In training to be a hedgehog
There is a line among the fragments of the Greek poet Archilochus which says: 'The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing'. -- Isaiah Berlin, The Hedgehog and the Fox

It goes completely contrary to my nature, but I am trying hard to become a hedgehog -- at least for a while. The one big thing right now is the book on the history of Latin American architecture and urbanism. Which of course is part of an even bigger thing, my career. Except, fox-like, I've never settled exactly on what my career was -- pursuing "many ends, often unrelated and even contradictory, connected, if at all, only in some de facto way, for some psychological or physiological cause, related by no moral or aesthetic principle," as Berlin describes us. But I'll try to be at least a temporary hedgehog, pretending to ignore all those other many ends -- fiction-writing, news commentary, social activism, etc. -- at least for the duration, until I get this draft done. I've managed to do something like that a few times before; it never lasts, but it does get a specific job done. I may sneak out of my hedge now and then to write something on this blog -- it's hard to control myself -- but I'm going to make an effort to just let those little inspirations go.

There are those who think I already have too many animals in my editorial team. Those are the people who have forgotten to think like children. Such a shame.

Portrait of a hedgehog


More satire from Don Monkerud
Oddly enough, the editors at The Pedestal call this nonfiction. Maybe they're right. Republican Women to Polish Their Image.
VP debate: Who loses?
OK, since we can't avoid the spin, I'll throw my slight weight into the machine. I got a message from Joe Lockhart (your probably did, too), and I tried to do what he said: Vote for Edwards as debate winner in every available poll. Turned out to be too much of a time-waster; AOL and MSNBC polls were easy to get to (AOL had Cheney ahead slightly, MSNBC put Edwards way ahead by about 60%, so what does that prove?). Alas, the other poll sites are buried behind many other pages and some (WSJ, at least) require a subscription. But dammit, this isn't a sports contest! Regardless of who had the better rhetoric or the nicer scowl, we, the people of the U.S. and the people of Iraq and the people of the world, are losing with every day of this mindless attempt to solve political and social problems with military might.


About me
This blog was not supposed to be about me, but today's entry is different. My idea up to now has been to use the blog to comment about events and ideas that I thought would be of general interest. In fact, what I was trying to do was write a kind of column, like a newspaper column, of news & literary commentary.

And what was the point of that, a kind of pretend column? Hardly anybody sees things here, and I've done almost nothing to promote viewership. And of course nobody pays me. The reason was in part, just to see if I could do it, that is, write interesting little essays regularly. And the other part was that this was the safest way -- no possible rejection by editors. Maybe (I tried to convince myself) I would eventually draw so many readers that ... What? Somebody would pay me to advertise? Editors would be clamoring for my work? Whatever. I didn't explore that fantasy to its logical conclusions, because I didn't really believe it. Then, after trying to make intelligent comments on various Spanish topics while we were in Spain this summer, I let my blog fall silent. And I've been thinking, about the blog and about all my writing. And it's time for a shift.

Today I'm using the blog just to sort out my own thoughts. And what I'm thinking is, first, yes, I have proven to myself that I can write little essays on politics and/or literature, and do it frequently. Second, it's ridiculous to avoid editors. I'm ready to face the inevitable rejections ("Thank you, but it's too close to something else we're publishing," or simply "Sorry, but not appropriate for our needs," or -- most irritating of all -- utter silence). I am giving myself permission to send the stuff out. No, more than that, I am giving myself the assignment. And I'm confident that, if I play this smart, it won't all be rejection.

If you've checked into this space before, you may be familiar with our editorial team. Bear has just been appointed assignments editor. As for the blog, maybe I'll use it for more personal commentary, and maybe for notes on the pieces I'm sending out. So, I hope you will be seeing my byline more frequently elsewhere. (To see where it has appeared in the past, check out my c.v.) And if you want to drop by here now and then, welcome! (And thanks to Diane Patrick for helping me see some obvious things.)