Last night, the poet Christian Wiman gave the 10th annual Commonweal Lecture at Fairfield University. The talk was entitled “Hammer Is the Faith: Radical Doubt, Realistic Faith.”
Among other things, Wiman exhorted his listeners to memorize poetry (“it can be a bulwark against all the cant that surrounds us,” he said); quoted from A . R. Ammons, Gerard Manley Hopkins, George Herbert, T. S. Eliot, W. H. Auden, W. B. Yeats ... the list goes on; and talked about the apparent--but ultimately illusory--pull between life and art: the sense, that is, that one can live happily and well OR create art but not both.
Most memorably, for me at least, he spoke of those Wordsworthian “spots of time” where we seem not just touched but called from something that exceeds us. We can feel these in our experience with nature (seeing a sublime waterfall) or in our experience with art (feeling wonder at the beauty of a line of poetry) or in our experience with people (being scoured and born anew in our love for another).
Religious faith, Wiman declared, is ultimately faith to these moments--a cherishing and honoring of the experiences when we felt, deep within our bones, an unexplained surplus of being.
If this all sounds intriguing, then you should buy Wiman's latest book, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer. Here is a link.
And here is a link to Wiman reading from his poem “From a Window,” which describes the wonder the speaker felt after a flock of birds flew up from a tree and ends like this:
Of course that old tree stood
exactly as it had and would
(but why should it seem fuller now?)
and though a man's mind might endow
even a tree with some excess
of life to which a man seems witness,
that life is not the life of men.
And that is where the joy came in.
My students are very attached to these thematic collections — they think that’s what the publishers want. … But I never think of a collection as a form or a genre. I think of a collection as literally a collection — a temporal document. You put together what you’ve written over a decade, and there it is. I think each story should begin in a completely pure and independent way. Now, it will have things in common with other stories — it just will, because it’s coming from you. But stories have so much in common already, because they’re from one single writer, that there’s no reason to artificially make them talk to each other.
A typically beautiful piece by James Wood, this time a memoiristic essay on music, home, exile, and W. G. Sebald:
When I left this country 18 years ago, I didn’t know how strangely departure would obliterate return: how could I have done? It’s one of time’s lessons, and can only be learned temporally. What is peculiar, even a little bitter, about living for so many years away from the country of my birth, is the slow revelation that I made a large choice a long time ago that did not resemble a large choice at the time; that it has taken years for me to see this; and that this process of retrospective comprehension in fact constitutes a life – is indeed how life is lived. Freud has a wonderful word, ‘afterwardness’, which I need to borrow, even at the cost of kidnapping it from its very different context. To think about home and the departure from home, about not going home and no longer feeling able to go home, is to be filled with a remarkable sense of ‘afterwardness’: it is too late to do anything about it now, and too late to know what should have been done. And that may be all right.
Mark Ford on the "daemonic" nature of T. S. Eliot's poetry:
From the outset, Eliot’s work fused satire and mysticism; his denunciations of society depend for their authority on his conviction that the religious vision of his great hero, Dante, offered a securer means of interpreting and judging culture and experience than the formulae and rituals of liberal democracy.
Francine Prose on the salutary aspects of negative reviews:
For me, writing a negative review feels like being the child in Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Few of us remember how the tale ends: The child cries out that the emperor is naked, which the emperor knows, but the procession continues anyway, “stiffer than ever.” This might cast some doubt on the efficacy — the point — of the negative review, but it also casts some light on the child in the story, who isn’t necessarily trying to expose the dishonest weavers or the hypocritical courtiers or oblige the emperor to get dressed. He just can’t help telling what he believes is the truth.
Fans not just of baseball or of baseball writing but of writing in general will be happy to hear that Roger Angell has won the Baseball Hall of Fame’s J.G. Taylor Spink Award. As New Yorker editor David Remnick notes in his post announcing the news, the recognition has come none too soon: Angell, ninety-three, has been writing on baseball for decades and seemed, perhaps because of his literary associations, overlooked in favor of famous beat-writer Cooperstown inductees like Red Smith and Ring Lardner.
