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  • mono 8:03 pm on October 14, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Arts, , , , David Thoreau, Henry David Thoreau, , , , , Organizations, , , Thinking, Walden,   

    Five Quotations for Your Learning Pleasure (Selected by Your Humble Editor on a Rainy Tuesday Evening) 

    You will see throughout this blog, quotations from a handful of thinkers that I admire and learn from. The following are five selected quotations for your learning pleasure.

    Perhaps, one or more of these quotations will help you along with your day or stick with you and re-emerge when the time is right or ripe. More importantly, though, I hope that you will use these words and do something with them. That is, these quotations are seedlings, waiting to be realized by the right person. I don’t know how you will interpret them or what you will do with them. That depends on you and where you are “coming from” with your ways of how you have become mindful of the world. Thank you for your attention.


    “Taking charge of your own learning is a part of taking charge of your life, which is the sine qua non in becoming an integrated person” – Warren Bennis from On Becoming a Leader

    “Live your life skillfully, with grace.
    Dance life so that your expertise appears effortless.
    To develop such skill, immerse yourself in life.
    Pay attention to life’s details.
    Then see how the details fit together as a whole.
    Then put your experiential understanding into further practice.
    Keep upgrading your life.” – David K. Reynolds from Reflections on the Chuang Tzu

    “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett from Westward Ho

    “The ideal personality for the opening age is a balanced personality: not the specialist but the whole man. Such a personality must be in dynamic interaction with every part of his environment and every part of his heritage.” – Lewis Mumford from The Condition of Man

    “We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. Every man is tasked to make his life, even in its details, worthy of the contemplation of his most elevated and critical hour.” – Henry David Thoreau from Walden and Civil Disobedience

    For more information on the authors quoted here, please visit:

    David K. Reynolds: Reflections on the Chuang Tzu
    Warren Bennis’s Qualities of a Leader
    Samuel Beckett On-line Resources
    Lewis Mumford: Megathinker and Master of the Metaphor
    Henry David Thoreau: American Transcendentalism Web

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  • mono 12:09 pm on October 13, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Arts, , Change, David Garnett, , fox, Lady into Fox, , , McSweeneys, , Shapeshifting, Thoughts, , woman   

    Lady into Fox by David Garnett: Thoughts for Consideration 

    David Garnett

    David Garnett’s 1922 novel, reprinted by McSweeney’s, Lady into Fox is the tale of a one Mr. Tebrick, who, upon out walking with his wife one day, finds to his surprise, that she has transformed into an animal, a fox. From this, we follow Mr. Tebrick as he struggles to preserve (keep) the humanity of his wife, in spite of her beastly transformation. At first, he insists on her being clothed, eating cooked meat and holds on to the “human” image of her. Sadly, day-by-day, his image of her changes as her personality gradually slips away. She becomes more and more “animal-like” with each passing day.

    Through this touchingly dark novel, we see Mr. Tebrick, himself, losing touch will other people and with his former life. His love for his wife, even in “fox” form, is deep and enduring, although, perhaps harmful to himself. Nonetheless, in this act of clinging to her – in her animality – he loses touch with the social world, with the world of other people. Does he do this for love or out of sheer confusion?

    In his struggling acceptance of her as she struggles to break free of his controlling grip, he becomes obsessed with her, fearing for her life amidst the elements. He is not willing to fully accept her as being a “fox.” Finally, and without giving away much of the story, we find him living his life through her, unable to give up his love or hope, unwilling to wholly accept this strange transformation that has so altered his life.

    Through the frame of this story, I think about the idea of love and change. Sometimes the one we love, changes, or we ourselves greatly change. When this change occurs, do we accept the other person in their newness or do we see them through the past image that we have of them? What do we give up in trying to cling to a love that has fallen out of our hands? Sometimes, perhaps, the line between love and obsession becomes blurred when we try to form the loved one to fit our image of how we think that they should be. Or, is it more worthy to love and continue loving despite a great change in appearance or personality? What would you do if the one that you loved suddenly, and without warning, transformed before your very eyes into a wholly different form? How would you approach and live through that love?

  • mono 3:26 pm on October 12, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: American philosopher, Arts, , , John Dewey, , , volunteer,   

    John Dewey on “Work” 

    The work that you do, whether as a paying job, volunteer work or as study, hobby or vocation is a way of generating, maintaining and creating meaning in your life. How much effort and involvement do you give to the work that you do? Is the work that you are doing, satisfying you? How do you approach the task of work? How do you better yourself by the work that you do?

    John Dewey, in his book, Art as Experience, reminds us, “The intelligent mechanic engaged in his job, interested in doing well and finding satisfaction in his handiwork, caring for his materials and tools with genuine affection, is artistically engaged. (5)”

    What Dewey’s quotation gives us, is that, it is not necessarily the kind of job that you do, but how you do the job that you do. The worker who is drowning in a desk of “to-do” lists, which keep piling up, seemingly out of control, has a much different experience from the worker who carefully (with care) uses the tasks of the day to better the life of him/herself and the life of the organization in doing what needs to be done and acting through the purpose of the moment.

    Losing yourself in a meaningful task is an artistic experience, a kind of dance with life and your engagement with it. Realize reality in the most beautiful and humanizing ways.

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  • mono 9:34 am on October 12, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Arts, box, chiba, , , , , rei kawakubo   


    comme des garcons

    I found this Comme Des Garcons box discarded on the sidewalk on yesterday’s late-night stroll through the streets of a city in Chiba. Sadly, no clothes inside. Comme Des Garcon’s founder and leader is Rei Kawakubo, who, instead of studying fashion, studied philosophy and literature.

