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Saturday, July 04, 2015

Re-Inventing a Personal Touch

How long has it been since your actually wrote someone in long hand or for that matter received such a letter yourself?  I'm talking about a letter that traveled over some miles to be hand delivered to your address, not pushed through the Internet and popped out into your email inbox.  In other words, snail mail.

This week I read a Forbes article by Maggy Zhang titled From Robots and Emails To Handwritten Letters: Using Tech To Reverse Tech and was intrigued by an art project called Snail Mail My Email. As I have mentioned in one or more blog posts at some point in the past, I believe the demise if the written letter is in fact a negative consequence of modern technology.

To me, hand written letters are an art form. Hell, many youngsters are growing up without any handwriting skill at all. Our communications have progressed to less personal.  They have gone from fast written e-mail letters that arrive in an inbox with standardized fonts to the text message - again instantaneous transmission of 140 characters or less. I'm not saying these things have not had positive values, but they have certainly come as a price as they have all but bastardized written communication.

As I look at my  library of books of poetry poetics, biographies and other collected works on literature, I have a number of books that are archived letters from writers.  Right off the top of my head, I know that I have Letters Home - a compendium letters from Sylvia Plath, written mostly to her mother, Letters of Ted Hughes, The Letters of Allen Ginsberg, and Robert A. Heinlein: Grumbles From The Grave. In addition to these I've read volumes of letters from a number of other poets including Lowell and Sexton. It has always fascinated me the letter exchanges that  have occurred between poets of their time often on their craft but sometimes interesting snapshots of their lives as a whole. These books can provide a picture into the evolution of these poets and poetesses. We can begin to understand the path that has taken them to what they ultimately became. I feel like when I read one I am on an anthropological expedition.  I wonder what we as poets today are losing as a result of this decline interpersonal letter writing.

The Forbes article talks about two different off-shoots of societal divestment of personal writing. One is a company founded not long ago that offers the robotic ability to imitate a customers' signature so that handwritten notes can be generated at a fast speed. Bond is a for profit enterprise and  it's services would be more geared to mass customer correspondence.  The other off-shoot, the one I find most interesting is called Snail Mail My Email.  This was a projected started in 2011 by a gentleman in the advertising business who quit his job. He was tired of the massive amount of impersonal email that landed in his inbox daily. It started that he decided personally he would write more handwritten letters and then came his decision to help others do the same. Snail My Email  has become a volunteer organization of over 700 people who have collectively  written and sent over 23,500 letters around the world. In a nut shell, these people take emails, convert them to personally written notes and mail them to the intended recipient. Perfect strangers writing a letter for someone else to someone else.

I like this idea. But I'm pretty keen on letters.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Thought for the Week -

Art is the most passionate orgy within man's grasp. 
~ John Doone

Confession Tuesday - After all these years, it's still the car biting my ass.


Dear Reader:

It has been one week and one more wedding anniversary since my last confession.

It's actually been a lot of things.... another week of more rain than not, Another Poet Tarot Card Drawn - this one John Donne,  as well as a car repair completed and another one deeded.  Shall we get started...

Reader, I'm water logged. I've had it all the way up to the flippers that I have sprouted. I'm tired of the rain. I know I have complained about this for weeks - seems like months now. I confess I will say no more today about this, but you know what I'm thinking.

Yesterday was our 41st wedding anniversary. I confess that it both seems like a long time and not so long. I can't really explain how this can be, just trust me it can and it does. I confess that I feel very nostalgic for many things of our early marriage days. I confess that sometimes I wonder how we got where we are, but mostly I am amazed that given our very young  ages at marriage I confess  this is one of the best decisions I have made in life.

So this week I drew another Poet Tarot card from the deck. The result was the card for the poet John Donne. This Donne dude is an interesting character (but you could say that about so many poets). Father to 12 children penning erotic poems on one hand and later becoming an Anglican priest. He felt it important to follow one's inner convictions. How do I balance order and chaos in my life? Do I make rules about my creativity that box me in or do I allow room for expansion of rules. Do I give myself room to grow?

When we got married 41 years ago yesterday, I had just picked up my car from the shop the day before. I arrived with it at the church okay, however before the service was over it attempted to move the car in the Church lot and it would not start. We ended up leaving town with a loaner from the repair shop that afternoon.  I confess that the car problems revisited me yesterday - losing coolant (not a good thing) and the this after just putting new rear breaks on it. I can't win.

I confess that this wraps up my confession for this week. Until next week, stay safe and have a good life!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A few Quotes on Fathers



A father is always making his baby into a little woman. And when she is a woman he turns her back again. - Enid Bagnold




I pressed my father's hand and told him I would protect his grave with my life. My father smiled and passed away to the spirit land. - Chief Joseph




When one has not had a good father, one must create one. -Friedrich Nietzsche

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Confession Tuesday INFP Edition

Dear Reader:

I humbly come to you on Wednesday as opposed to Tuesday. But actually I believe it’s been two weeks since my last confession. Two more weeks of more rain than not. On NBA series that went down the tubes, some miscellaneous allergies, a new poetry book in the mail, another book finished and yet another started. A couple of new poem drafts, one of which I believe is close to being able to fly out into the world. With that out of the way, Let’s get started.

In 2005 I took one of the Myers & Briggs personality tests. (on a side note they always make me think of lawn mowers – you know, Briggs & Stratton engines, but I digress) The test 10 years ago confirmed basically the same results as one a couple years earlier.  My results pointed to being an ENFP.  That would be Extraversion, I(N)troversion, Feeling and Perceiving. This week I was curious and I too the test again. The results changed.

