Reading Is Hard (Hemingway to Orwell)

Reading is cathartic, or so I’ve heard. You get a psychological release because your mind is allowed to focus on something other than whatever it is that you had decided to be afraid of in life.

To be true to yourself, you have to uncover yourself from all that you thought you should be and finally become that which you truly are. To be courageous and graceful, under pressure. Never fearing death, but living for moments of love and greatness.

Clean and simple prose, that’s what I learned from Ernest Hemingway. He was a declarative writer and one that could turn a phrase without risk of excess.

I’m not sure if you read the first post in The Reading List series, but about a month ago I decided to meta-read The Sun Also Rises, and I learned a thing or two about Ernest Hemingway along the way.

The first thing I learned was that he had a very direct style of writing, and that style had a name – That his Iceberg Theory of writing is a beautiful metaphor for omission. If you know something, and are a strong writer, you can admit parts of a story and be assured that the reader will pick upon what you omitted because the story elements are implicit. To put it another way, icebergs only show a small portion of themselves on the surface of the water, which allows us to understand the whole of them all the better. Unless we are ignorant.

The second thing I learned is that a life half lived is not much of a life at all. Whatever Hemingway’s critics and fans would have us believe about his adventures in journalism, tragedies of war, foray’s into other countries, and personal struggles, Hemingway stood grounded in whatever activities held his attention throughout his life – And writing was the cement that held his house together. This further demonstrates the importance of focus, as an artist, but also enrichment as a human being.

And that is all I have to share on Hemingway for the moment.

Now, I turn back to the reading list for another book to read and another artist to consider. In case you forget, my goal is to read one book a month from 5 particular groupings. The 5 L’s of Language.

  • LIFE – Biographies/Art/Music
  • LOVE – Classic Fiction/Non-Fiction/Graphic Novels
  • LEARN – Business/Leadership/Self-Help
  • LABEL – Philosophy/Sociology/Psychology
  • LEET -The Internet

The author I’m going after this time around is George Orwell, and the novel is 1984. I was born in 1985, and have been influenced greatly by post-modern ideologies and post-apocalyptic stories for as long as I can remember, so I’ve decided to read a story by someone best known for a novel of dystopian life.

His influence on film is of particular note, with Orwellian ideas being explored to varying degrees in several critically acclaimed movies. Fahrenheit 451, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes, THX 1138, A Clockwork Orange, Soylent Green, Blade Runner, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Brazil, They Live, The Matrix, Minority Report, V for Vendetta, Children of Men, and Land of the Blind are all excellent examples.

Whatever you opinion of George Orwell, I’ll spend some time with him so see what I can glean and then share with you, dear readers. After all, reading is cathartic and exercise for the mind.

 

Regardless, I STILL think it’s a pretty neat way to keep myself accountable. But what do you think? I’m out of theories for today, but I hope this wisdom finds you well. Please share, subscribe and comment. Facebook and Twitter are good starting points. Otherwise, I’ll see you tomorrow with something timely.

Tim!

How To Stay On Topic AND Be Topical (The Reading List)

Reading is cathartic, sharpens your mind, and expands your world. How it manages to do all of this is kind of amazing, but I’ve written about that before (see here, here, and here for recent examples), and it’s not really what this timely Thursday post is really about.

This entry is about another of my lifestyle goals as a cultivator of the arts.

You see friends, I’ve always been a lover of knowledge. Every personality test I’ve taken, every mentor I’ve had, and many of the compliments I have been given by generous humanly have usualy revolved around my intellect. I’ve spent thousands of hours of my life in thought and in the written word, so it kinda makes sense.

It’s a great comfort to me to read and I believe it is where a lot of my natural creativity lies. I’m very thankful for this gift and I intend to continue to use it to great effect. But I’ll be the first to admit, that creativity often comes from places other than self. Sure you can carry a creative idea through to it’s logical conclusion and exhaust it by repetition and personal exploration, but even more new ideas form through experience of the world.

Which is why I need to keep reading regularly, and read new things. As an artist, a curator of art and a practitioner of artist development, it’s my pleasure to share ideas with you dear readers. That means I need to find ideas in order to share them.

Buying a new album and film every week is a start, and participating in social media to build an empire is a good for discipline, but but I’ve always found that reading is the best way to spark ideas. Which is why I’ve decided to start The Reading List. It’s ambitious for sure, but it’s the only way I know how to flesh out a process, by dreaming big and digging in.

