Fighting a Plague with Decency

I just read this great article by Alain de Botton in The NY Times about one of my favorite books – The Plague by Albert Camus. It’s not what you’d call a fun read. In this book and others, Camus wrote about the absurdity of life, since it always involves death from which there is no escape for any of us. Those familar with my own books know that I usually write about an alternate meaning of absurdity, as in silliness. And right now, we could all use some silliness (hint: for temporary relief, any film by Monty Python, Mel Brooks, or Steve Martin).

In his story, Camus described a virus that spreads uncontrollably and eventually kills half the population of a town in Algeria. The people of the town refuse to accept this fact, as the deaths pile up. Through it all, the main character Dr. Rieux works to save lives and ease suffering. Quietly he goes about his job, like the many doctors and health care workers today, in our current crisis. “It may seem like a ridiculous idea,” Rieux says, “but the only way to fight the plague is with decency.”

With so much we still don’t know and a vaccine still a long ways off, that may be our best weapon right now. Read the article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/19/opinion/sunday/coronavirus-camus-plague.html

This is Your Brain on Poetry

When I first read this article, I couldn’t help but think of that old TV public service announcement “This is your brain on drugs.” While poems don’t fry our brains, there’s something peculiar going on inside our heads when we read them, infecting us, in the words of Nabokov, with  “the telltale tingle between the shoulder blades.” 

Wish I could find a picture of what your brain actually looks like on poetry. Meanwhile, read more to see what science tells us. this-is-what-happens-to-your-brain-when-you-read-poetry

Things to Do Instead of Watching the Inauguration

 

Wondering what to do this Friday? Here are some thoughtful suggestions:

1.) Read a good book (Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin, for instance).

2.) Find someone who needs help and show that person a little kindness.

3.) Write something in more than 140 characters.

4.) Learn about a religion, philosophy, or culture other than your own.

5.) Engage in a conversation that doesn’t require a screen.

6.) Say something reasonable, honest, and true.

7.) Sit in a quiet room and see how long you can keep two opposing thoughts in your head … or three if you dare!

#THINGSTODOINSTEADOFWATCHINGINAUGURATION