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Jack Gilbert on Handling Injustice

“To make injustice the only measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.”

Jack Gilbert


Found in the epic Magic Lessons podcast, episode #201. From a poem called A Brief for the Defense. Here’s that poem:

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafés and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

Alan Watts on Vices and Naughtiness

“I have no wish to defend my ‘vices’ with propaganda, making out that they are in fact virtues which others should follow. I am only saying that I distrust people who show no sign of naughtiness or self-indulgence.”

Alan Watts

Rumi on What You Think You Want

I know that God will give me my daily bread…

When I run after what I think I want,
My days are a furnace of distress and anxiety;
If I sit in my own place of patience,
What I need flows to me,
And without any pain.

From this I understand that
What I want also wants me,
Is looking for me
And attracting me;
When it cannot attract me
Any more to go to it,
It has to come to me.

There is a great secret
In this for anyone
Who can grasp it.

Cornell West on How to do Good in America

“… and of course America is a romantic project. It’s paradiso, city on the hill and all this other mess and lies and so on. No, no, America is a very fragile democratic experiment predicated on the dispossession of the lands of indigenous peoples, the enslavement of African peoples and the subjugation of women and marginalization of gays and lesbians and it has great potential but this notion that somehow, you know, we had it all, or ever will have it all, has got to go — you have got to push it to the side. And once you push all that to the side then it tends to evacuate the language of disappointment and the language of failure and you say, ‘ok well how much have we done? how have we been able to do it? can we do more?’ well in certain situations you can’t do more; it is like trying to break dance at 75, you can’t do it anymore you were a master at 16, it’s over. You cannot make love at 80 the way you did at 20, so what? Time is real.”

Cornell West

It is absolutely possible…

I don’t know if this happens to you, but when I get a good email, something from someone who my work has helped, I don’t ever really let it feel… i don’t know… good.

I see how much better it could have been. I say to myself, “well it’s not as good as that thing over there, or that thing that she/he made. THAT is good.”

Today I got an email and I didn’t deflect like that. It just felt… good.

It was probably because it’s from David. Fucking David.

It’s also probably because of the last image he used.

So I’m putting it here for posterity sake. Send me a link to this some time to remind me, would you?

Here’s the email in full:


An Obituary we all Need to Read

“As much as people knew hanging out with him would end in a night in jail or a killer screwdriver hangover, he was the type of man that people would drive 16 hours at the drop of a dime to come see. He lived 1000 years in the 67 calendar years we had with him because he attacked life; he grabbed it by the lapels, kissed it, and swung it back onto the dance floor.”

Chris Connors Obit.


Here’s the rest of the obituary in case it ever gets lost from the internet:

Irishman Dies from Stubbornness, Whiskey

Chris Connors died, at age 67, after trying to box his bikini-clad hospice nurse just moments earlier. Ladies man, game slayer, and outlaw Connors told his last inappropriate joke on Friday, December 9, 2016, that which cannot be printed here. Anyone else fighting ALS and stage 4 pancreatic cancer would have gone quietly into the night, but Connors was stark naked drinking Veuve in a house full of friends and family as Al Green played from the speakers. The way he died is just like he lived: he wrote his own rules, he fought authority and he paved his own way. And if you said he couldn’t do it, he would make sure he could.

Most people thought he was crazy for swimming in the ocean in January; for being a skinny Irish Golden Gloves boxer from Quincy, Massachusetts; for dressing up as a priest and then proceeding to get into a fight at a Jewish deli. Many gawked at his start of a career on Wall Street without a financial background – but instead with an intelligent, impish smile, love for the spoken word, irreverent sense of humor, and stunning blue eyes that could make anyone fall in love with him.

As much as people knew hanging out with him would end in a night in jail or a killer screwdriver hangover, he was the type of man that people would drive 16 hours at the drop of a dime to come see. He lived 1000 years in the 67 calendar years we had with him because he attacked life; he grabbed it by the lapels, kissed it, and swung it back onto the dance floor. At the age of 26 he planned to circumnavigate the world – instead, he ended up spending 40 hours on a life raft off the coast of Panama. In 1974, he founded the Quincy Rugby Club. In his thirties, he sustained a knife wound after saving a woman from being mugged in New York City. He didn’t slow down: at age 64, he climbed to the base camp of Mount Everest. Throughout his life, he was an accomplished hunter and birth control device tester (with some failures, notably Caitlin Connors, 33; Chris Connors, 11; and Liam Connors, 8).

He was a rare combination of someone who had a love of life and a firm understanding of what was important – the simplicity of living a life with those you love. Although he threw some of the most memorable parties during the greater half of a century, he would trade it all for a night in front of the fire with his family in Maine. His acute awareness of the importance of a life lived with the ones you love over any material possession was only handicapped by his territorial attachment to the remote control of his Sonos music.

Chris enjoyed cross dressing, a well-made fire, and mashed potatoes with lots of butter. His regrets were few, but include eating a rotisserie hot dog from an unmemorable convenience store in the summer of 1986.

Of all the people he touched, both willing and unwilling, his most proud achievement in life was marrying his wife Emily Ayer Connors who supported him in all his glory during his heyday, and lovingly supported him physically during their last days together.

Absolut vodka and Simply Orange companies are devastated by the loss of Connors. A “Celebration of Life” will be held during Happy Hour (4 p.m.) at York Harbor Inn on Monday, December 19.

In lieu of flowers, please pay open bar tab or donate to Connors’ water safety fund at www.thechrisconnorsfund.com.

Viktor Frankl on Success

“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it.”

Viktor Frankl

The ‘Make Friends With Fear’ Game

“Give it a try, make friends with fear. Why? Because your life is a fucking nightmare and what do you have to lose and it’s worth it if there’s even a chance you’ll be happier with yourself. Right?”

Chase Reeves


This quote is from an article I wrote over on Medium about how to, you know, make a good life, not, like, be all {waves hands} fucked up all the time and moody or whatever. Give it a read.

Bean on how Power Works

“…these fools always look up for power. People above you, they never want to share power with you. Why you look to them? They give you nothing. People below you, you give them hope, you give them respect, they give you power, cause they don’t think they have any, so they don’t mind giving it up.”

Bean, Ender’s Shadow, Orson Scott Card

Alan Watts on How to Become Wise

What you took to be a thinker of the thoughts was just one of the thoughts. What you took to be the experiencer of the experience was just a part of the experience.”

Alan Watts


the whole quote:

“The whole approach is not to convert you, not to make you over, not to improve you, but for you to discover that if you really knew the way you are things would be sane. But you see, you can’t do that. You can’t make that discovery because you’re in your own way so long as you think ‘I am I,’ so long as that hallucination blocks it. The hallucination disappears only in the realization of it’s own futility, when at last you see you can’t do it. […] You know a fool who persists in his folly becomes wise. So you’ve got to speed up the folly. […] What you took to be a thinker of the thoughts was just one of the thoughts. What you took to be the experiencer of the experience was just a part of the experience.”

“You already have the precious mixture that will make you well. Use it.”

Rumi