My goal for the rest of the year, and then for the rest of my life as I know it, is to read one book a month in a packet of categories. I’m going to start slow though.

To elaborate, I’ve grouped genres and topics, but will slowly expand outward until I am consuming at least 5 kinds of books a month. I already mentioned meta-reading, where I read a book, that I will also be writing about and how it relates to the act of reading, my relationship to the author I’m reading, and how my opinion of them and the work changes over time. I’m following this challenge concurrently with The Reading List to share some insights into the reading process and what I’ve learned from some wonderful authors.

And I’ve started with Ernest Hemingway. So let’s break down my crazy library sized idea for reading, and explore the possibilities and how it will benefit you, the readers of this blog.

I will read one book a month from the 5 groupings below, slowly expanding the number of books read so that I reach the point of 5 books a month. A book for each group:

  1. LIFE – Biographies/Art/Music
  2. LOVE – Classic Fiction/Non-Fiction/Graphic Novels
  3. LEARN – Business/Leadership/Self-Help
  4. LABEL – Philosophy/Sociology/Psychology
  5. LEET -The Internet

If I can get to the point where I read a book from each topic a month, I’ll be flying pretty high. You see, dear readers, if I can embrace the 5 L’s of LANGUAGE (my own idea), then I can contribute proper to your own education and personal growth in the age of the Internet – Hence the LEET grouping.

I think it’s a pretty neat way to keep myself accountable. But what do you think? I’m out of theories for the week, so share the post and leave me some feedback. Facebook and Twitter are most appreciated.

Tim!

Things Said In Earnest (Meta-Reading)

I’m a big fan of lists, process improvement, discipline, personal development, branding, and having a purpose. These are expressions I’ve honed over years as both an artist and a marketing professional. And wisdom often denotes that if you want to continue to evolve you must change too as other successful people before you have changed.

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I do have to say something in earnest though, change is important and while that particular Xzibit meme pokes fun at recursive things, it also manages to be meta about the concept of change. As the old adage goes, the only thing constant is change.

A couple of weeks ago I shared a hint of a vision with you, as it seems I so often do.

But dear readers, you of course know that the much larger purpose of timotheories is digital curating at heart – we focus on cultivating the arts and providing you with positive feedback both on creative work and for creative professionals too…

And it is Wisdom Wednesday after all, so a vision seems appropriate. Where was I? Oh right I have a vision, a pet project, a task I am undertaking myself and which I seriously think all creative types would benefit from pursuing as well.

This project doesn’t have a name just yet, but for now, I’m going to refer to it as meta-reading. I’ve decided to tentatively call the vision as such because I know that I am going to be reading a minimum of one book a month. My rationale about said meta-reading is that I will also be writing about the act of reading, my relationship to the author I’m reading, and how my opinion of them and the work changes over time. I’m following this course because we don’t all consciously consider the act of reading. And we should. Most of us either do it or do not – which would make Yoda proud, but wouldn’t create well-rounded individuals.

So, I want to dedicate at least one post a month to a behemoth of creativity, one who I believe can provide you who some wisdom and help you to grow into the role you were meant to play, that of creative professional. I’ll admit first and foremost that this theory I have, that creativity is attainable by all, is not a new one, and I carry a heavy heart in sharing the knowledge I have gleaned from others and of course that which I personally pass on to you several times a week.

Which I why I’ve decided to start off the project of meta-reading by examines one of my favourite authors of whom I have never read anything by, but whom has been quoted and misquoted so many times in the history of writing since his contributions, and whom has been referenced in popular culture again and again.

That’s right, I’m reading a book by one Ernest Hemingway.

He has been called many things, from champ, to papa hemingway, to tiny, but Ernest Hemingway was one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. And he lived a very rich life. Unfortunately his depression ended up killing him in the end, but that is not why I want to read one of his books. I want to understand why he influenced pop culture the way he did, and quite frankly I want to gain some wisdom myself.

Which is why my task for you over the next couple of weeks is to join me as I read Hemingway’s first novel, The Sun Also Rises, and next month I’ll talk about the book, provide a little background on him and my thoughts, and do it again with another creative type. Sound good friends?

I thought so too.

And that’s all of the theories I’ve got for today. Please subscribe to the blog, leave some comments, and share with your artist loved ones. I’ll be back tomorrow with something timely.

Tim!