The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘self-help’

The Fitzgerald-Wodehouse Friendship, and Other News

January 7, 2013 | by

  • Robert McCrum: “In the department of lost meetings, one near-miss that’s always fascinated me is the on-off friendship between F. Scott Fitzgerald and P. G. Wodehouse, both of whom came to prominence in America at the end of the Great War.”
  • And so it begins: hot on the heels of best-of 2012, The Millions brings us the most anticipated reads of 2013.
  • New York digests the latest in self-help (or, as Barnes & Noble would have it, self-improvement) so you don't have to.
  • Can we separate the work of Ted and Sylvia from the myth?
  • One author dishes the dirt on publishing a book.

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    I Opened the Door

    November 16, 2012 | by

    At last I had begun writing my long-planned book about Captain Ahab’s doomed enterprise in Moby-Dick—about Robur’s doomed enterprise in Verne’s Maître du Monde—about the doomed enterprise of Doctor Hans Reinhardt from the 1979 science-fiction film The Black Hole.

    Eleven thousand words in, and may God grant that I learn it sooner next time or else not at all, I understood with blinding clarity that my book itself was another doomed enterprise.

    As Don Quixote said: y yo hasta agora no sé lo que conquisto a fuerza de mis trabajos—I do not even know what I am conquering.

    “Master of the world”! Robur-le-Conquérant!—what a delusion! what a farce! The quintessence of megalomania: Richard Wagner named his dog Robur.

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    A Routine Matter

    March 15, 2012 | by

    Benjamin Franklin's daily schedule.

    I recently turned thirty, the age by which, according to William James, “the character has set like plaster, and will never soften again.” But he wrote that in 1890, before mobile devices and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and Lana Del Rey and the fragmentation of the self, and I’m happy to report that my character is as soft as unhandled Play-Doh. For the past year I’ve slept mostly in well-worn twin beds generously provided by writing colonies, my life a new kind of nomadism made possible by America’s patrons of the arts. Every morning I get up at seven, or seven thirty, or eight, or eleven, and record my dreams, or forget them, then make my bed, or not, after which I proceed immediately to take a shower, or start the coffee, or eat breakfast, or go for a walk, then sit down at my desk to begin the day’s work, or write e-mails, or stare out the window, or do absolutely anything else. I usually end my day by reading a book, or talking on the phone, or watching basketball highlights on ESPN.com, or wondering why I keep the channel on Jimmy Fallon when every instance of empty enthusiasm makes me loathe him a little more.

    William James again: “There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision, and for whom the lighting of every cigar, the drinking of every cup, the time of rising and going to bed every day, and the beginning of every bit of work, are subjects of express volitional deliberation. Full half the time of such a man goes to the deciding, or regretting, of matters which ought to be so ingrained in him as practically not to exist for his consciousness at all. If there be such daily duties not yet ingrained in any one of my readers, let him begin this very hour to set the matter right.” This very hour.

    Habits are for squares, is what I’ve always felt. Read More »

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