1970

My current Kindle for TouchPad reading includes Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970 by David Browne. As the title suggests, the author makes the case that 1970 was a pivotal year for these groups and for the society. 1970 was the year of the Kent State shootings and of the Manson trial.

The first half of 1970 I was a high school junior. In September of 1970 I started my senior year.

The summer between had a huge impact on my life. I attended the co-ed John Hay Summer Residential Institute hosted at Marks Hall, Claremont Men's (now McKenna) College in Claremont. I spent a month on the campus of the Claremont Colleges. The thirty or so of us read Ralph Ellison, D.H. Lawrence, Camus, Freud, and Malinowski. We went to classical music concerts and took up art projects. We visited the Honnold Library and the Huntley Bookstore.We ate our meals together in the dining hall and in general lived together for a month.

I discovered Pitzer College, where I applied, where I was admitted, and from where I graduated.

"And that," to quote Frost, "has made all the difference."

1970 was a life-changing year for me.


truth in nonfiction

  …there is a vast misunderstanding abroad about how to read a memoir. To state the case briefly:
memoirs belong to the category of literature, not of journalism. It is a misunderstanding to read a
memoir as though the writer owes the reader the same record of literal accuracy that is owed in
newspaper reporting or historical narrative. What is owed the reader of a memoir is the ability to
persuade that the narrator is trying, as honestly as possible, to get to the bottom of the tale at hand.

—one of the essays in Truth in Nonfiction edited by David Lazar

You know that this has rankled me. You know that I've said that I don't like it when memoirs and autobiographies take this approach. And you know that I have painfully accepted that this is reality.

Another essay in Lazar's collection discusses Lillian Hellman's Julia, which was published as memoir, but which everyone has long known to be strictly fiction.

On the other hand, a revisionist piece on Madeleine L'Engle in the New Yorker several years ago described how her kids didn't much mind her non-fiction, which, after all, was mostly about religion and spirituality, but allegedly couldn't stand her fiction because the personalities of the characters were too much like those in the family.

To look at memoir as literature rather than as journalism can perhaps be put into context by Karl Klaus in The Made-Up Self, where he reflects on a Joan Didion essay, suggesting that Didion chose to write "as if to suggest that the experience of seeking the truth might be as important as the truth itself. As if the question – and the inquiring mind working its way toward insight – might be as important as the answer."

That view reflects values I have held all of my adult life. Which makes the statement rather hard for me to argue with. And which, perhaps, circles back to the validity of the first quote.


Sunday worship

I wrote last week about how I skipped church so Terry and I could go to the ocean. We had a great time and it was exactly what we both needed.

At the same time, when I miss church I realize how important Sunday Eucharist is to me. Given how stressful my job has been recently, when the alarm went off on Sunday morning I was really tempted to pull the covers over my head and go back to sleep. But I knew what I had missed last week and I knew I needed it, so I pulled myself out of bed. I was glad I did.

In addition to the normal Eucharist of which I was delighted to be a part again, the fifth Sunday is always Youth Sunday at St. John the Divine. The St. John's youth always do a great job on those Sundays, and this Sunday's worship was especially delightful because it was a Beatles Mass.

It was good to be there.