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At 317am, Time to Dim the Lights

image of barack obama raising a glass of beer

Today’s post–and trust me, it was no easy call–is my last for 317am.  It’s the last for any of us—whether Kaze, Ras, or Ted the Cat—till  who knows when.  We may be back someday, but we just don’t know.

On the other hand, Ras and I both know–and you know–that we don’t really get to decide whether we’ll write or not.  Of course we’ll be writing, just other stuff.  I’ve got this novel-in-progress you’ve been hearing about for awhile, a writing project so protracted that it’s threatening to become a lifestyle.  I just have to get serious. And Ras, as he explained in his valedictory yesterday, has his own literary longings.  Gottawrite syndrome is what got into this, and if that’s your personal affliction, then you’ll be writing till you’re dead, or close to it.

So I’ll be working on something, shall we say, weightier. But I am going to miss writing material to appear under that Read more »

Keep Smiling Through

Photo of Slim Pickens riding bomb in Dr. Strangelove

Here’s the big news this week, gang: 317am will go on an indefinite hiatus after Kaze’s valedictory post tomorrow. Call it a sabbatical, call it a vacation, call it what Mark Twain would call an extended period of letting the tank full up.  No fresh posts are planned – though the 317am archive will stay live online, a free resource for desperate term-paper writers the world over. Read more »

Go Ahead Bird, Go Ahead and Sing

image of Ted the Cat at the window

Spring has officially sprung around here and on the lawn the robins hunt worms.  The sight of the first robins has been positively mesmerizing to our Ted for many an April morning going on 18 years.  These days I have to lift him to the window to give him a better view through the screen.  “Ted,” I asked the other day.  “You seem less inclined to give the redbreasts that fierce carnivorous stare.  What’s up, buddy?  Do you no longer hear the call of the wild?”  But Ted, ever alert to even the gentlest mockery, cast upon me a look of somewhat aloof derision and hopped down to the floor.  Later, I found the following on the monitor upstairs. Read more »

Take Back Your Fingertips: The Seven Habits of Web-Balanced People

Photo close-up of bees in hive.

Yesterday’s post on MIT thinker Sherry Turkle’s warnings about the perils of over-connectivity got me to thinking about a fundamental question. How do you limit usage of social media, smart phones, and the Internet generally in ways that enable you to extract the benefits of the new media without turning into a junkie of constant connection? Is it even possible these days to live outside the hive mind? Read more »

Connectivity and Its Discontents

Photo of Sherry Turkle with "sociable robot" named Cog.

I’ve borrowed the title for this post from a clever line in Sherry Turkle’s 2011 book Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. Turkle, a clinical psychologist who is director of MIT’s Initiative on Technology and Self, has of course been paying a little attention to the great Dr. Freud. Read more »

The Man Who Knew Everyone

image of painting of Count Harry Kessler by Edvard Munch

The most interesting thing I’ve read this week was an article in the New Yorker called “Diary of an Aesthete,” by Alex Ross.  It’s about Count Harry Kessler, who, in 1868 “was born in Paris, the son of a wealthy Hamburg banker and an artistically inclined Anglo-Irish salonnière.”

Kessler grew up a cosmopolitan—diplomat, writer, man of the arts.  He was a prodigious keeper of diaries—diaries of the sort that, when discovered decades later as Kessler’s were in a safe on the island of Mallorca, have the same effect on the imagination as a chest of gold doubloons.  Ross says that Kessler’s diaries—recently published in English under the title Journey to the Abyss:  The Diaries of Count Harry Kessler, 1880-1918—constitute “a document of novelistic breadth and depth, showing the spiritual development of a lavishly cultured man who grapples with the violent energies of the twentieth century.”  They are nothing less, Ross concludes, than “the supreme memoir of the grand European fin de siècle.”

Truth to tell, the reason I’m telling you all this is merely Read more »

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