The Summer Game, Angell’s first collection of baseball writing, was published in 1972 and contains essays dating to the 1962 season – including “The ‘Go’ Shouters,” one of several on the nascent New York Mets and their fans, whose ranks I was doomed to join. “The ‘Go’ Shouters” was the first thing from Angell I ever read, and it stands alongside “The Web of the Game” (recounting a Yale vs. St. John’s pitchers’ duel between future big leaguers -- and Mets -- Frank Viola and Ron Darling) and the palindromic-headlined “Not So, Boston” (how the 1986 Red Sox snatched defeat from the jaws of victory) as my favorites. The latter is collected in Season Ticket, for which Angell borrows a quote from Ted Williams to adorn the contents page: “Don’t you know how hard this all is?” Williams meant batting in particular and baseball in general, but it could also apply to writing well, not just about baseball but about anything.
Angell has made it look easy for many years – whether in his reviews or in his “Greetings, Friends” Christmas verse in the New Yorker or in his pieces on baseball – but his awareness of the effort required is apparent from the careful composition and the clarity of his prose, his respect for the work reflected in the thoughtful regard in which he holds his subjects. Maybe his even longer career as fiction editor at the New Yorker has had something to do with it? In any case, the magazine has posted links to a number of Angell’s baseball pieces here.
Now on the website: Jerome Kramer reviews David Schickler's memoir The Dark Path, and interviews the author. From the review (which you can read in full here):
In a few strokes, Schickler [sets] up the twin impulses that propel his provocative and ambitious book. He loves girls to the point of distraction, is fascinated by them, moved by them, pulled to them, wants to marry and sleep with them; he is also drawn to Catholicism and specifically, he thinks, to its priesthood—which is, problematically, celibate. So what’s a passionate young man to do?
And something from Schickler himself, in the interview (read it all here):
Honestly, if I hadn’t been raised Catholic, or raised religious, and I heard the kind of bubbly-safe stuff that some religious people say, I would dismiss it. I would think: This is silly. I mean, I do believe in a leap of faith—at some point reason is only going to get you so far—but reason brought me to my faith, as opposed to crushing it like a bug. But my point is, I recoil from safey-safe, kid-glove approaches to talking. Christ wasn’t like that.
Commonweal contributor Rand Richards Cooper flags a typically blunt reaction from Diane Ravitch to news that U.S. students performed less well than kids from other countries on international standardized tests. Ravitch castigates what she calls the Bad News Industry for making a big deal of this because the United States has never, in half a century, performed much better than it did this time and, further, it probably just doesn’t matter how our kids stack up against their counterparts in Finland, Japan, or Germany.
In my recent book, Reign of Error, I quote extensively from a brilliant article by Keith Baker, called “Are International Tests Worth Anything?,” which was published by Phi Delta Kappan in October 2007. Baker, who worked for many years as a researcher at the U.S. Department of Education, had the ingenious idea to investigate what happened to the 12 nations that took the First International Mathematics test in 1964. He looked at the per capita gross domestic product of those nations and found that “the higher a nation’s test score 40 years ago, the worse its economic performance on this measure of national wealth-the opposite of what the Chicken Littles raising the alarm over the poor test scores of U.S. children claimed would happen.” He found no relationship between a nation’s economic productivity and its test scores. Nor did the test scores bear any relationship to quality of life or democratic institutions. And when it came to creativity, the U.S. “clobbered the world,” with more patents per million people than any other nation. …
Never do [test proponents] explain how it was possible for the U.S. to score so poorly on international tests again and again over the past half century and yet still emerge as the world’s leading economy, with the world’s most vibrant culture, and a highly productive workforce. From my vantage point as a historian, here is my takeaway from the PISA scores … If they mean anything at all, [they] show the failure of the past dozen years of public policy in the United States. The billions invested in testing, test prep, and accountability have not raised test scores or our nation’s relative standing on the league tables. No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top are manifest failures at accomplishing their singular goal of higher test scores.
Ravitch can always be counted on to re-introduce rationality to the debate over education “reform,” whether via her rapid-response blogging or opinion pieces in the press. The recent book she refers to was of course reviewed last month in our pages by Jackson Lears – a review Ravitch herself called “The. Most. Brilliant. Review. of. Reign. of. Error. Ever.” [punctuation hers] If you want to know what’s being done to schools (and to kids, teachers, and communities) in the name of “reform,” it’s always a good time to read it -- maybe no more so than when the Bad News Industry is on full alert.
