The Prompter Room

For Friday, December 14, 2018:


The Tao Te Ching is partly in prose, partly in verse; but as we define poetry now, not by rhyme and meter but as a patterned intensity of language, the whole thing is poetry. I wanted to catch that poetry, its terse, strange beauty. Most translations have caught meanings in their net, but prosily, letting the beauty slip through. And in poetry, beauty is no ornament; it is the meaning. It is the truth.

Ursula K. Le Guin, A BOOK ABOUT THE WAY AND THE POWER OF THE WAY, on the legacy of Lao Tzu’s TAO TE CHING



The Prompter Room

For Tuesday, December 11, 2018:


Make your interests gradually wider and more impersonal, until bit by bit the walls of the ego recede, and your life becomes increasingly merged in the universal life.

Bertrand Russell, on ‘the key to growing old contentedly,’ quoted in BrainPickings by Maria Popova

The Prompter Room

For Friday, December 7, 2018:


It has frequently been remarked, about my own writings, that I emphasize the notion of attention. This began simply enough: to see that the way the flicker flies is greatly different from the way the swallow plays in the golden air of summer. It was my pleasure to notice such things, it was a good first step. But later, watching M. [Molly Malone Cook] when she was taking photographs, and watching her in the darkroom, and no less watching the intensity and openness with which she dealt with friends, and strangers too, taught me what real attention is about. Attention without feeling, I began to learn, is only a report. An openness — an empathy — was necessary if the attention was to matter … Then M. instilled in me this deeper level of looking and working, of seeing through the heavenly visibles to the heavenly invisibles …

Mary Oliver, OUR WORLD

The Prompter Room

For Monday, December 3, 2018 (a day earlier than the regular Tuesday post, due to a day-long medical appointment, and travel to and from, tomorrow):


You give too much, less would have been better; but that lies in the nature of heaven-scaling youth, which never thinks it possible to do enough. It is a fault maturer years will correct, however, and I still prefer a superfluity to a paucity of ideas.

Ludwig van Beethoven to young composer Johann Aloys Schlösser

The Prompter Room

For Friday, November 30, 2018:


Art can make a difference because it pulls people up short. It says, don’t accept things for their face value; you don’t have to go along with any of this; you can think for yourself.

Jeanette Winterson, in an interview with Canadian broadcaster Eleanor Wachtel later published in More Writers & Company: New Conversations with CBC Radio’s Eleanor Wachtel

The Prompter Room

For Tuesday, November 27, 2018:


Imperfection is in some sort essential to all that we know of life. It is the sign of life in a mortal body, that is to say, of a state of progress and change. Nothing that lives is, or can be, rigidly perfect; part of it is decaying, part nascent… And in all things that live there are certain irregularities and deficiencies which are not only signs of life, but sources of beauty … All admit irregularity as they imply change; and to banish imperfection is to destroy expression, to check exertion, to paralyze vitality. All things are literally better, lovelier, and more beloved for the imperfections which have been divinely appointed, that the law of human life may be Effort, and the law of human judgment, Mercy.


The Prompter Room

For Friday, November 23, 2018:


Scientists say we are made of stars, and I believe them, although my upper arms look like hell. Maybe someday the stars will reabsorb me. Maybe, as fundamentalist Christians have shared with me, I will rot in hell for all eternity, which I would hate, because I am very sensitive. Besides, I have known hell, and I have also known love. Love was bigger.



The Prompter Room

For Tuesday, November 20, 2018:


In indigenous ways of knowing, all beings are recognized as non-human persons, and all have their own names. It is a sign of respect to call a being by its name, and a sign of disrespect to ignore it. Words and names are the ways we humans build relationships, not only with each other, but also with plants …
Intimate connection allows recognition in an all-too-often anonymous world… Intimacy gives us a different way of seeing.


The Prompter Room

For Tuesday, November 13, 2018:


“A sparrow heard that the sky was falling and lay down on his back.  Along came one of the king’s horsemen.  He said, ‘Sparrow, there’s work to be done!  What are you doing?’  The sparrow said, ‘I heard the sky is falling, and I’m holding it up.’  The horseman was amused: ‘Do you really think you can hold up the sky with those little legs?’  And the sparrow said, ‘We do what we can.’

A parable told to actor F. Murray Abraham by his grandfather Murai, quoted in The AARP Magazine October/November 2018