Dec. 8, 2000
The Three Goals
Poem: “The Three Goals,” by David Budbill, from Moment to Moment: Poems of a Mountain Recluse (Copper Canyon Press).
The Three Goals
The first goal is to see the thing in itself
in and for itself, to see it simply and clearly
for what it is.
No symbolism, please.
The second goal is to see each individual thing
as unified, as one, with all the other
ten thousand things.
In this regard, a little wine helps a lot.
The third goal is to grasp the first and the second goals,
to see the universal in the particular,
Regarding this one, call me when you get it.
It's the birthday of novelist Mary Gordon, born on Long Island (1949). Her father had converted from Judaism to Catholicism, and her novels and short stories concern growing up Catholic in America. Her books include Final Payments (1978), The Rest of Life (3 novellas, 1993), Spending (1998), and a memoir, Seeing Through Places: Reflections on Geography and Identity (1999). Mary Gordon said,
"Even though life is quite a sad business, you can have a good time in the middle of it. I like to laugh, and I think the unsung, real literary geniuses of the world are people who write jokes. Both the Irish and Jews are very fatalistic, but they laugh a lot. Only the Protestants think that every day in every way, life is getting better and better. What do they know?"
It's the birthday of poet, story-writer and critic Delmore Schwartz, born in Brooklyn (1913). He found fame with his very first book, published when he was 26: In Dreams Begin Responsibilities, a collection of short stories and lyric poems. Brilliant but mentally unstable, Schwartz served as the model for the title character in Saul Bellows’ novel Humboldt's Gift (1975).
It's the birthday of novelist and playwright Richard Llewellyn, born in Pembrokeshire, Wales (1906). He’s best known for his novel How Green Was My Valley (1939).
It's the birthday of cartoonist Elsie Crisler Segar, the creator of "Popeye." He was born in Chester, Illinois (1894).
It's the birthday of humorist James Thurber, born in Columbus, Ohio (1894). In 1927 he met E.B. White at a party and talked his way onto the staff of The New Yorker. He created the classic daydreaming hero in his story "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" (1947), and ridiculed psychoanalysis in a book written with E.B. White, Is Sex Necessary? (1929). Thurber, who went blind in mid-life, recalled his New Yorker career in a memoir, The Years With Ross (1959). He also wrote the children's books The 13 Clocks (1950) and The Wonderful O (1957).
It's the birthday of novelist Hervey Allen, born in Pittsburgh (1889). He was the author of the historical novel Anthony Adverse (1933), set in Napoleonic Europe. The book included several passages that were more candid on sexual matters than the public was then accustomed to, and it became quite famous for this in the mid 30s.
On this day in 1886, the American Federation of Labor was founded at a convention of union leaders in Columbus, Ohio. Samuel Gompers served as the AFL's first President, and remained its leader until 1924. Gompers said: "The labor of a human being is not a commodity or article of commerce. You can't weigh the soul of a man with a bar of pig iron."
It's the birthday of Queen Christina of Sweden, born in Stockholm (1626). She abdicated her throne after 10 years, and moved to Rome to become a Catholic.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®