Poor, prescient Don DeLillo, forever to be condemned for his ability to tell us how we live now a quarter of a century before we start to think about it ourselves. Rereading Libra during what Paul Elie calls “assassination season” I’m struck again by DeLillo's ability to anticipate (foretell? Warn of?) the ripple effects of each small advance in technology, every incremental expansion of media’s reach – including especially the shrugging acceptance of the manipulation of word, image, and what has come impersonally to be known as personal data. One of the characters in DeLillo’s 1988 fictional reimagining of John F. Kennedy’s assassination assembles a plot centered on a fabricated killer, a would-be assassin conjured out of fake ephemera:
He would show the secret symmetries in a nondescript life. An address book with ambiguous leads. Photos expertly altered (or crudely altered). Letters, travel documents, counterfeit signatures, a history of false names. It would all require a massive decipherment, a conversion to plain text.
The italics are mine, and meant to highlight DeLillo’s particular expertise in concisely expressing how reality can be made to seem more real by making it seem less so. A lot of “seems” in there but that’s the point; Libra is a hall of mirrors about a hall of mirrors. The notion of fractured images endlessly reflecting back on themselves, a jumble of past, present and future, is captured in the lines of another character:Read more
“Nothing can live up to the memory of a good scare, especially if administered to one who is young and impressionable.”
That’s Stephen King in the note to his newest novel, Doctor Sleep, a sequel to The Shining and a book he suggests wasn’t meant to be as frightening as its predecessor. I don’t plan on reading it, and not just because of the questionable return on time likely to be invested. It’s that I don’t want it to ruin my memory of The Shining, which I read in seventh grade, polishing it off within forty-eight hours of finding a paperback copy at the public library. That led me to Salem’s Lot and Carrie and then, a slight detour, to The Amityville Horror—not King—begun and completed in a couple of terrifying hours one gray November day home alone after school. Good scares, and “administered” is the only way to describe the method by which they were transmitted. I was young and impressionable and can’t say I necessarily enjoyed these experiences in the moment, though each was over before I knew it.
King’s probably right that nothing can live up to the memory. If you were scared by the film version of The Exorcist on its release forty (yes, forty) years ago, try watching it now. But scary reads are still out there, light on schlock, zombies, and vampires and unencumbered by genre conventions. And they’re not just by Henry James or Shirley Jackson.Read more
Milwaukee-area readers, take note: tomorrow (Wednesday, October 30) at 7 p.m. you have the chance to hear not one but two Commonweal contributors talking fiction at Boswell Book Company.
Valerie Sayers will be discussing her new novel The Powers with Liam Callanan, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Sayers is a frequent contributor -- we published her short story "Children of Night" in July, and an earlier short story, "Brooklyn, Bewitched," is now a chapter in The Powers. (I cheered aloud when I found that out. More Babe O'Leary? Yes, please!) You can also read this recent interview with Sayers courtesy of our digital editor, Dominic Preziosi.
Liam Callanan is the author of two novels, All Saints and The Cloud Atlas (no, not that Cloud Atlas), and a Commonweal contributor too. You can order his books, and the newly reissued Sayers catalog, from Boswell Book Company. And if you're in the area, head there tomorrow night to hear what they have to say to each other.
Sometimes he woke in the morning and heard rain drumming on the roof. That meant he and Father might go fishing.
He didn’t dare speak to Father about fishing, because it was wrong to waste time in idleness. Even on rainy days there was plenty to do. Father might mend harness, or sharpen tools, or shave shingles. Silently Almanzo ate breakfast, knowing that Father was struggling against temptation. He was afraid Father’s conscience would win.
- Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farmer Boy
In my review of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, I didn’t have much room to talk about Farmer Boy, her second novel, which is about her husband Almanzo’s childhood on an upstate New York farm. Farmer Boy is independent from the rest of the series, although it does fill out the character of Almanzo (who returns as an adult in By the Shores of Silver Lake) and his sister Eliza Jane, who grew up to be Laura’s hapless schoolteacher.Read more
Pa had tuned his fiddle and now he set it against his shoulder. Overhead the wind went wailing lonely in the cold dark. But in the dugout everything was snug and cosy.
