal transition and praise of women in science and implied that Hunt was seriously advocating sex-segregated labs.

Shared more than 600 times, the St. Louis tweet ignited a combined Internet, social-media, and then print-media firestorm with astonishing speed. Her observations were repeated in news bulletins across the world. But as has happened before when such Twitter posses gather, Hunt himself became aware of it only when the BBC called him as he was about to board a plane to London.

While he was on the flight, the dean of life sciences at University College, London, telephoned his wife—herself a full professor at the school—to say that if Hunt did not immediately resign, he would be fired. No one at University College had even tried to get his side of the story or any independent confirmation of the incident described by Connie St. Louis. On the contrary, two of Hunt’s colleagues had started lobbying against him as soon as they saw the tweets. One of them, Dorothy Bishop, sent this message to the Dean on June 9: “Could we ask that he not be on any appointments or promotions committee given his views.” Another, David Colquhoun, started a Twitter hashtag called #Huntgate and called for Hunt to be expelled from the Royal Society as well as University College. And in short order Hunt was indeed made to resign from the Royal Society’s awards committee and the European Research Commission.

Although St. Louis was the primary author of Hunt’s destruction, she had a pair of allies with whom she apparently plotted his takedown while in Seoul.2 They were her friends Deborah Blum and Ivan Oransky. Blum, a professor of journalism at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and occasional New York Times columnist, took to Twitter right away to back up her old friend, insisting that Hunt never praised women in science during his toast, that he was not joking when calling for segregated labs, and that his remarks had caused great offense to his hosts.

The first website stories about Hunt’s alleged faux pas appeared on June 9. All of them were based on St. Louis’s tweets; none included a response from Hunt himself or comments from the organizers of the event.

. . . .

Buzzfeed ran a story the same day entitled “Nobel prizewinner makes shockingly sexist remarks at journalist meeting.” The writer, Cat Ferguson, reported that Hunt had said that “labs should be segregated by sex.”

Both Ferguson and Zadrozny added a new element to the case against Hunt, claiming that he had also condescendingly thanked women scientists for “making the lunch.” St. Louis later repeated this additional charge in an interview with the BBC. But it was eventually revealed, thanks to the efforts of Louise Mensch, that Hunt never said anything of the kind. In fact the allegedly offensive expression of gratitude had been delivered by a leading Korean—female—politician who stood up before Hunt.

Like most of the science journalists who covered Hunt’s solecism, Zadrozny and Ferguson were content to rely on a handful of tweets as the only evidence in an obviously controversial story. Sadly, the Hunt affair provides ample ammunition for those who believe Internet reporters are a tribe of third-raters with little or no ethical standards or training in Journalism 101.

But there’s another explanation for the fact that reporters such as Zadrozny and Ferguson felt no obligation to verify the facts of the case or do any old-fashioned reporting. In their cases, the temptation to cut journalistic corners may have been overwhelming. That’s because for anyone with an ax to grind about gender equality or sexism in science, this was one of those stories that the tabloids used to label (jestingly for the most part) “too good to check.”

Link to the rest at Commentary and thanks to Antares for the tip.

Everything is political. I will never be a politician or even think political. Me just deal with life and nature. That is the greatest thing to me.

Bob Marley

Cliché Finder

1 September 2015

From Cliché Finder:

Have you been searching for just the right cliché to use? Are you searching for a cliché using the word “cat” or “day” but haven’t been able to come up with one? Just enter any words in the form below, and this search engine will return any clichés which use that phrase…

. . . .

Over 3,300 clichés indexed!

Link to the rest at Cliché Finder

Here are some random clichés

The writing’s on the wall
Don’t bother trying to teach a pig to sing; you only waste your time and annoy the pig.
you gotta have heart
in a pickle
sword of Damocles

5 Favorite Free Fonts for Interior Book Design

31 August 2015

From book designer Joel Friedlander:

As I said a number of years ago, as publishers “we want our books to be as easy to read as possible while communicating the author’s intent. Style and fashion also play their part in many book designs, particularly in popular niches. The accumulated expectations of 500 years of book readers also come into play. Books are pretty conventional objects, after all.

“Some fonts really lend themselves to book design while others, which look good in a brochure or on a business card or billboard, make odd, unreadable books. Any idiosyncrasy in the type design will be magnified by the repetition of typesetting 75,000 or 100,000 words in thousands of lines on hundreds of pages.

“So the choice of your basic typeface looms large when you sit down to design your book.”

In that article I selected five typefaces that are favorites of mine, and that post has been one of the most popular here ever since.

