“The ethic of reverence of life constrains all, in whatever walk of life they may find themselves, to busy themselves intimately with all the human and vital processes which are being played out around them, and to give themselves as men to the man who needs human help and sympathy. It does not allow the scholar to live for his science alone, even if he is very useful to the community in so doing. It does not permit the artist to exist only for his art, even if he gives inspiration to many by its means. It refuses to let the business man imagine that he fulfills all legitimate demands in the course of his business activities. It demands from all that they should sacrifice a portion of their own lives for others. In what way and in what measure this is his duty, this everyone must decide on the basis of the thoughts which arise in himself, and the circumstances which attend the course of his own life. The self-sacrifice of one may not be particularly in evidence. He carries it out simply by continuing his normal life. Another is called to some striking self-surrender which obliges him to set on one side all regard for his own progress. Let no one measure himself by his conclusions respecting someone else. The destiny of men has to fulfill itself in a thousand ways, so that goodness may be actualized. What every individual has to contribute remains his own secret. But we must all mutually share in the knowledge that our existence only attains its true value when we have experienced in ourselves the truth of the declaration: ‘He who loses his life shall find it,'” – Albert Schweitzer, The Spiritual Life.
Ellie Lee tells shares how she came to appreciate the essential role her father, an immigrant shopkeeper, played in his community:
I probably send more emails to the Dish than to any one person I know outside of work, other than my close relatives and girlfriend. To the extent that “community” and “communication” have a shared root (which they do), The Dish is a community to me. And in any community, there are those who get a thrill up their leg being an active member (your “dorky” subscriber), and those who keep their distance from any displays of affection (your dissenter). And there are those who simply appreciate the stimulation the community provides and find it occasional cathartic to throw in their two cents (or pence in my case) by shooting of an email.
The Dish is not Oprah. It is that rare thing on the Internet: a place for intelligent discussion that wears itself lightly. Most of the web communities I’ve seen are populated by either emotion-infused screeds or dispassionate analyses that betray nothing of the writer’s bias. The Dish is the only place I find commentary that doesn’t pander to either extreme. In part because reader feedback is moderated. But largely because, while biased, the editing is, as you claim, remarkably balanced.
Maureen O’Connor wonders about the role masturbation plays in relationships:
Most studies find that a big majority of married Americans report masturbating (and since it’s self-reporting, that probably undersells it). “Even if I had all the men in the world that I wanted in my bed, even if I had Ryan Gosling, I would still masturbate with sex toys,” French sex columnist Maïa Mazaurette recently told me. “I don’t want to go back to a world without plastic!”
On the other hand, well, masturbation is sort of inherently antisocial. Within the bounds of a relationship defined, in part, by both partners’ willingness to devote sexual energy to one another, it can be downright rude. Can we ever really get over the embarrassment of purely personal indulgence? Or take the indulgence of your partner as anything other than a rejection of you? Even if we want to be open, practically and emotionally, exposing deeply private habits to anyone — even the one you love — is reflexively uncomfortable. And hearing your girlfriend rev up her vibrator after saying she’s going to sleep early can be hard to shake. Just because everyone’s doing it doesn’t mean that the negotiations won’t be awkward or that the concessions will be easy to get used to.
“On the Grasshopper and Cricket” by John Keats (1795-1821):
The poetry of earth is never dead:
When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;
That is the Grasshopper’s—he takes the lead
In summer luxury,–he has never done
With his delights; for when tired out with fun
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.
The poetry of earth is creasing never:
On a lone winter evening, when the frost
Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
The Cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever,
And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,
The Grasshopper’s among some grassy hills.
(Photo by Jim Capaldi)
We’re still trying to catch ours:
Given this week’s weather, Tobias Wolff’s “Hunters in the Snow” seemed like a timely selection – though of course the story isn’t really about snow. Here’s how it begins:
Tub had been waiting for an hour in the falling snow. He paced the sidewalk to keep warm and stuck his head out over the curb whenever he saw lights approaching. One driver stopped for him but before Tub could wave the man on he saw the rifle on Tub’s back and hit the gas. The tires spun on the ice. The fall of snow thickened. Tub stood below the overhang of a building. Across the road the clouds whitened just above the rooftops, and the street lights went out. He shifted the rifle strap to his other shoulder. The whiteness seeped up the sky.