Bits of firelight came through the seams of the stove and twinkled on Ma's steel knitting-needles and tried to catch Pa's elbow. In the shadows the bow was dancing, on the floor Pa's toe was tapping, and the merry music hid the lonely crying of the wind.
- Laura Ingalls Wilder, On the Banks of Plum Creek
In the latest, "Fall Books" issue of Commonweal, I review Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House Books" -- recently published in a new, two-volume edition from the Library of America. This was a perfect excuse for me to revisit Wilder's series, which I loved as a girl, and try to separate it from my memories of the television series Little House on the Prairie (which I watched in reruns after school). The project left me with a lot more notes than I could fit into one essay, but hey, that's what the blog is for.
The main "argument" of the new edition, at least as I see it, is that Wilder is a real writer -- a fiction writer, an artist, and not just a glorified diarist -- and that her books are literature, not just amusements for children. I didn't need convincing, but I was still impressed as I read with just how talented a writer Laura Ingalls Wilder was. Passages like the one I quoted above took me by surprise with their homespun beauty: "Overhead the wind went wailing lonely in the cold dark" is as lovely a sentence as I hope to read in any book this year.
I note in my essay that "Wilder’s books are now historical documents twice over; today we are further removed from the time in which she wrote them than she was from the era she wrote about. " That means they've gone through several generations of readers, and parents today are revisiting them with their own children. The Little House books are a great choice for reading aloud, not least because one of Wilder's motivations in writing them was to pass along the captivating stories her father told her when she was a girl. So I want to hear your experiences with the books: did you read them as a kid, or as an adult, or both? Have you read them with your own children?Read more
Throwback Thursday, while around since as early as 2003, has become widely adopted on social media over the past year, particularly on the photo-sharing site Instagram. The concept is simple: users post old pictures—sometimes only a few days old, sometimes a few decades—to evoke a sense of nostalgia. Lucky for us at Commonweal, we’re 89 years old and have tons of old, archived throwbacks – that’d we’d now like to share with you.
Paid subscribers have access to the scores of archived material on our website, but we have even more in bound books lining the walls of our office. Starting this week, we will be posting articles from our historic archives that aren’t available on the site—as well as poems, videos, photos, and more.
This past week marked the 164th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s death, so naturally, we at Commonweal are musing on the relevance of a man whose work was published nearly two centuries ago. We know about his life, his literary work, and his genius. We know about his tragedy, poverty, and addictions. We also know he is the only poet who has a U.S. professional athletic team named after one of his works—the Baltimore Ravens. And to top it all off, Poe’s chilling stories of two centuries ago remain relevant alongside the top writers of today. Why is his work still so compelling?
To start Throwback Thursday, here is a review of Israfel: The Life and Times of Edgar Allan Poe by Hervey Allen, written by Padraic Colum in the August 24, 1927 issue of Commonweal.
“Poe’s work meant not only labor—it meant heroism. For a man to have produced such work as he produced, in spite of illness, disappointment, lack of appreciation, great sorrow, and the debility brought on by indulgence in opium, required an effort as heroic as an air-flight from New York to Paris. And there were no prizes to be received, no crowds to cheer, when the effort had been accomplished.”
To read three other reviews of Edgar Allan Poe’s work published in Commonweal between 1931 and 1947, download the tablet edition of the October 11th issue on your tablet or smartphone. Click here for more details.
There is justice in the world! It has just been announced that one of our greatest living writers, Alice Munro, has won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Several Commonweal contributors, including myself, have written on Munro in the recent past:
Dominic Preziosi on Dear Life
Anthony Domestico on "Haven"
Richard Alleva on a film adapation of "The Bear Came Over the Mountain"
And Jonathan Franzen wrote a wonderful celebration of her work a few years ago in the NYT.
Suitable Accommodations is the title of the recently published collection of letters of J.F. Powers. We’ll be featuring a review in our upcoming Fall Books issue, but in the meantime its appearance seems just as much an occasion for advancing hypotheses on why he’s not more widely read today, or even so widely remembered, as it is for discussing the letters. After all, many of these theorists posit explicitly or implicitly, Powers’s Morte D’Urban beat out, among others, Nabokov’s Pale Fire, Katherine Anne Porter’s Ship of Fools, and John Updike’s Pigeon Feathers for the 1963 National Book Award -- shouldn’t that still count for something? (Moldering copies of the latter two books could still be found on my parents’ bookcase decades later, but anything by Powers? No.)