Now, having spent the last couple of years designing with free fonts to create the book templates at, I’ve developed a whole new list. This time, all the fonts are free and licensed for you to use freely, too.

Link to the rest at The Book Designer and thanks to Deb for the tip.

30 Reasons Why I Write

31 August 2015

From Medium:

1. If I don’t create, I won’t affect the world around me.

2. Writing is the minimum viable product of my life.

3. There’s no despair that can’t be held at bay with words.

4. When people ask what I do, I have something to point to.

5. Having a career and paying bills is treading water for me – writing gives me a purpose.

. . . .

17. Right now, we are drafting the future of digital publishing – I wouldn’t trade my place in that for anything.

18. Writing is its own form of innovation.

19. Writing is a skill that can be applied to and is needed by every industry, technology and platform.

20. Being able to write is one of the greatest accomplishments of humanity.

Link to the rest at Medium and thanks to Joshua for the tip.

The Public Collection: Indianapolis’s own ‘Big Free Libraries’

28 August 2015

From Chris Meadows via TeleRead:

I don’t often run across TeleRead stories in person, though it does happen from time to time. Oddly enough, the story I came across lately actually happened in the very same spot as that one, Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis. Or at least part of it did. I stumbled onto a brilliant new art installation program in downtown Indianapolis called The Public Collection, designed to make books freely available to the general pubic, modeled after the “Little Free Library” project but on a much larger scale.

It all started Wednesday morning, when I visited the YMCA on Market Street that incorporates a bicycle shop, to check on the status of repairs to my e-bike. As I came out, I noticed that the weekly Farmer’s Market was in full swing—but I noticed something else, too: a big green box with a red crank on it. Looking closer, I discovered it was an art installation that was full of books, on a Ferris-wheel-like rotating shelf system. You turned the crank, and as long as the door was closed, a stepper motor would rotate the assembly so the next shelf came into view. Then you could open the shelf door and grab a book. It was a clever idea, and there was a sign next to it declaring it to be called “Harvesting Knowledge,” part of “The Public Collection.”

A little later that day, I was having lunch at Scotty’s Brewhouse, a few blocks away, and I noticed that some kind of art installation they were installing outside that—something that looked like wicker, only made out of metal—also had shelves with books in it! What was going on here?

The sign next to “Harvesting Knowledge” had mentioned it was being supported by the local public library, so I called their public relations department to find out. I learned that The Public Collection was a two-year program intended to support literacy and art appreciation in the Indianapolis Community through making books freely available to the public at eight art installations all around the downtown area. I also learned they were having a grand opening ceremony the next day on Monument Circle, so I made plans to attend.

. . . .

We talk a lot about the “digital divide” here on TeleRead, but they reminded me that there’s an analog divide, too. In thriving middle-class communities, there are an average of 13 books available per person—but in less well-off communities, there are an average of one age-appropriate book available for every three hundred people. And as The Public Collection’s blog points out, Indiana has an 8% illiteracy rate—nearly one in ten people can’t read. The Public Collection intends to try to remedy that a little.

. . . .

Project creator Rachel Simon and Mindy Taylor Ross of Art Strategies LLC decided to do something about this. They launched The Public Collection, reaching out to local artists to come up with ideas for art installations in the public space that could house books that would be free to everyone. The Indianapolis/Marion County Public Library would curate the collection of books for them.

Each installation was a different art project, and each one was located in a different public space. Some of them were open commons areas, such as the ones I’d seen so far that day. One was in a hospital, and another was in Horizon House, a local homeless shelter. One of the architects mentioned a reception was being held there later that day, so after the event at Monument Circle was over, I headed over that way.

Link to the rest at TeleRead


Does Neuroticism Breed Creativity?

28 August 2015

From Forbes blogs:

Some of the great thinkers of the past and present – Isaac Newton, Michelangelo, Woody Allen – have also been the most neurotic. One can’t help but wonder whether the creativity occurs in spite of their neurotic natures or because of it. There’s evidence to suggest that people who score higher on measures of neuroticism also score higher in creativity. And if there is a causal relationship, the logic behind it might go like this: People who are more neurotic are prone to overthinking, and perhaps even manufacturing threats that aren’t really there – and this overactive imagination might, under the right circumstances, give way to creative, problem-solving breakthroughs rather than nervous breakdowns.

. . . .

