For reasons I won’t go into, I was led to post, on Facebook, my page of interview links here.  Then it occurred to me that, although that page is here on this site, many who read the blog may be unaware of it. So here it is. This includes more than a dozen interviews of various lengths, most of them 15 minutes or so, all centering either on ILC or my conversations or the books made of those conversations. Some will find it of interest.




Hemingway and death and life and despondency

Ernest Hemingway was smart, quick, experienced, and incisive. As an author he was superb. His novels are filled with life, and in them he has his characters say many memorable and valuable things, things that will enrich your life. He also has them say a very few silly ones, and ironically, the silliest thing he ever wrote is quoted on every side as if it made sense. From A Farewell to Arms:

“If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken place. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too, but there will be no special hurry.”

At best, this represents the despairing mood of a rather passive young man who was prone to fits of despondency. But look at those five sentences – really look at them.

“If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them.”

Read literally, this says that “the world” wars against brave people, that “the world” is out to break everyone, and those that will not break, “the world” kills. But does this view of “the world” as a sort of super-psychopath really reflect your experience of life?

“The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken place.”

Perhaps he is using the word “breaks” in a special manner, here. It is true that everyone in the world comes to know sorrow and suffering, but to grieve and to suffer is not necessarily to break. Do you think that everyone you know – including yourself – broke somehow?

“But those that will not break it kills.”

This is just plain silly, almost beyond comment. If death is a tragedy, then life itself is a tragedy, because all life ends in death, as all death prepares new life. Do you regard each new death as one more tragedy in a tragic world? And is it “the world” that brings death, or is it the process of living? And does death strike you as an act of malice? Is it not often an act of mercy?

“It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially.”

If by this he meant simply that everyone dies, who could argue? But it seems to imply that “the world” has a special animus against “the very good and the very gentle and the very brave” and hustles them off the scene posthaste. Is that your experience of life?

“If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too, but there will be no special hurry.”

Again, the sentiment that screams out of these words is a sense of “the world” as the enemy of life; of life as an inevitable tragedy because it changes form (or, as he apparently thought, ends).

None of this lessens my immense respect for a very great author. And in fact I often feel sorry for Hemingway, in that the cultural beliefs he was born into made his life difficult. But we do him no honor to put on a pedestal one of the silliest things he ever had a narrator think, and read it in awe-struck veneration, just as if it made sense.

Pottery days

I was going to show pix of some of the things I was playing with, a dozen years ago. But this is the only shot I could make this post accept. These are mugs that have been thrown, shaped, and trimmed. After this would come applying glazing and then firing in the kiln.

I never liked the glazing part much, and in retrospect I wish I had thrown many more pots and not glazed and fired them, but merely treated them as practice pieces until I got better. But I’m glad to have many of the pieces I do have, and until I went poking through my photo files, I had forgotten some of the pieces that I gave away, which naturally would be among the best things I did.


Sacred Sites: A Poem

Sacred Sties

 Thinking of Shasta

And Machu Picchu,

Salisbury, Iona,

Giza, Luxor, Karnak –

So many haunted, haunting

Impenetrable landscapes

Hiding in plain sight,

A geography of portals.


An explanation of my process

A reader comments that the Gospel of Thomas is “becoming a little tiresome for me,” and asks if I could “intersperse it with the general topics with TGU, much more interesting for me, and usually covers points in my life unexplained until your conversations.” (The final sentence of the comment was: “maybe your agenda can’t accommodate my request.” That made me smile. My agenda, except in the very broadest sense, doesn’t seem to have much to do with what happens! )

The comment made me realize that perhaps I should explain my process. WordPress allows you to pre-schedule posts, so that is often what I do. For instance, I schedule my series “America’s Long Journey” to post every Sunday. And for a long time I have been scheduling conversations from my earlier days to post several times a week.

Typically, I will get industrious and do the work of preparing and scheduling several of them at one time. On particularly industrious days, I may schedule a couple of weeks into the future, and then forget about it until my queue of pre-scheduled posts starts to approach empty. Then I do another spurt of work.

Recently, though, two things happened. I got involved in discussing Thomas with the guys, and at the same time I allowed my pre-scheduling queue to run dry. For a combination of personal reasons, I haven’t done the work to prime that particular pump, and in fact I have been goofing off on the Thomas discussions as well. Hopefully I’ll do better.





No longer on Facebook

If someone who is also on Facebook could copy this to my wall there — frank.demarco.10 — i’d appreciate it. I can’t seem to post anything these days.
For whatever reason, Facebook is back to making it impossible for me to post references to my blog entries. So if you want to follow my conversations, or my post-every-Sunday mini essays on American history, you’ll have to go to the source. www [dot]ofmyownknowledge [dot] Com. Sorry, but I don’t know what’s going on with FB in this regard.

Poems about departed friends

[Bob Friedman]

Bob’s Eulogies

One after another, we spoke,

And the common thread among us,

Bob’s kindness, his calm acceptance.

So many attributes besides,

Not overlooked, not forgotten,

But set in shadow, next to this,

His goodness.


[Colin Wilson]


He might have been a man aloof,

Settled in a lifetime’s success,

Knowing the value of his work,

Engaged as ever in pursuits:

Reconnecting shards into clues;

Evolving of the superman;

Always, the meaning of our lives.

He had to know his worth. Then why

The smile, the generous welcome

Into his world?