Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists take the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting.
The quotes of Owen Meany throughout the book are written in ALL CAPS, which is an effective technique in print to encapsulate the character’s voice, attitude, and other deeper aspects of who Owen is. I’ve “translated” the CAPS into regular case letters so that it’s not as jarring when reading the excerpt. The Audible narrated version is perfectly done, too. I think he really captures such a unique character.
A Prayer for Owen Meany was a moving book in so many ways, but in an unexpected dimension, the political commentary (mostly against the Vietnam War) still rings so true for our contemporary situation.
“What’s wrong with this country?” he wrote. “There is such a stupid ‘get even’ mentality—there is such a sadistic anger.” He turned on the tv, keeping the volume off; when I woke up, much later, he was still writing in the diary and watching one of those television evangelists—without the sound. “It’s better when you don’t have to listen to what they’re saying,” he said.
In the diary, he wrote: “is this country just so huge that it needs to oversimplify everything? Look at the war: either we have a strategy to ‘win’ it, which makes us—in the world’s view—murderers; or else we are dying, without fighting to win. Look at what we call ‘Foreign Policy’: our ‘Foreign Policy’ is a euphemism for Public Relations, and our Public Relations get worse and worse. We’re being defeated and we’re not good losers.
“selling old Jesus-stories like junk food”
- “and look at what we call ‘Religion’: turn on any television on any Sunday morning! See the choirs of the poor and uneducated—and these terrible preachers, selling old Jesus-stories like junk food. Soon there’ll be an evangelist in the white house; soon there’ll be a cardinal on the Supreme Court. One day there will come an epidemic—I’ll bet on some humdinger of a sexual disease. And what will our peerless leaders, our heads of church and state … what will they say to us? How will they help us? You can be sure they won’t cure us—but how will they comfort us? Just turn on the tv—and here’s what our peerless leaders, our heads of church and state will say: they’ll say, ‘I told you so!’ They’ll say, ‘that’s what you get for fucking around—I told you not to do it until you got married.’ Doesn’t anyone see what these simpletons are up to? These self-righteous fanatics are not ‘religious’—their homey wisdom is not ‘morality.’
“What’s wrong with both of them is that they’re so sure they’re right!”
- “That is where this country is headed—it is headed toward oversimplification.You want to see a president of the future? Turn on any television on any Sunday morning—find one of those holy rollers: that’s him, that’s the new Mister President! And do you want to see the future of all those kids who are going to fall in the cracks of this great, big, sloppy society of ours? I just met him; he’s a tall, skinny, fifteen-year-old boy named ‘Dick.’ He’s pretty scary. what’s wrong with him is not unlike what’s wrong with the tv evangelist—our future president. What’s wrong with both of them is that they’re so sure they’re right! That’s pretty scary—the future, I think, is pretty scary.”
A Prayer for Owen Meany
by John Irving
Letters Podcast — Episode 02: Life
It has been a while but I finally got around to posting the second episode for my little side project!
In this episode, I received four letters in response to a letter of mine that was part statement and part question. Picking up where Habiba concluded the previous episode, I thought about the connection or disconnection of work and life. I asked Habiba to respond and invited three others to contribute their thoughts as well.
Note: This is episode will be released in two parts. In this first part, you’ll hear from Habiba and Mike. In Episode 02B, you’ll hear Nick and Crystal.
I just created a TinyLetter to dispense the occasional links I’m dying to share with other designers. For a while, it might exist as blog posts too. I might phase that out, though.
This first email is a bit of a story, and then some links. I promised links.
When I first thought about making this newsletter – still wondering if I’ll just make blog posts instead, I do hate email clutter – I had a bunch of great articles floating around my head that I wanted to share. Now I have no idea what those were, so I’m now getting lost in the blogosphere that, for 2016, is Medium.com.
I hate ending sentences with URLs.
What these Link Drops are for:
“Beginner’s Mind” comes from Buddhism, but I think it works just great for the attitude required when sharing information about any field of practice, especially design:
- It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would. [wiki]
I consider job experience as a vague measurement or ranking of how many mistakes you’ve made so far. In this light, I can never imagine experience as a limiting factor on learning – yes, even learning the same thing twice.
Great stuff on the internet is usually doing one of two things for me:
- Showing me something really different, or something ordinary in a different way
- Reflecting my own way of thinking about things
It’s healthy to get a mix of both. I know, the second one seems very insulating, but I have found that reading what a like-minded person writes gives you the benefit of learning how to better articulate your own thoughts.
Yeah, that would be super helpful. Left to my own devices, I will go down tangents about philosophy, freedom on the internet, and such. I’m going to try and stick to articles and resources for learning about design, and specifically about UX Design. If you really want to see “more like this” or “less of that” then feel free to reply directly to this. It goes to my inbox.
Link Drop #1
In my quest for links today I started digging through Medium and found one, two, three, whoa tons of great articles from UX Launchpad. So it’s safe to say that clicking any of those will be interesting and informative.
Start here! It looks like an article, but really it’s a video. This serious called “Design Explosions” takes a deep look at a finished product and breaks it down to see what’s going on. I appreciate the diagrams.
Craaaazy long, plenty of good diagrams though. Okay so this is a really long one and I don’t blame you if you can’t get through the whole thing in one sitting. What’s most important here is: there are multiple ways to design anything.
Oldie, but excellent. Another person’s idea of experience conveyed in squiggly line sketches.
Last week, Nico gave an excellent talk about how people perceive time/waiting. Here’s an article giving us a very tangible, and yes, monetary case for an efficient web”
- We wanted to understand how much the speed of our website affected user engagement, specifically, the quantity of articles read, one of our key measures of success. Using that data we then wanted to quantify the impact on our revenue.
I’ll finish off on a strong note. This hits both #1 (something new to me) and #2 (reflects a lot back at me).
For example: I’m a big fan of the progressive reveal strategy and that’s reflected in a lot of my designs. To each their own, but I enjoyed seeing another designer explain it.
Some of these were long articles talking about real world examples of a design process in action. I could also include some things in the genre of listicles, like Typography Tips for a Better User Experience, or just general repositories of info and tools. If that’s more your speed, let me know.