August 16 marks the birthday of Charles Bukowski and I’d like to share his letter to publisher John Martin. Martin encouraged Bukowski to write full time by offering him $100 a month for life if he would quit his job and stick to writing .
Thanks for the good letter. I don’t think it hurts, sometimes, to remember where you came from. You know the places where I came from. Even the people who try to write about that or make films about it, they don’t get it right. They call it “9 to 5.” It’s never 9 to 5, there’s no free lunch break at those places, in fact, at many of them in order to keep your job you don’t take lunch. Then there’s OVERTIME and the books never seem to get the overtime right and if you complain about that, there’s another sucker to take your place.
You know my old saying, “Slavery was never abolished, it was only extended to include all the colors.”
And what hurts is the steadily diminishing humanity of those fighting to hold jobs they don’t want but fear the alternative worse. People simply empty out. They are bodies with fearful and obedient minds. The color leaves the eye. The voice becomes ugly. And the body. The hair. The fingernails. The shoes. Everything does.
As a young man I could not believe that people could give their lives over to those conditions. As an old man, I still can’t believe it. What do they do it for? Sex? TV? An automobile on monthly payments? Or children? Children who are just going to do the same things that they did?
Early on, when I was quite young and going from job to job I was foolish enough to sometimes speak to my fellow workers: “Hey, the boss can come in here at any moment and lay all of us off, just like that, don’t you realize that?”
They would just look at me. I was posing something that they didn’t want to enter their minds.
Now in industry, there are vast layoffs (steel mills dead, technical changes in other factors of the work place). They are layed off by the hundreds of thousands and their faces are stunned:
“I put in 35 years…”
“It ain’t right…”
“I don’t know what to do…”
They never pay the slaves enough so they can get free, just enough so they can stay alive and come back to work. I could see all this. Why couldn’t they? I figured the park bench was just as good or being a barfly was just as good. Why not get there first before they put me there? Why wait?
I just wrote in disgust against it all, it was a relief to get the shit out of my system. And now that I’m here, a so-called professional writer, after giving the first 50 years away, I’ve found out that there are other disgusts beyond the system.
I remember once, working as a packer in this lighting fixture company, one of the packers suddenly said: “I’ll never be free!”
One of the bosses was walking by (his name was Morrie) and he let out this delicious cackle of a laugh, enjoying the fact that this fellow was trapped for life.
So, the luck I finally had in getting out of those places, no matter how long it took, has given me a kind of joy, the jolly joy of the miracle. I now write from an old mind and an old body, long beyond the time when most men would ever think of continuing such a thing, but since I started so late I owe it to myself to continue, and when the words begin to falter and I must be helped up stairways and I can no longer tell a bluebird from a paperclip, I still feel that something in me is going to remember (no matter how far I’m gone) how I’ve come through the murder and the mess and the moil, to at least a generous way to die.
To not to have entirely wasted one’s life seems to be a worthy accomplishment, if only for myself.
via Open Culture
Public-interest lawyer, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative Bryan Stevenson talks about identity and injustice in the US judicial system.
I wrote some of his words that I’ve found thought-provoking.
“We have a system of justice in this country that treats you much better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent. Wealth, not culpability, shapes outcomes.” [06:34]
“There is no disconnect around technology and design that will allow us to be fully human until we pay attention to suffering, to poverty, to exclusion, to unfairness, to injustice. Now I will warn you that this kind of identity is a much more challenging identity than ones that don’t pay attention to this. It will get to you.” [13:24]
“And I actually believe that the TED community needs to be more courageous. We need to find ways to embrace these challenges, these problems, the suffering. Because ultimately, our humanity depends on everyone’s humanity.” [15:24]
“the opposite of poverty is justice” [15:24]
“I’ve come to TED because I believe that many of you understand that the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice. That we cannot be full evolved human beings until we care about human rights and basic dignity. That all of our survival is tied to the survival of everyone. That our visions of technology and design and entertainment and creativity have to be married with visions of humanity, compassion and justice. And more than anything, for those of you who share that, I’ve simply come to tell you to keep your eyes on the prize, hold on” [20:27]
A touching story and an honest insight into one’s passion for the work.
I’m not even sure how to answer when they ask whether the project is helping me, at least. When I say I’m not getting paid for this work, they think I’m crazy. But that doesn’t matter much. After all, I’m working on a project I love with the person I love. Photography just happens to be a part of the process. I’ve gotten to the point where I want to work for only three people: myself, those I love, and my subjects. – Tim Gruber,
Ah! que l’intervalle est cruel entre un grand projet conçu et son
exécution! Que de vaines terreurs! que d’irrésolutions! Il s’agit de la
—Il s’agit de bien plus: de l’honneur!
Oh, how cruel is the interval between the conception and the execution of a great project! What vain fears, what fits of irresolution! It has to do with life or death!
— It has to do with much more than that: it has to do with honor!
An interesting article about enrollment in top-schools. I recommend everyone to read it, especially if you’re preparing for those long and entwined application procedures.
Getting In : The New Yorker. by Malcolm Gladwell
Two Lists You Should Look at Every Morning
I will give this technique a try starting from today! As I’m juggling a lot of important things lately, it happens that I become distracted down the road… facebook, checking analytics too often, reading emails to often…
The article suggests two lists:
- The list of priorities
- The list of things to ignore or avoid