Following are excerpts from some recent commentary. Do you put stock in any of these more than others? Was it Powers’s style, or his topic? Was he over-rated, or did something about the world he was documenting change fundamentally?
Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker:
[W]hy has Powers been so much eclipsed? [Joseph] Bottum suggests that it has something to do with the decline of the priestly vocation in America, but an outsider may wonder if it doesn’t have more to do with a less, shall we say, catholic self-definition of the faith. If the Lubavitchers had become the dominant force in American Judaism, there wouldn’t be much room for an Isaac Bashevis Singer, let alone a Philip Roth.
Joseph Epstein in the Wall Street Journal: “Powers's fiction was too subtle to acquire a large readership.”
Gary Wills in the current New York Review of Books:Read more
Most Catholics will remember the hysterical opposition to the so-called Ground Zero Mosque back in 2010. But what any may not realize is that one of the opposition’s principal organizers is considered by some influential Catholics to be the church’s chief expert on Islam.
Since the September 11 attacks, Robert Spencer has capitalized on the curiosity—and fear—that many Americans have about Muslims. While most of his sixteen books, including two New York Times bestsellers, attempt to convince all Americans that Islam is an inherently violent religion, Spencer has also authored books aimed at Catholics.
In 2003, he co-authored Inside Islam: A Guide for Catholics with a Muslim convert to Christianity, Daniel Ali, and in 2007 he wrote A Religion of Peace: Why Christianity is and Islam Isn’t. His newest book for Catholics, Not Peace But a Sword: The Great Chasm Between Christianity and Islam, was published earlier this year. In it, Spencer explicitly discourages dialogue and cooperation between Catholics and Muslims. The book’s cover features a curved sword, with the Arabic name of Muhammad inscribed on the blade, piercing a red cross. The first line of the introduction reads, “Can’t we all just get along? Maybe not. And if not, what then?”
He argues that Catholics and Muslims have virtually nothing in common, and falsely claims that Islam teaches that Christians should be persecuted. According to Spencer, Catholics put themselves in harm’s way by engaging in dialogue. Not only does this view place him in defiance of the Catholic Church’s teachings on dialogue and on Islam, it also reinforces the toxic belief that as Muslims as a group are a violent threat and should, at best, be avoided and, at worse, be opposed.Read more
Oakley Hall’s 1958 novel Warlock is a western in the way The Godfather is a crime novel or The Road a piece of post-apocalyptic sci-fi, which is to say it belongs to its genre but also subverts it. The novel harnesses familiar ideas—in this case, violence, honor, and the limits of law—for fictional storytelling, while examining how they can influence, direct, and legitimize cultural, personal, and political activity in the real world.
It’s no Zane Grey, as Robert Stone—whose own work takes up questions of violence and political conflict—acknowledges in his introduction to the 2006 reissue of Warlock, which in its depiction of duels, massacres, vendettas, and assassinations reveals how deadly force so often springs from nothing more than a desire to project credibility. The characters in Warlock aren’t necessarily interested in killing one another; they’re worried what people will think if they don’t—whether it’s avenging this murder or that insult, or preemptively eliminating a perceived enemy, even when the lack of clear evidence would seem to demand restraint. Protecting one’s reputation proves a poor justification for violence, Hall makes clear in Warlock, even while (or by) acknowledging that his characters have no real choice but to act as if it’s the best one.
But that’s a novel, and Hall’s thematic intent precludes epiphanies of self-awareness and the throwing down of guns. Real-world actors operate under no such constraints, though, and so credibility would seem an even worse excuse in this realm, especially when it comes to war. Yet there were John McCain and Lindsey Graham on Monday using the word again, a couple of days after Barack Obama—sidling up to it himself because of his own unforced error with the rhetoric of red lines—brought Congress into the decision-making on Syria. (Tuesday, John Kerry, Chuck Hagel, John Boehner and Eric Cantor employed its go-to variation: inaction will “embolden other regimes.”)
Writing in Foreign Affairs, Jonathan Mercer has twice made the case against using credibility as a cri de guerre—first in May, and then again last week to reflect developments since evidence of the use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians came to light.Read more
Three stories now featured on our home page.