“It occurred to me that if you happen to have a preponderance of negatively hued self-generated thoughts,” says Adam Perkins of King’s College London, “due to high levels of spontaneous activity in the parts of the medial prefrontal cortex that govern conscious perception of threat and you also have a tendency to switch to panic sooner than average people, due to possessing especially high reactivity in the basolateral nuclei of the amygdale, then that means you can experience intense negative emotions even when there’s no threat present. This could mean that for specific neural reasons, high scorers on neuroticism have a highly active imagination, which acts as a built-in threat generator.”

In plain English, this means that highly “thinky” people tend to spontaneously generate a lot of worry thoughts, because of activity in the very frontal areas of the brain, even when there isn’t necessarily a reason to be worried. These people (and you probably know whether you are one) also switch on areas related to panic sooner than regular folk. And this is all mediated by the areas that govern fear and emotion, the amygdala. But the capacity to conjure up threats that don’t necessarily exist could also help you conjure up other types of ideas, ones that are insightful and valuable to problem-solving — i.e., creativity.

Link to the rest at Forbes blogs

Changing Tastes

28 August 2015

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:

The June, 2015, issue of Vanity Fair had a nice little puff piece on the upcoming Star Wars film (the June issue came out in May), The Force Awakens. Interviews with J.J. Abrams, discussions with Kathleen Kennedy, a few tidbits about the storyline and George Lucas’s (possible) reaction to it all.

Star Wars is and was a cultural phenomenon, and I would expect Vanity Fair to cover the new film in one way or another, just like it’s covered the Oscars and Downton Abbey and other things that the society is currently discussing.

But I didn’t expect the article’s focus. It was worried that somehow the Abrams film wouldn’t upset “persnickity” fans. Okay, I assumed, as I started reading, that this was an anti-fan article. Yeah, that stuff happens, especially in some of the more elitist magazines like Vanity Fair.

However, the deeper I got into the article, the more I realized that the tone wasn’t about “persnickity” fans. The author of the article, Bruce Handy, also seemed concerned that the film would upset people who loved the original three movies.

He ended with this paragraph:

…“wonderful preposterousness” isn’t a bad descriptor of the Star Wars ethos at its best. Reviewing another scene, with spaceships blasting away at each other with phasers or whatever, Abrams could briefly be heard making ray-gun noises, the way a kid lying on his bedroom floor and drawing his own spaceships might. That galaxy far, far away appeared to be in good hands.

The fact that a magazine like this one worried that the “galaxy far, far away” was in good hands damn near floored me. I have been knee-deep in the women in sf project, and that has taken me back to the big sf fights of my early career. One of those fights was against space opera and the Star Wars/Star Trek fans “taking over” sf. In fact, as recently as ten years ago, David Brin edited an entire book on that very issue, Star Wars on Trial. I had an essay in that book, defending the media properties, an essay that Asimov’s also reprinted.

The idea that elites and critics would worry about the upcoming Star Wars movie living up to the original…well, it makes my brain hurt.

Those fights back in the day were pretty ugly. The woman responsible for the tone of The Empire Strikes Back, screenwriter and sf writer, Leigh Brackett, had trouble being taken seriously be the sf establishment of the 1970s, partly because her style of sf was considered passé—even though she influenced almost everyone writing and editing sf back then.

. . . .

Leigh Brackett was and is a marvelous writer, and if you read her science fiction, you’ll understand why Lucas asked her to contribute to the original Star Wars trilogy. Essentially, Lucas’s entire universe wouldn’t exist without Leigh Brackett.

I had a few moments of panic because of Hamilton’s comments. I read them just before NASA’s New Horizons space probe changed everything we “knew” about Pluto. Fortunately, I never wrote about Pluto. But I wonder sometimes what we “know” about something, that I’ve written about as hard sf or even as contemporary fiction that will be debunked in the future.

I cringe at times, because I came of age when the arguments were loud, particularly in sf, about what was and wasn’t appropriate for the genre. Whether I agreed or not, those arguments went in.

It took me forever to write space opera, and it took some creative traditional editors to buy it. Nowadays, we can publish what we want, indie if traditional publishing doesn’t want what we’ve done, and public opinion shouldn’t make a difference.

But it does.

Writers still put themselves in boxes. You can see it in the comments section of my recent rebranding post, where some of the people commenting followed a link from other sites. A handful of the people following links didn’t read the post at all. They just looked at the rebranded covers, and schooled me in what paranormal romance readers expected.

. . . .

[M]y Grayson novels—which were marketed as paranormal romance ten years ago—don’t fit much of the genre expectations at the moment.

