Are Human Beings Unique or Not?

I recently took a leadership class that talked about ethics. The instructor said something interesting:

Humans are the only animals that rationalize behavior we know is wrong.

I think that’s correct—but I would add the caveat: “The only animals that we know of…”

When I was a kid, people still preached the idea of Man the Rational Animal. The persistent Enlightenment belief that what distinguishes us from other animals is our ability to reason.

Even as a kid, I knew this was a load of crap.

Continue reading “Are Human Beings Unique or Not?”

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Libraries: Everything to Everyone?

Or Jack of All Trades but Master of None?

Justin Hoenke recently voiced the argument that public librarians need to be “everything to every community member.” This argument unleashed a lot of push back from librarians. Stephanie Chase posted a tweet thread in response to the push back and it’s worth reading.

Her essential argument responds to librarians who, as she perceives, don’t want libraries to be different than what they were in our romanticized youths.

She states:

HARD FACTS TIME: THE LIBRARY OF YOUR YOUTH DOESN’T EXIST ANYMORE.

I agree with this 100%. There are librarians who resist change because they don’t want the library to evolve. That’s a real problem. She also links to a recent LitHub article, “Stop. The library isn’t your private, childhood memory palace.” I love this article and I agree with it 100%. I tweeted it out myself when it was first posted online.

I came to libraries because they’re so adaptable. Because I’m excited to serve my community in a time of tremendous change. Because I relish the challenge of figuring out how to respond to changing needs and demographics. In his book, Part of Our Lives: A People’s History of the American Public Library, Wayne Wiegand points out public libraries have always adapted to changing needs and circumstances. There’s always been resistance to change, both internal and external. This is all to be expected.

Libraries should never be static entities—we need to be adaptable. The core of what we do is timeless—access, information, self-directed learning, self-directed entertainment—but of course our communities’ needs will change, and even the timeless needs will manifest differently, and technology will continue to alter how we access and consume information, sometimes in radical ways. This is good and healthy and exciting.

But I can’t completely agree that librarians need to be all things for all people. It’s not for the reasons Ms. Chase thinks. It starts with the following statement from her tweet thread:

Continue reading “Libraries: Everything to Everyone?”

NaPoWriMo 2019: Reflections

I did it. 30 poems in 30 days. * It’s the most I’ve ever written in one stretch in my life. I didn’t write one poem per day—there were some days I wrote nothing and some days I wrote more than one—and I posted a couple out of order. But I wrote 30 poems in the month of April and each one was in response to the suggested prompts from NaPoWriMo.net.

I think some of what I wrote was pretty good. Some are clearly dead in the water. Most are somewhere in the middle—the seed of an idea, good to just have something written. The only one I think is really finished is the minimalist poem I wrote for the last day.

At this point, I should turn to revision. Work on the ones I think have potential, scuplt and polish them. But I won’t. I just don’t have the desire to do that work. I take satisfaction in the act of creating a poem but the work of finishing it isn’t something I find rewarding.

So I leave behind a scattered trail of creative but unfinished pieces. I’d say that’s lazy of me but it’s never been my intention to publish, so that’s OK.

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NaPoWriMo 2019: Day 29

Today’s prompt: “a poem that meditates, from a position of tranquility, on an emotion you have felt powerfully.” (http://www.napowrimo.net/day-twenty-nine-5/)

Memory of Feeling

I remember the feeling.

I remember:
the sharp inhale,
the racing pulse,
the nervous sweat,
the stuttering tongue,
the locked muscles,
pounding pulse in my ears.

I suppose you would call it fear.
Or awe. Or desire.
All this, muddled and inextricable,
blended to create something
extraordinary.

The physiology of ecstasy.

I have an image, clear and certain,
standing before you,
naked for the first time,
my first sight of you:
breast,
hip,
the hollow of your collar bone,
ragged fingernails bitten to the quick,
legs open,
wanting.

How we wanted!

My eyes darting here,
then there,
nervously sliding across the landscape
of your body,
not knowing where to rest.

This moment, even more
than what came after
(rapture! wonder!)
etched the experience into
my bones.

I picture you now,
again, and I remember
the feeling.

NaPoWriMo 2019: Day 27

Today’s prompt: “‘remix’ a Shakespearean sonnet.” (http://www.napowrimo.net/day-twenty-seven-5/)

Sonnet 130: Remix

Sure, she ain’t no beauty:
some may say she’s ugly,
or to be more kind,
she’s plain. But, oh, her mind!

Her hair is just hair,
never silken thread there.
Her breath stinks, her eyes
are dull, but seriously, you guys?

She’s amazeballs! So she’s brash
and loud, and her ‘stach
needs to be shaved every week,
and her knobbly joints creek.

She’s as perfect for me
As ever someone could be.

Continue reading “NaPoWriMo 2019: Day 27”

NaPoWriMo 2019: Day 28

Today’s prompt: “try your hand at a meta-poem.” (http://www.napowrimo.net/day-twenty-eight-5/)

This Is Not a Poem

These are not letters
Strung along the page
Communal symbols of sounds

These are not words
Laid out in sequence
Carrying no true meaning

These are not lines
Stacked one atop another
In a stylized cascade

These are not stanzas
Grouping thoughts together
Creating no true structure

This is not a poem
Without structure
Without meaning