Tuesday, September 22, 2015

What for a regular and orderly life?

I struggle hard whenever I ask myself when it was that I first subscribed to the New Yorker.  For that matter, I don't even recall how I came to know about the magazine.  After all, it was not as if I grew up with my parents as New Yorker fans.  The good thing is that I became a New Yorker fan. A groupie. ;)

During those lean budget years immediately post-divorce,  it felt like I had become my own enemy when I decided to forego the subscription and, instead, relied on the university library for the issues.  As I settled into the life of a divorcĂ©, the lack of money weighed less and less against the missing magazine in the mailbox.  I paid up.  It felt like the fog of life had lifted. Flowers had started blooming.  My intellectual life started perking up again.

The latest issue has a lengthy profile feature on Julianne Moore.  The people profiled there, or the way it is written, always have interesting things to offer.  Here, the brainy Moore notes this, which fascinates me:
Moore is fond of quoting Flaubert’s dictum “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” And she insists on that regularity. “I’m incredibly bourgeois,” she said. “And I don’t care. I’m not wild. There’s nothing outrageous about me. I’m really a pretty nice person. I am not erratic in my behavior. You know the kind of people who are really irregular—they keep people off balance that way. I’m not that kind of person.”
That is an example of why the magazine draws me week after week, as it has for years now.  Until I read that essay, I had no idea about Gustav Flaubert's awesome advice to "be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work."  I will add this to the other Flaubert advice, which was apparently his practice.  If the sentences that he had crafted did not sound right when he read them out as he walked the streets of Paris, Flaubert decided that he had to rework them.  Ever since I read about that nearly two decades ago, I have always read aloud the op-ed essays before I sent them off to the editors.  I even recommend that approach to students--but then, when did students ever listen to what I have to say! ;)

I don't think Flaubert meant "violent" as in punching the daylights out of a human.  It is to be bold in one's work and not worry about rocking the boat.  Or, maybe I am interpreting Flaubert because it suits my existence?  I lead a boringly regular and orderly life.  Weekday or weekend, I go to bed about the same time and wake up about the same time.  The waking hours in between, well, it is no James Bond life!  A boringly regular and orderly life that seemingly prepares me for the exciting intellectual life of truth-seeking that I so cherish living.

Painted Hills: one of the many natural wonders here in Oregon
I went there and clicked this photo in my regularly and ordered life ;)

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