Note: My alternate title for this post is Better Angels and Bad Hard Drives.
Like many people around the world, I began to breathe again as I watched President Biden’s and Vice President Harris’ Inauguration happen safely. I’m not the flag waver in my family (that would be my Marine husband), but I admit to getting caught up in a wave of wonder and hope, first from President Biden’s brilliant speech, which seemed to have more than a few hallmarks of my Pulitzer Prize winning childhood playmate’s writing in it, and second by America’s first ever Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman whose poetry is the most compelling speech I have ever heard or read. Literature geek that I am, even Shakespeare doesn’t choke me up like she did.
In addition, for the second time in two unbelievably long and stressful months, I’m proud to be from Georgia. I get a fair amount of flack for being a Southerner. People love to tell me I don’t sound like one, either because my accent isn’t strong or because I sound intelligent, and they intend this as a compliment. I get it, but we don’t all look and sound like we belong on Duck Dynasty. I like to think that I serve as a reminder we’re not all racist and stupid. (Don’t get me wrong. Plenty of Southerners are both of those truly awful things, but a good many of us are neither!)
So as I out myself once again as a thinking liberal, in both the classical and political meanings of the word, I am wishing you a belated Happy New Year! It would have been sooner, but my beloved iMac’s hard drive died right after the deadly insurrection at the Capitol, breaking my several years’ near perfect streak of blogging every two weeks. While this is an insignificant drop in the bucket compared with loss of freedom, I find my ability to cope with the big things, the horrendous and deadly things, has a lot to do with my counting on the small things not falling apart. Eek.
And so, as we in the US embrace our better angels, with an eye toward the “light, if only we’re brave enough to see it,” I am sharing with you some of the board-bound oases of creative brilliance that have helped keep me sane during the last year.
Yes, books! Glorious, enlightening, and inspiring books! (I didn’t call myself a literature geek for nothing.)
I love books!!! Can’t get enough of them. Literally. According to Library Thing, that wonderful database that (mostly) prevents me from purchasing the same books twice, there are now over 700 books just in my 250 square foot studio alone. Most have glorious images (the philosophy and mythology books are in the front of the house) and many are old, which is why they are on shelves and not only on my iPad. (Don’t even ask me how many books are on my iPad!)
Here are a few recently finished or recently discovered books to inspire creativity, wonder, and thought…all of which are key ingredients to sanity and democracy.
Figuring by Maria Popova
If you love big-picture dot connecting, then prepare to fall down one of the most densely packed and elegant rabbit holes you’ll ever encounter in English. Figuring is a delight to delve into, a marvel of connections of people through art and science. Far from a trivial who’s who, Figuring shines light on luminaries whose vital contributions have long since been woven into the very structure of our scientific and cultural understanding, yet many of whom had become nameless and left out, often because they were women. Figuring not only sets the record straight, the way Maria Popova (the formidable and generous brains behind Brain Pickings) elucidates history as art itself.
World of Wonders by Aimee Nezhukumatathil
The world and all its wonders, seen through the lens of a human who sees through the lenses of plants and animals, this book may well make you fall in love with corpse flowers, narwhals, and many other lifeforms you may never have considered but suddenly realize you can’t do without. Seriously. I like to believe I write good essays. Aimee Nezhukumatathil makes this city girl want to try even harder and at the same time spend my days and nights connected to the natural world. I asked my son for it for Christmas because of the illustrations and found the prose even more exquisite. Enjoy.
My friend and calligraphic/painting teacher Heather Victoria Held put me onto this artist’s beautiful and precious books, many of which are still available as hand bound limited editions. His illustrations go beyond kitsch and land somewhere between Beatrix Potter’s and Salvador Dali in their vivid imaginings.
…And For my own creative contributions…
Join the fun, learn something new, and make something cool in my Granulation Ring Workshop via Zoom, February 12-14. Click below for a preview of the class and registration details. Hosted online by Metal Arts Guild of Georgia. (You don’t have to be a guild member to take this workshop. In fact, you don’t actually have to be there since you’ll have access to the recordings.)
Thanks to everyone who participated in my Big Beautiful Bezels online workshop through Metalwerx last week! Great group and great questions! I’ll be at their Wear & Share next Wednesday, January 27 if you’d like to show off what you’ve gotten done so far.