A number of years ago, ten or more, possibly fifteen, I would imagine, I stumbled across a repeat (that’s “rerun”, for my American friends… if I have any left after my Only in America? post :-)) of an Horizon interview with the the now deceased Richard Feynman — scientist, storyteller, musician and flyer of kites. I was immediately captivated by his sense of wonder and his ability to share it with me. I especially liked his approach to science, his happiness in not-knowing and… well, here’s a little comment from Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman! that highlights what I mean:
I remembered the time I was in my fraternity house at MIT when the idea came into my head completely out of the blue that my grandmother was dead. Right after that there was a telephone call, just like that. It was for Pete Bernays — my grandmother wasn’t dead. So I remembered that, in case somebody told me a story that ended the other way. I figured that such things can sometimes happen by luck — after all, my grandmother was very old — although people might think they happened by some sort of supernatural phenomenon.
I like this. I like the quirky little twist in the story, and I like the quite simple message behind it.
If this has whetted your appetite for more Feynman, try part one of the abovementioned Horizon interview which follows. The story about the flower is a gem.
My little corner of Paradise seemed anything but paradisiacal when I awoke from my slumber this dark November morn. In fact, it was pretty bloody bleak — one of those half-arsed English winter days of misty hills and intermittent drizzle, actual sunlight (or daylight, for that matter) a seemingly long-forgotten memory. I sat staring at my chapter outlines, which have been progressing nicely, looked out of the window, shivered, drank tea, stared at my outlines a while longer — and then gave up, had some lunch and went to Whitby for the afternoon.
Even bleaker, but somehow right. Slate grey skies and seas, the sense of a place abandoned (up on the West Cliff, at least — down in the harbour it was much more lively.) A welcome break.
A dark, rather poor quality video of the piers from the West Cliff follows. It gives a fair impression of what the day was like.
Sagan was a true communicator — of ideas, but also of his passion for life and knowledge. Wonderful stuff.
For all those who haven’t already seen it… and those who have…
Sitting here writing a few long overdue emails, a piece of information came on the radio (gotta love Steve Wright) that got my attention. It appealed to my sense of the ridiculous.
Apparently, the latest holiday trend Stateside is the… wait for it… “Procreation Vacation”! Vacations molded specifically for… well, it’s self-evident, really, isn’t it?
Our dear American cousins always have to make everything sound so off-putting, don’t they? I mean, how romantic! “Honey, let’s go on vacation and procreate our brains out!”
Give me a dirty weekend in Scarborough any time.
Literary endeavour opens doorways — to the soul (however you wish to define it), the mind and the heart. The act of giving meaning and form to what might otherwise appear every day events prompts questions of a deeper nature that, whilst possibly unanswerable, encourage patterns of behaviour from which the writer can only benefit.
Write a story. Go on, do it now before the inspiration I may have provided ebbs away. Write it, a novel even, not to meet the extremely odd deadline of that whole annual NaNoWriMo craze but because you want to open those doorways. It’s hard work, but don’t make it a chore. Enjoy the potential!