A truck slid around the corner, horn blaring, rear end sashaying. Tub moved to the sidewalk and held up his hand. The truck jumped the curb and kept coming, half on the street and half on the sidewalk. It wasn’t slowing down at all. Tub stood for a moment, still holding up his hand, then jumped back. His rifle slipped off his shoulder and clattered on the ice, a sandwich fell out of his pocket. He ran for the steps of the building. Another sandwich and a package of cookies tumbled onto the new snow. He made the steps and looked back.
I see a none-too-subtle South Park reference in today’s short story. I mean, it’s The Dish and one of the main guys is Kenny. Of course he’s fucked.
The Pakistani novelist Kamila Shamsie tours the National Museum of her native country, noting that “it’s the pre-Islamic parts that most interest me”:
In the centre of the [Late Harappan (or Indus Valley Civilisation) Room], on a podium of his own, is that most iconic of the Indus Valley Civilisation’s artefacts: the priest-king. Unlike many of the other objects in the museum, there’s an approximate date attached to the soapstone figure: 2500-1500 BC. I look closely at the priest-king’s combed-back hair and cropped beard, his patterned cloak, the circlet at his brow. For years a replica of this figure looked out from one of the bookshelves in my family home, mysterious and distant, and now that I’m standing in front of the original I feel … quite certain it’s another replica.
At this point the director of the museum, Mr Bukhari, walks in and I ask him straight. “The original is kept somewhere,” he says, smiling a little sadly. “It’s a national symbol. We can’t take risks with it.”
With just those few words he transforms my combative attitude.What pressures there must be in running a museum that requires a Koranic inscription at its entrance to try and ward off attacks. The object that should be the centrepiece of the museum—the one Mr Bukhari describes as a “national symbol”—has to be hidden away “somewhere” that can’t be named. …
Chenjerai Kumanyika feels that “few of the hosts of popular narrative non-fiction podcasts and public radio programs like This American Life, Invisibilia, RadioLab, Startup, and Strangers are non-white.” He wonders how greater diversity in narrators and hosts would affect the “public voice” of radio:
In August and then again in November 2014, my wife and I traveled to Ferguson, Missouri. When we first got there in August, I remember talking to some young African-American males who lived on the street where Michael Brown was killed. I asked one why he thought that there had been such an uprising in Ferguson. In response, he reminded me that Michael Brown’s body had lain in the street for four hours (he said eight) before being picked up. Of course I had heard this before, but he made me feel it. I sat quietly for over 40 minutes and let him tell his own story his own way. His voice smoldered with conviction as he spoke. The deep resentment and frustration in his steady low tones pushed through any detachment or emotional distance that I might try to maintain. I felt the weight of Michael Brown’s body, and the weight of so many other lives in this young man’s voice. I wasn’t hearing his voice thrown in as a sound bite garnish to another host’s main dish. Instead, he was the narrator, assembling memories, images, emotions, and even speculation into his own multi-modal account. I would like to hear people who speak with voices like this young man’s voice as hosts and narrators on public radio shows and podcasts.
Kumanyika comments on the above audio sample he recorded:
Some of what bothers me is just problems with poor writing choices. At times, I wrote with in a voice that isn’t my own (“Fisherman with Capital F”? What does that even mean?). What bothers me most when I listen to this piece is that I’m acutely conscious of the way I’m adjusting my whole experience/method of inhabiting my personality. My voice sounds too high in pitch, all the rounded corners of my vernacular are awkwardly squared off. I’ve flattened the interesting aspects of my voice.
He re-recorded it with more of his own personality:
You have until noon on Tuesday to guess it. City and/or state first, then country. Please put the location in the subject heading, along with any description within the email. If no one guesses the exact location, proximity counts. Be sure to email entries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Winner gets a free The View From Your Window book or a Dish t-shirt. Have at it.