Jul. 26, 2005
What We Need
Poem: "What We Need" by David Budbill, from While We've Still Got Feet. © Copper Canyon Press. Reprinted with permission.
What We Need
terrorize the world
which is why
a little poem
a small song
a brief moment
Literary and Historical Notes:
It's the birthday of humorist Jean Shepherd, born in Chicago (1925). He grew up in Indiana. He's remembered for the autobiographical stories he told on the radio about a boy named Ralph Parker growing up in Hohman, Indiana. One of the stories was made into the movie A Christmas Story, which came out in 1983, about a boy who wants a BB gun for Christmas, although all the adults say that he'll shoot his eye out.
The stories that he told on the air were improvised. He wrote them down, published them in collections such as In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash and Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories and Other Disasters. He told stories about the Midwest, which he called "that great inverted bowl of darkness."
In one of his stories, he remembered walking to school with a group of kids in the winter. He said, "Kids plodded ... through forty-five-mile-an-hour gales, tilting forward like tiny furred radiator ornaments, moving stiffly over the barren clattering ground with only the faint glint of two eyes peering out of a mound of moving clothing ... All were painfully plodding toward the Warren G. Harding School, miles away over the tundra [so they could learn] geography lessons involving the exports of Peru."
It's the birthday of the writer Aldous Huxley, born in Surrey, England (1894), best known as the author of the novel Brave New World, about a future in which genetically engineered people take drugs to keep them happy, have sex all the time, and never fall in love.
It's the birthday of the playwright George Bernard Shaw, born in Dublin (1856). He got into politics in his 20s as a socialist. He wrote his first play Widowers' Houses, about the evils of slumlords.
He made a lot of people angry, but he revolutionized theater in England by writing plays about ideas when everyone else was writing sentimental melodramas. His most famous play was Pygmalion, about a cockney girl who learns to pass as a lady, which became the basis for the musical My Fair Lady.
It was George Bernard Shaw who said, "Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children."
It's the birthday of Carl Jung, born in Kesswil, Switzerland (1875). He was the founder of analytic psychology, the man who noticed that myths and fairytales from all different cultures had certain similarities which he called archetypes. He believed the archetypes come from a collective unconscious that is shared by all humans.
Carl Jung said, "Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you."
It was on this day in 1942, William Faulkner took a job writing with Warner Brothers pictures in Hollywood. He did it because he needed the money. His first few novels had gotten good reviews but hadn't sold very well, so he tried to write something that he thought would appeal to the public. He wrote Sanctuary, about a bootlegger who kidnaps a college girl, which became his first best-seller, but there was a delay in the payment of royalties. So Faulkner went to Hollywood where he worked on films such as The Big Sleep and To Have and Have Not and he was very grateful to finally get back to Oxford, Mississippi
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