I am working on some things that will (I hope) be significant additions to my Invitation & Repair project, but those are taking a while to develop. It’s getting near the end of the semester and such times are always busy and stressful, so opportunity for reflection is currently a bit scarce.
Whenever I see something online that I think I want to read, I put it in Instapaper — and then I try to leave it for a while. Often when I visit Instapaper the chief thing I do is delete the pieces I only had thought I needed to read. So for me it’s not just a read-later service, it’s a don’t-read-later service. But that only works if I don’t go there too often. I try to catch up with my Instapaper queue once a week at most.
One of the most essential tips for researchers and writers: revisit and review. It’s not enough to make notes — however you prefer to make them — you have to set aside time to review what you’ve written and find the most important stuff. Some items might be recycled through several review sessions before finding a place in your writing. All serious thinking is iterative. My first task, once the current school term ends, is to revisit some of the key tags on this blog to see what connections I’ve missed, what ideas bear further development.
Late to this, but my friend Richard Gibson has a smart and provocative piece at the Hog Blog on maps, territories, and Ukraine.
“We cannot be His ambassadors reconciling the world to God, if we have not ourselves been willing to be reconciled to one another.” — Lesslie Newbigin.
I am alarmed by how dramatically the quality of writing in the New York Review of Books has declined since Robert Silvers’s death. Essay after essay seems structurally disordered or filled with confusing sentences or simply lacking in clear purpose. People always said that Silvers was an editorial genius and I’m ever more inclined to believe the praise.
The best punditry strategy: Claiming that the people you hate are scheming to destroy your audience. If they do what you predict, you rejoice in your status as prophet; if they don’t, you claim credit for having sounded the warning that averted the catastrophe.
“A leading television commentator lectured me that I presumed to judge the experience of the world from the viewpoint of my own limited Soviet and prison-camp experience. Indeed, how true! Life and death, imprisonment and hunger, the cultivation of the soul despite the captivity of the body: how very limited that is compared to the bright world of political parties, yesterday’s numbers on the stock exchange, amusements without end, and exotic foreign travel!” — Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, as quoted in a brilliant essay by Gary Saul Morson. (His excellence hasn’t been lessened by Silvers’s departure from the scene.)