Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What I'm Reading

the way upward and the way downward is one and the same

Heraclitus - Michelangelo

School 'Reform': A Failing Grade by Diane Ravitch, The New York Review of Books:

...In these two books, we have two versions of school reform. One is devised by Wall Street financiers and politicians who believe in rigidly defined numerical goals and return on investment; they blame lazy teachers, and self-interested unions when test scores are low. The other draws on the deep experience of a compassionate teacher who finds fault not with teachers, unions or students, but with a society that refuses to take responsibility for the conditions in which its children live and learn -- and who has demonstrated through her own efforts how one dedicated teacher has improved the education of poor young people.

from the 49th issue of the literary journal Tin House, the issue titled The Ecstatic, a feature by Elissa Schappell called How the Light Gets In -- a mind-blowing accounting of the author's experience of temporal lobe epilepsy:

...However, this is how I reconcile my belief in science with my belief in the divine. You can say it was a seizure that sparked my ecstatic experience, the same way it brings on an aura. I will argue that because of the epilepsy I was open, the scar in my brain the crack that let the light in.

T.S. Eliot's (prompted by a recent New Yorker article about him) Burnt Norton in Four Quartets:

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory

Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.

                                 But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.

I am grateful for this reading, for my ability to read, for the ease with which I read and for the unending curiosity I have -- I am grateful for these graces bestowed upon me.


  1. Thank you for that excellently diverse selection.

  2. I have sat here, as I usually do, struggling with how to respond, as I never am able to convey my meaning well. I agree with the teacher and I very much enjoyed T.S. Eliot and the idea that a seizure is a "crack that let the light in.". I am also grateful for my ability to read, it has opened up many worlds I would have never known of else wise.

  3. I don't have much to say right now but am sending love to you & your family.

  4. I don't know. The quote about "letting the light in" sort of just proves my theory that religiosity is a brain dysfunction. Okay. I hope I haven't offended anyone. I probably have.
    But, on a positive note, I will say that reading is and always has been, the most constant constant of my life.

  5. Of course you must know Leonard Cohen's lines "there is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in...."



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