That will change again in a few years. Genre expectations always do. That’s what Hamilton was fighting in his defense of Leigh Brackett. That’s what we looked at with the redesigned covers. That’s why people who were born after the original Star Wars trilogy have no real idea that, among the sf genre purists, those movies were reviled.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the moment, whatever that moment might be. Since I’m digging into thirty- and fifty- and seventy-year-old fiction right now, I’m finding a lot of things that aren’t acceptable to modern audiences. From smoking cigarettes on spaceships to stories causally using racist terms to terms that no longer mean what they meant sixty years ago, I occasionally get inundated with then-versus-now.

. . . .

I think Lee always wanted Watchman to be in print. It’s a vindication, of sorts, almost sixty years later, of what must have been a terrible time for her. The book is finally in print, for good or for ill.

When she wrote that book, everyone would have understood the subtext. Now, she’s “ruined” Atticus Finch by portraying him as a bigot.

Here, I think Le Guin is spot-on. She writes,

So I’m glad, now, that Watchman was published. It hasn’t done any harm to the old woman [Lee], and I hope it’s given her pleasure. And it redeems the young woman who wrote this book, who wanted to tell some truths about the Southern society that lies to itself so much.

Times change. Opinions change. What is “true” changes as well.

And books still follow trends—or lead trends.

I’m not sure how Watchman would have been received had it been published in 1958 or 1959. It might’ve simply disappeared, and Harper Lee might’ve been a midlist author of good quality books for twenty or thirty years.

Instead, she wrote a second novel at the urging of an editor who liked the nostagic parts ofWatchman better than its truths. Mockingbird echoed the national mood of 1960, as the white establishment learned that injustice existed, injustice that people of color had lived with for generations. Mockingbird is an important book, not just for the excellent story that it tells, but because it hit the zeitgeist and helped with the national conversation of its time.

Some books do that. So do some movies.

Vanity Fair covered the new Star Wars movie because Star Wars, along with Jaws, changed the way that movies were made, and what was “acceptable” in film. We wouldn’t have any of the Marvel films or any of the summer blockbusters without Star Wars. But going to the movies would have been a lot less enjoyable.

. . . .

We can write what we want.

The trade-off is that hitting the cultural zeitgeist is much harder. The world has gotten bigger. The days when a single book rests on the coffeetable of everyone who reads are long gone.

What we gain in freedom, we lose in attention.

And many writers do their best to build boxes around themselves, as you can see from those comments a few weeks ago. Even indie writers believe that there are Rules To Be Followed, and Tastemakers To Be Placated.

Weirdly enough, in this world where we can upload the book today we finished writing yesterday, we have to wait to get attention for it. Yes, we might get our usual readers to pick up a copy, but for the book to have “legs,” for it to make an impact, that takes time.

And sometimes that time might be years, not weeks. The book we published today might be part of a cultural trend ten years from now. It’s up to us to remain informed, to see the trends building, to change covers or point out that this book—which first saw print a decade ago—actually has a lot to say about what’s going on right now.

It’s a whole different way of thinking about things, a way we’re not yet used to.

Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Here’s a link to Kris Rusch’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Why Bon Jovi Bolted After 32 Years on Mercury Records — ‘Or Whatever They’re Called This Week’

27 August 2015

From Billboard:

Back in 1977, the Sex Pistols dedicated their raucous kiss-off song “EMI” to the record ­company that dropped them. Graham Parker skewered his former label in 1979’s “Mercury Poisoning.” Now Bon Jovi joins the ranks of the wronged with Burning Bridges, the band’s 13th and final studio album for Mercury Records.

“It’s the end of an era,” singer Jon Bon Jovi, 53, tells Billboard. “I’ve stayed at that label my entire life — 32 years. I am the longest tenured artist on Mercury, or whatever they are called this week. But my deal was up, and that’s that.”

Bon Jovi alludes to tension with the Universal Music Group ­subsidiary, which effectively ­operates under the Island banner, in the title track to the band’s self-­proclaimed “fan album,” one he readily admits is meant to fulfill the group’s contractual commitment.

“After 30 years of loyalty, they let you dig the grave,” he sings on “Burning Bridges.” “Now maybe you can learn to … strum along/Well I’ll give you half the ­publishing/You’re why I wrote this song.” Says Bon Jovi: “It hits the nail on the head.”

. . . .

According to a source, the impasse involved adjusted terms to the band’s recording contract. “The labels want everything now, no matter who you are,” says an insider. “Jon doesn’t need to give up anything to any label ever again. It’s a dying paradigm.”