I confess that based on my most recent test I am no longer an extrovert but instead I am an introvert. How is this possible, you say? Well I don’t honestly have a conclusionary finding, but speculation. Incidentally the other three factors NFP remained the same from the first two tests. But here are some hunches:

·         When taking the test I would sometimes struggle with answers because there was often not a definitive answer. Example, with your lunch you always drink a Diet Coke. Answer Y/N.  Well I don’t always have a Diet Coke with lunch but I don’t always NOT have one. Fact is more often than not I have one. To answer Yes or No really would not be correct by yes would be more correct than no. So I choose yes.  Ten years ago I was still more involved in electoral politics that I have been presently. When in campaign mode I don’t really have a choice as to engaging with others or not.  So this has somewhat changed for me.  Even when I took this test the first time I was thinking to myself that I may well have a different personality under different circumstances. I believe this could account for such response.
·         In mentioning this to someone else who knows my writing history, she has pointed out that in particular, I have been writing over the past ten years. And in recent years even more than ever. Because of this, it was suggested that as I have become immersed in writing I have perhaps tended to turn more inward in my personality. I confess, this makes a lot of sense.
So you may be asking what is a INFP supposed to look like? A brief description I found looks like this:

  1.       Primary mode of living is focused internally. This is where you deal with things according to how you feel about them or how they fit with your personal value system. Secondary modeis external and here, I take things primarily via my intuition.
  2.        INFP types are more than any other types are focused on making the world a better place for people. Their primary goal is to find out their meaning in life. What is their purpose? How can they best serve humanity? They are idealists and perfectionists, who drive  themselves hard in their quest to achieve the goals they have identified.
  3.        They are highly intuitive about people. Rely heavily upon intuition and use their discoveries to constantly search for value in life. There are on a mission to find truth and meaning.  Every encounter, every piece of knowledge gained gets sifted through their value system.
  4.        They are generally thoughtful and considerate. Good listeners – can put people at ease, though sometimes reserved in expressing emotion, they are deeply caring.
  5.        They do not like conflict and try hard to avoid it. If they must face it, they will always approach it from the perspective of their feelings. In conflict, they place little importance on who is right or wrong but on how the conflict makes them feel. This can a times make them seem irrational in conflict situations. They can make good mediators and do well at problem solving for others.
  6.        They are flexible and laid back until one of their values is violated  They can become aggressive defenders and fight with passion for a cause.
  7.        As to the mundane details of life maintenance, they are typically unaware of such things. They might go long periods of time without noticing a stain on the carpet. but brush a speck off a file they are working on.
  8.       Don’t like dealing with hard facts and logic. Focus is on feelings and the Human Condition. Most will avoid impersonal analysis, though some have developed the ability to be quite logical.  Under stress it’s not uncommon for them to mis-use hard logic, especially when angry.
  9.       They generally have high standards and are professionals and tend to be hard on themselves. Often do not give themselves credit. They may have problems working on projects in groups because of their standards and therefore have control issues.  They need to learn to balance high ideals with requirements for daily living otherwise they can become paralyzed or confused about what to do.
  10.    .  They make talented writes. They may be awkward or uncomfortable at expressing themselves verbally but do well putting feelings on paper. They also frequently make good social service professionals like counselors and teachers.



I can see myself filling into much of this.

Are there anyone else out there who is an INFP that wants to share their thoughts about these characteristics?  Or For that matter are you another M & B type, what has the knowledge of your personality type meant for you? Has it ever caused you to attempt to compensate in one area or another? Has knowing you type helped you in life?  I confess that I find all this very interesting. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sunday Synopsis

I am aware that there are parts of this country desperately in need of rain. Honestly, we've had more that our share here and I'd love to share it with those who could really use it. Most parts of our metropolitan area have had between 11 and 12.5 inches of rain in the past 30 days. It rained again today.

I can honestly say that the rain and cloudy weather have taken a tole on me. There are other factors but I've felt a bit depressed this week and I can honestly say that  the dreariness is a contributing factor.

This afternoon I ventured out to attend a poetry group meeting in Northland. Shared poetry, our own and other works of interest. As often is the case, we conclude with a writing prompt that we work on and most will share their draft. I also tested a newer draft I brought along to test the waters. I would say that it stayed afloat.

Wouldn't you know it, on the way home the rain came through once again. Some times I feel like it's the same storm front doing circles. It's crazy.

I've been busy planing my submissions for the weeks ahead. Working on new material, and reading. Presently I'm reading, Why God is a Woman, by Nin Andrews.

I am discontinuing my Journal of Creative Exploration blog. This blog was based on my  exploring various elements of creativity and challenges of a creative life based on my  weekly use of the Poet Tarot Cards created by Two Sylvias Press. I continue to use them and will perhaps mention my usage periodically  here but not the sharing of a larger dedicated weekly post.

I did draw a new poet card today.  Marianne Moore is my card for this week. I'll be communing with her most likely about clarity of goals this week. I will acknowledge that  recent weeks have moved me in an area of procrastination - trying to organize a small  group to workshop our writing. The practical application of allowing yourself to be influenced by these cards really can be beneficial. If you are open to it, you can let them lead you into places that you are too fearful to tackle.

I'm feeling a little less dark already. Not that dark is a bad thing.