Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Creativity Is an American Value

J. Ruth Gendler is one of my favorite people. She's an artist with the soul of a poet. For years, I've turned to her Book of Qualities for comfort, inspiration, consolation. In this book, Gendler describes many qualities as if they were people, some of whom know each other. You should definitely click through on Atrios' link to Amazon and buy it, or make your local library get it for you. Here are a few of her shorter descriptions:


Patience: Patience wears my grandmother's filigree earrings. She bakes marvelous dark bread. She has beautiful hands. She carries great sacks of peace and purses filled with small treasures. You don't notice Patience right away in a crowd, but suddenly you see her all at once, and then she is so beautiful you wonder why you never saw her before.

Courage: Courage has roots. She sleeps on a futon on the floor and lives close to the ground. Courage looks you straight in the eye. She is not impressed with powertrippers, and she knows first aid. Courage is not afraid to weep and she is not afraid to pray, even when she is not sure who she is praying to. When Courage walks, it is clear that she has made the journey from loneliness to solitude. The people who told me she is stern were not lying; they just forgot to mention that she is kind.

Greed: Greed is lonely and impulsive. He eats his food quickly and can't remember what it tastes like. He wants to make things stand still so he can understand, but he is always running somewhere himself. He was very cold as a child, and he still fears that he will never be warm enough.

Greed is a tyrannical boss. He needs a reason for everything. He used to disguise his temper with a thin layer of politeness. Since he has become rich and famous, he doesn't bother with amenities. He masks his fear of women with contempt. He exports nightmares on the international commodities market, an advertising executive turned pornographer of the soul.

Honesty: Honesty is the most vulnerable man I have ever met. He is simple and loving. He lives in a small town on a cliff near the beach. I had forgotten how many stars there are in the midnight sky until I spent a week with him at his house by the sea.

In my time I have been afraid of so many things, most especially of the heights and of the darkness. I know if I had been driving anywhere else, the road would have terrified me. Knowing I was on my way to see him softened the fear. And in his presence the darkness becomes big and deep and comforting. He says if you are totally vulnerable, you cannot be hurt.


Treat this as an evening thread. Chat away, my sweet bitches!