Link to the rest at Billboard and thanks to Eugene for the tip.

Eugene says, Call it the “Bon Jovi precedent” and “Joe Konrath could have predicted it.”

PG wonders if authors ever include burning bridges messages to their former publishers in their books the way musicians do with their former labels in their songs.


Screenwriters Who Want Control Should Be Writing Novels

24 August 2015

From Wired:

Gary Whitta has worked in Hollywood for 15 years, and if the experience has taught him anything, it’s that screenwriters don’t have much control over the final product.

“Oftentimes when you work on a movie, it gets all bent and pushed and pulled out of shape by the various people on the film who are more powerful than you,” Whitta says in Episode 164 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “Because everyone on a film is more powerful than the writer.”

Fresh ideas face an uphill battle in Hollywood. At first Warner Bros. was enamored with the edginess of Whitta’s script for The Book of Eli, a post-apocalyptic thriller with religious overtones. But when push came to shove, the studio balked.

. . . .

“When the time comes, somewhat later, to actually write a check for $80 million to make the film, they look at the script again and go, ‘This is kind of edgy and dangerous and controversial, and we’re not quite sure about this,’” says Whitta.

. . . .

“There’s a good chance that I could write that movie, spend six months putting all my blood, sweat, and tears into it, and the studios would just say no,” he says. “So you’ve spent a lot of time writing this story that maybe 20 or 30 people would ever see, and for a writer that’s very disheartening.”

Instead he decided to write the story as a novel, Abomination, which he published through the crowdfunding platform Inkshares. The novel format allows him to explore any idea he wants, and also means that no one can tell him no—you can always self-publish. Writing a novel also lets him deviate from the three-act structure typical of Hollywood movies.

“The way that I wanted to tell the story didn’t necessarily conform to what at times are the very rigid expectations for how a movie story is structured,” he says. “I knew that with a novel I would have the ability to tell the story with more flexibility, and not have to worry about a lot of the perceived, prevailing wisdom about how a story is supposed to work.”

Link to the rest at Wired and thanks to Meryl for the tip.

In Praise of Missing Out: The Paradoxical Value of Our Unlived Lives

23 August 2015

From Brain Pickings:

“In the gap between who we wish one day to be and who we are at present, must come pain, anxiety, envy and humiliation,” Alain de Botton wrote in his meditation on Nietzsche and why a fulfilling life requires difficulty. “We are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not,” Joan Didion wrote in contemplating the value of keeping a notebook. But we are just as well advised, it turns out, to keep on nodding terms with the people we could’ve been, the people we never were, the people who perished in the abyss between our ideal selves and our real selves. So argues psychoanalyst Adam Phillips in Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life — a fascinating read, acutely relevant to our culture so plagued by the fear of missing out that we’ve shorthanded it to “FOMO.”

. . . .

In a sentiment that calls to mind Parker Palmer’s magnificent commencement address on the wholehearted life — “If the unexamined life is not worth living,” he counseled graduates, “it’s equally true that the unlived life is not worth examining.”— Phillips writes:

The unexamined life is surely worth living, but is the unlived life worth examining? It seems a strange question until one realizes how much of our so-called mental life is about the lives we are not living, the lives we are missing out on, the lives we could be leading but for some reason are not. What we fantasize about, what we long for, are the experiences, the things and the people that are absent. It is the absence of what we need that makes us think, that makes us cross and sad. We have to be aware of what is missing in our lives — even if this often obscures both what we already have and what is actually available — because we can survive only if our appetites more or less work for us. Indeed, we have to survive our appetites by making people cooperate with our wanting. We pressurize the world to be there for our benefit. And yet we quickly notice as children — it is, perhaps, the first thing we do notice — that our needs, like our wishes, are always potentially unmet. Because we are always shadowed by the possibility of not getting what we want, we learn, at best, to ironize our wishes — that is, to call our wants wishes: a wish is only a wish until, as we say, it comes true — and, at worst, to hate our needs. But we also learn to live somewhere between the lives we have and the lives we would like.


We refer to them as our unlived lives because somewhere we believe that they were open to us; but for some reason — and we might spend a great deal of our lived lives trying to find and give the reason — they were not possible. And what was not possible all too easily becomes the story of our lives. Indeed, our lived lives might become a protracted mourning for, or an endless tantrum about, the lives we were unable to live. But the exemptions we suffer, whether forced or chosen, make us who we are.

Link to the rest at Brain Pickings

In PG’s experience, more than a few authors write about their unlived lives.

Next Page »