George Scialabba writes on Leszek Kolakowski and the essays collected in Is God Happy?
[Kolakowski was not] solely or even primarily a political critic; he was a philosopher and a historian of philosophy. He wrote books on seventeenth-century philosophy, Bergson, Husserl, and positivism, among many others, including several on the philosophy of religion, such as The Presence of Myth, God Owes Us Nothing, Religion: If There Is No God…, and the middle section of Is God Happy?
The Enlightenment plays the same role in Kolakowski’s philosophical writings as Marxism does in his political writings. It’s where modernity went astray, where virtue took a wrong turn. Marxism distorted the quest for equality and social justice into utopian dogmatism; the Enlightenment distorted the promise of science and the rejection of superstition into relativistic rationalism. And just as Kolakowski’s positive political beliefs were hard to pin down (the closest he came was in an essay called “How To Be a Conservative-Liberal-Socialist”), so were his positive religious beliefs. For a long time he styled himself an “inconsistent atheist,” but near the end of his life he resolved the inconsistency by returning to the Catholic Church.
Perhaps the philosophical equivalent of “conservative-liberal-socialist” is “skeptical traditionalist.” At any rate, that’s a good description of Kolakowski’s religious/philosophical stance until his (re-) conversion. He was not (at least in his writing) a God-haunted man so much as a scourge of secularism; not so much avid to penetrate the mysteries as keen to debunk their debunkers. He does not have much comfort for afflicted believers, but he rejoices in afflicting comfortable unbelievers.
Nicholas Clifford looks at the "historical amnesia" of Catholic leaders on religious liberty:
The greater question implicitly raised by [Archbishop William] Lori, but never answered, has to do with the Catholic Church’s recent conversion to a view of religious freedom as a “fundamental right.” When and why did it happen? Here, Lori’s historical account carries us back no farther than Dignitatis humanae forty-eight years ago. Again he’s perfectly accurate when he says that “successive popes have reaffirmed the church’s commitment to this principle,” and though he rather surprisingly ignores John XXIII’s role in planting seeds, he cites John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and now Francis I, in support of religious freedom. Yet isn’t this a bit like saying that ever since the Voting Rights Act—also of 1965—successive U.S. presidents have upheld the ideal of racial equality? Case closed, in short; and there’s no longer any need to delve into America’s murky past from 1789 to 1964, and to have to explain the difficult contradictions that crop up.
Or is there? And if, since 1965, “successive” popes have upheld religious freedom, what can we say about “predecessive” popes, those who earlier presided over the governance of the church and its teachings for almost two millennia? Should we simply ignore them?
Finally, E. J. Dionne Jr. writes about Chris Christie, his debate phobia, and how his pragmatic persona plays against his aims to burnish his conservative record (for more on that last part, see this piece about the governor's veto of a sniper-rifle ban that he proposed himself) .
Fans of the poet and memoirist Mary Karr will want to read this lengthy interview in the Paris Review -- it's not new, but it's new to me (thanks, Twitter!). I reviewed Karr's third and most recent memoir, Lit, for Commonweal, and blogged about it here. In that book she recounts her struggles with addiction and recovery and her conversion to the Catholic faith. This interview is titled "The Art of Memoir," and Karr has many interesting things to say about that form (as well as about poetry), and about how she goes about writing -- something other writers always want to know. But even more interesting, to me, is what she has to say about how and why she prays -- and how prayer and writing are connected for her.
"I ask God what to write," Karr says. "I know that sounds insane, but I do. I say: What do you want me to say?.... I’ll get stuck and I’ll just say, Help me."
Karr goes into some detail about her personal prayer routine -- it's the kind of reading that makes me want to brush up my own prayer life. (She's also proudly vulgar, sometimes right in the middle of a sentence about prayer, so delicate sensibilities beware.) And she has a suggestion for anyone who doubts her sanity: "To skeptics I say, Just try it. Pray every day for thirty days. See if your life gets better. If it doesn’t, tell me I’m an asshole."
This is the part I like best; the part I identify with most:
KARR: Prayer lessens fear. It reduces self-consciousness, so I attend to the work and kind of forget myself. It’s strange, though—I know praying a steady hour a day would make me a happier human unit, but I don’t do it. Do you know why?
KARR: Me neither.
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