    More about Rei Kawakubo and CDG:

    Rei Kawakubo

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    • antigenre 10:59 am on October 12, 2008 Permalink

      Too bad the box was empty! I’m a big fan of Rei Kawakubo’s fashions. What city in Chiba (I lived in Narashino for several years)?

    • jgrefe 3:29 pm on October 12, 2008 Permalink

      Thank you for the comment, antigenre. You have a very nice blog. I found the box in Kashiwa city. I have never been to Narashino. Indeed – it is a pity that the box was empty!

  • mono 9:53 pm on October 10, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Arts, , , , , , ,   

    Actualizing (A Constructive Living Approach) 

    In his book Reality’s Reminders, Dr. David K. Reynolds reminds us, ” For all your hopes and dreams your life now is as it is. Reality responds to what you do and not to what you think or hope or dream. Actualizing involves action.” What this means to me is that goals become actualized through action. That is, Reality responds through your active participation. How often do we map out a plan and fail to enact it? Or, how is what we are doing right now moving us toward our goals, toward where we want to go?

    As you read this blog, you could be doing any number of things, but you aren’t – you’re reading this blog. Is reading this blog moving you toward where you need to go in your life? If so, please, keep reading. If not, please get on with doing what you need to do. Too much excess information in your life may overwhelm you to the point of becoming more and more lost in a spiral of overloaded inactivity. You are where you are with help received from a multitude of people and through actions that you have undertaken and solidified. All of the movements and decisions, ever-renewing support and connectedness, have brought you to the reading of this article. Thank you for helping realize this article! Welcome.

    Sometimes, doing what you need to do is not the same as doing what you have already done. That is, doing what you need to do may involve doing what you have never yet tried. Try doing something new and see the “you” change into a new “you.” A simple example may be, if you are confused about which restaurant to go to on a Friday night, step back and open your cupboards. Look at all of the food that you bought but have not yet eaten, food that you may end up throwing away because you failed to cook when you told yourself you were going to cook. Make something you have never made before. You were surrounded by food the whole time, but where was the “meal” before you cooked it?

    Learn to see and understand your habits, your ways of doing things and thinking about things. For most of us, what we do is not all that we would do, but simply, what we can do, moment to moment. A repetitive job that doesn’t fit your imagined dream doesn’t leave much room for taking action during the day. Don’t waste the time that you do have to do something about your situation. Align yourself through action and active involvement in your situation and enact the goals that you have created. Thinking is important, but I can’t know what you are thinking unless you express them to me in some way that is intelligible to me. That expression is an action.

    No matter what you do, Reality will respond. It can’t not respond. Sitting on the sofa watching TV may create more “TV watching” moments, as you find yourself caught up in the re-occurring warmth of familiar actions. But, ask yourself, “Is this moving me toward where I want to go? Is this the actualization that I want to actualize?”

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    • Jeff Jefferson 4:37 pm on January 26, 2009 Permalink


      I just wanted to thank you for posting this article, as well as your link to contructiveliving.com and http://www.constructiveliving.com/CL1.html in particular. It helped me quite a bit today and, hopefully, will continue to help me in the future.

  • mono 7:54 pm on October 8, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Arts, Author, , , , , , , ,   

    A Book Before Bedtime (Six Aphorisms for Contemplation) 

    THE RABBIT HOLE: Reading is a collaboration between author and reader, the shared creation of another world – a world that could be, but isn’t.

    THE MELDING VOICE: The more time we spend with those authors, the more they penetrate us and we end up finding their voices among our own voice.

    INFILTRATION: Reading a book on a place I have never been while, simultaneously, fraught with the irrevocable influence that is occurring, with my permission.

    HAVEN’T WE MET?: With each page turned, I create a new and ever-evolving image of the author – a relationship with a ghost!

    MORPHOLOGY: Sometimes, I fail to envision the facial details of the main character, yet he spins around me with more reality than a “real” person. Then, suddenly, his face warps into a thousand faces, renewing themselves upon each new read.

    WHERE AM “I”?: Re-reading a book is necessary for me. Each time upon entering the text, without fail, a new thought emerges, a new reconfiguration of “me” takes form.

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  • mono 8:54 am on October 5, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Arts, , , , , Gary Kamiya, , , , , , , Tree of Smoke: A Novel   

    Denis Johnson: Two More Audio Pieces (Readings + Conversation) 

    Two more Denis Johnson audio pieces have come to my attention.

    1. The first, readings from The Incognito Lounge, Jesus’ Son, and more, was generously introduced to me by the artist behind the website, Horse of Bone. It is an hour long reading well worth listening to. The audio file can be found by following this link:

    A Beautiful Magical Hour of Denis Johnson

    2. The second, I found simply by searching via Yahoo. It is an hour and twenty minute reading/conversation with Denis Johnson. The reading is a long excerpt from Johnson’s magnum opus, “Tree of Smoke,” read by Johnson himself. This is followed by a conversation between Johnson and executive editor and founder of Salon.com magazine, Gary Kamiya. The conversation, in particular, is insightful as they discuss the craft of writing, the success of Jesus’ Son, influences and much more.
    The audio file can be found here:

    Lannan Foundation: Readings and Conversations – Denis Johnson

    Thank you and enjoy.

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    • maudkristina 12:02 am on October 6, 2008 Permalink

      In the spirit of synchronicity we both found the second link on the same day – I was just going to send it to you. Thanks for the kind comment and the link-back! Have a wonderful day. M :)

    • jgrefe 7:53 pm on October 6, 2008 Permalink

      Thank you again, too, for the initial spur into action that set this in motion. The piece you provided and the reading/conversation are both great treasures. Keep an ear to the ground and keep in touch. J.

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