Please read this important reminder by writer Dani Shapiro about spending time with “the private heart”…and then step away from Facebook and Twitter and the internet for a little while (I mean after reading the rest of this post):
“The secret contemplative self. The private heart. The very phrases bring tears to my eyes. I don't know about you, but for most of us, our daily lives take us farther and farther away from that secret self, that private heart. A paradox central to most writers lives is that so often we spend our days not writing, not reading, not in the silence in which the secret contemplative self thrives, but rather, speaking, tweeting, traveling, facebooking, trolling the internet...doing, rather than being.”
If you’re unconvinced by Dani Shapiro’s piece, read this short piece from the New York Times Magazine, by Larry Carlat, who became obsessed with Twitter, letting his obsession Twitter run his life:
“Soon my entire life revolved around tweeting. I stopped reading, rarely listened to music or watched TV. When I was out with friends, I would duck into the bathroom with my iPhone. I tweeted while driving, between sets of tennis, even at the movies. (“I love holding your hand in the dark.”) When I wasn’t on Twitter, I would compose faux aphorisms that I might use later. I began to talk that way too. I sounded like a cross between a Barbara Kruger installation and a fortune cookie. I posted every hour on the hour, day and night, using a Web site that enabled me to tweet while asleep.”
Finally, read something to restore your faith in art and language: New on Redux today: “Driving in Snow” by Joseph M. Schuster, a story that previously appeared in New Virginia Review.
“When Byrne's brother arrives, Byrne doesn't recognize him. At first, watching the passengers emerge from the gate, he wonders if Thomas missed the bus, or decided not to get on board. But not even Thomas is that irresponsible. Byrne must have overlooked him. Thomas is, after all, not a large man, and the station is in turmoil. An early spring blizzard has moved in, making buses late. Byrne has been waiting for an hour and a half in the midst of the lines of angry passengers, the masses of people planted on upturned luggage because there aren't enough benches.
“He is shoving toward the ticket counter to ask if a second bus is due from St. Louis when he spots Thomas, standing a few feet inside the gate. He was one of the first passengers off the bus, Byrne realizes, but it's no wonder he didn't recognize him. In his uniform, Thomas looks like a different person, with the starched creases in his trousers and the black necktie just visible at the collar of his coat. Byrne is amazed at the transformation. His brother seems innocent and young, like someone playing soldier. It's the short hair, he realizes. The long hair Thomas had before he enlisted hid his face, as did the blond wisps of the beard he tried to grow. Now that face seems exposed, naked. Byrne is reminded of the schoolboy in the pictures his mother had on her bureau at the nursing home. Thomas in the second and third grades; Thomas before he turned bad.
Byrne raises his hand to wave but sees that his brother isn't alone. A woman cradling an infant is talking to him, her mouth close to Thomas's ear. Byrne lets his hand fall. Thomas hasn't said anything about a woman, and the circumstance of the visit -- their mother's funeral -- is hardly social.”
(Okay, it’s now safe to disable your internet connection.)