In this video, Miles Patterson shares his poem, “Stoned.”
In this video, Miles Patterson shares his poem “Candlelight.”
I hope none of you are here for answers. Authors are notoriously bad at answers. No, that’s not right. We’re not bad at them, we come up with answers all the time, but our answers tend to be unreliable, personal, anecdotal, and highly imaginative. These things can be drawbacks as far as answers go if you’re hoping to use our answers in your lives. But they are all good things, not drawbacks, when it comes to questions. Authors are good at posing questions, and our questions are often pretty solid. – Neil Gaiman
This video features the full presentation from The Question gathering in June.
E. L. Doctorow, the famous American author, was mentoring a young writer who was very interested in understanding the secret of Doctorow’s celebrated literary success. The renowned author shocked the student when he shared his fundamental process for writing. He said:
Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see down the road as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.
We navigate the questions of life just like a car navigates the road on a foggy night. Our exploration of those questions illuminates the path to unknown answers, just as headlights illuminate the road to an unknown destination.
It’s quite possible that in the last nine months of The Question, the only significant answers that we’ve discovered so far are:
- That the fog is really, really thick.
- That the destination is still very distant, and very unknown.
- That the drive itself is actually pretty interesting, even though you can’t really see where it may be leading. Perhaps that’s why it’s interesting.
The Question community is kind of like the car, and you and I together are driving the car, and we work the headlights.
This video features the full presentation from The Question gathering in May.
We are inundated, overwhelmed and irretrievably smitten by thoughts of love. We are made willing and vulnerable to the images, words, and expressions of love in popular media and the day to day culture that surrounds us. Movies, television, popular music, advertising, social media, food, sports, clothing, many popular and unpopular causes, and so many other things have all become a kind of subliminal programming in the modern culture of love.
Love really sells. Everything from diamonds to diapers to pizzas to pet food. More than anything, the material world has discovered something in us. It’s either a buried treasure or a ticking time bomb embedded deep in our personal foundations.
Regrettably, it’s an involuntary response, sometimes quietly seductive, sometimes intensely gratifying, and almost always a confirmation of one of our most powerful vulnerabilities. We are motivated by the possibilities and fantasies that are the promised rewards of the search for love.
We are surprised, even shocked sometimes, at the lengths to which we will go to experience what the modern culture of love promises us. On the one hand, we are made to think that the occurrence of love is so natural, so ordinary, so human that we merely need to exist and breathe to eventually claim the right to experience the feeling. So we wait in anticipation of that moment.
At the same time, we are made to believe that the occurrence of love is so special, so extraordinary, so beyond the reach of a mere human, that we must make an extraordinary effort to act, speak, look and consume in a certain way just to qualify for an experience of the feeling. So we feverishly search for that moment.
We are so driven, even desperate in our considerations of love that we have gradually widened but not necessarily deepened our definition of love.
Joanna Drummond’s “Shadow Song” is about times of difficulty.
Joanna Drummond’s “The Magician” was inspired by a guy who does magic tricks at a local Boston Pizza on a Thursday night. Joanna was watching the magician, and thought there was so much poetry in him, and she decided to write this song about him.
Singer/songwriter Joanna Drummond released an album called “Songs for Mother’s Day”, and it’s a collection about the experience of what it’s like to raise children. “4 AM Waking” is about the quintessential experience of motherhood, having your child wake you up in the middle of the night.
If love is indeed the greatest power on earth, or even the universe, we can’t be faulted for wanting to understand and experience such power. The entire history of mankind is a history of attempts to reach that understanding through simple formulas, quick judgments about what is and what is not love, and whether it’s the history of mankind or our own personal history, those simple formulas, though numerous and seductive, always fail to deliver in the face of new experience, knowledge or inspiration.
Love has been called the greatest power on earth. There are even some that call love the greatest power in the universe. If love is in fact the greatest anything, we do need to question whether or not we diminish love by simplifying it into a formula. We also need to question whether or not we are ourselves are diminished by that same process.
Many of us spend our entire lives trying to understand love from the inside of a formula, only to find out that new experience, new knowledge, new inspiration from outside of the formula renders that formula inadequate, baffling, or sometimes completely wrong.
You would think that new experience, knowledge and inspiration would encourage us to seek new understanding, but often we are just left broken, disillusioned and discouraged by the formulas of love. It speaks to the unique power of the world to control our understanding of love when we buy into the belief that we have failed, and not the formula.