Some years ago, I went to a see the late Daniel Quinn at a book signing for one of his forgettable post-Ishmael-trilogy novels. The large auditorium was packed. During the Q&A, a fan asked what big new ideas we hungry readers might encounter in his latest offering. Quinn replied that he’d pretty much said what he had to say in Ishmael, The Story of B, and My Ishmael.
At the time, this reply felt like a cop-out. It made me angry. Despite the publication and wide dissemination of Ishmael and its sequels, nothing had changed. The world was still spiraling into chaos, so clearly there was more that needed to be said.
Now, years later, my stance has changed. One of the key lessons we industrial consumers need to learn is the concept of enough. This applies to ideas as much as anything else. And I see now that the flood of new, new, new in all things, even ideas, imposes the tyranny of time on that which should be timeless.
Quinn’s words demand generations for proper digestion. Yet, almost none of the youth I know have heard of Quinn or his books. And in those books, there is enough to change the world for the better. He didn’t need to say anything more.
After thinking all summer and fall about what comes next for this blog, I’ve reached the same place. With the complete posting of Beyond the Longest Childhood, I feel I’ve said what I need to say here. In other words, I believe this blog, as it is, could, like Quinn’s trilogy, help change the world for the better.
And so, with this entry, I conclude this blog. I know this is not how blogs are supposed to work. People visit to see what’s new. Well, newness and oldness are relative. A new star might be hundreds of millions of years old. And an old quark might be fraction of a nanosecond in age.
Regardless, newness for its own sake is a symptom of progress-poisoning. And the time is long overdue to draw that toxin from the soft tissues of our spirit. Until we do, wild integrity will remain out of reach.
Besides, a certain kind of newness cannot be avoided. It’s the spice of simply living. For example, even though I’ve read Peter Matthiessen’s The Snow Leopard ten times, each reading has yielded new surprises, fresh insights, deeper understandings. Thanks to the changes I’ve undergone and the time to reflect I’ve enjoyed throughout the interval between readings, each one has been like opening the cover of a different book. But thanks to the continuity of memory, the story is also familiar and known, as it must be for a base-line to exist. And without that base-line, the new surprises, fresh insights, and deeper understandings are not possible.
Might each visitation to this blog be the same, fresh and familiar?
Though I don’t plan to add any new posts, I will respond to any comments. This is, in fact, how I would love for the blog to live on, in a mature state. In how you respond to it.
Thanks for your attention and interest.