Monthly Archives: September 2012

M Is for Meme


Meme can be defined as “an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture”—a unit of cultural transmission, or perhaps one of repetition or imitation.

According to Cecil Adams of, the concept of memes “is either really deep, or really, really obvious.”

A politician’s gaffe, a viral video, a popular hashtag, a cute shared photo can now with the speed of light become a meme via the internet.

I have yet to have any quote or tweet of mine become a meme—and usually I am quoting someone else, anyway, as in my “Reasons for Living” tweets.

Nevertheless, I enjoy sharing what I feel are significant points that can be picked from well-written articles and books that come into my life. It is a challenge to condense and convey them in a way that does not oversimplify or distort, while piquing interest—and perhaps leading someone to check out the source.

Recent tweets I’ve posted that I would love to become memes are:

All authentic moral action results from opening to the higher forces within and above the individual self. —Jacob Needleman in A Little Book on Love.

The universe seemed sometimes to relax a little, to permit a little grace to be wrung from it. —Charles Williams in War in Heaven. 

The wise remain silent until the right moment, but a boasting fool misses the right moment (Sirach 20:1).

No conscious act is ever wasted. Pure acts of compassion or attention always affect something at the planetary level. —Cynthia Bourgeault in Mystical Hope.

Our creative struggle, our search for wisdom and truth, is a love story. —Iris Murdoch.

The unity that occupied Bede Griffiths’ thinking and energized his ministry—what the mystics of all religions have known and shared: The unity of the opened heart.

Classics are books that exert a peculiar influence, both when they refuse to be eradicated from the mind and when they conceal themselves in the folds of memory. —Italo Calvino.

Say with each breath “Make me humbler, make me humbler.” When you are small as an atom you will know his glory. —Rumi.

Beauty bears repeating twice and thrice. —Erasmus.

What I call the aerial instinct—the drive to transcend our present condition—is the defining characteristic of a human being. —Sam Keen.

I guess I’d never make it as a bumper sticker creator—but the stretching of language and conceptualization of thought in these “units” of meaning satisfies me and keeps me hungry for further ways to send out memes like messages in a bottle.

How great it is to find that occasionally someone picks one up and then tells me so.

Dear Miss Marple 3


Dear Miss Marple,

We love how you use the wisdom of your garden, a wonderful metaphor for growth and discovery, to help solve tangled, often multigenerational village mysteries.

You once described a puzzle of deception in At Bertram’s Hotel: “It is like when you get ground elder really badly in a border. There’s nothing else you can do about it—except dig the whole thing up.”

And dig the whole thing up is what you often do, in your polite but probing procedures (which usually seem personal rather than formal—or is this part of your tidy effectiveness, to hide behind your knitting or gardening or bird-watching until the opportune moment to spring?).

And in your world of St. Mary Mead, despite lovely parish teas and garden parties, there is no telling where evil manipulations might turn up next. You show us how, as in Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the weeds—it might not be desirable to pull up the weeds too soon or the wheat could be damaged as well.

In your many adventures it is clear that, as a woman and a detective—as well as a gardener—you know how to wait.

“The wise remain silent until the right moment, but a boasting fool misses the right moment.”

“There is a rebuke that is untimely, and there is the person who is wise enough to keep silent” (Wisdom of Sirach 20: 7, 1).

Perhaps it is your gardening expertise as well as your feminine position in your society that has taught you these skills—which often confound the professionals, the police assigned to such cases.

Whatever it is, we need more of your astute observations and measured responses in our world today.

And so, Miss Marple, continue to shine, as we look to you as an example of the unusual, the easy-to-miss figure of good will and restoration of order who can make all the difference.


Humble Reader

Miss Marple has a fan club!  Become a fan at:

L Is for Lit-Major


“Everything in the world exists in order to end up as a book.” —Stéphane Mallarmé.

Ask any literature major about the purpose of life, and it might come out somewhat like this, depending on what he or she has just been reading …

I don’t believe I ever consciously decided to become a lit-major—I was simply born one.

But it wasn’t until recent years that I began to understand how a simple, flip term like ‘lit-major’ probably says more about my orientation to life, my attitude toward consciousness itself, than anything about what I intended my life profession to be at the time I entered college.

Choice? It felt as though there was nothing to consider. I was hungry for this intellectual mandate to read literarily as much and as often, as deeply and as intentionally as I cared to—pretty much most of the time. Simple as that.

Or was it?

Perhaps even more significantly, embedded in this orientation was simply my desire to know—to understand the world: how others thought about it; the ways they dared to express the business of living; how it fit my own experience to that point; and whether I might ever have anything to add to it, even in my head.

Abraham Lincoln said that “A capacity and taste for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others.” And so in that sense, identifying as a lit-major is—and was for me, only a beginning.

But what is more important than to start?

Well … then perhaps there was a sort of decision—just one so subtle that it felt more like breathing in order to stay alive.

Søren Kierkegaard wrote: “A decision … brings what is eternal into time. … A decision pronounces its blessing upon even the weakest beginning, as long as it is a real beginning. Decision is the awakening to the eternal.”

Sounds pretty extreme for something as simple as taking a literary path that will persist through a lifetime. But encountering oneself while awakening to the eternal pretty much sums it up—as long as you truly possess an open mind and are careful to choose the best minds to join you on the trip.

“I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little further down our particular path than we have yet gone ourselves.”  —E. M. Forster.

So … here’s to the journey!

Are you a lit-major too?



Italo Calvino writes in

“The classics are books that exert a peculiar influence, both when they refuse to be eradicated from the mind and when they conceal themselves in the folds of memory … ”

Perhaps we are what we read.