In Michael Pollan’s least-heralded, but perhaps best-loved, book, A Place of My Own: The Architecture of Daydreams, the author sets off to learn about architecture and building so as to create the perfect place to write. And he does! He eventually comes up with a little ship of a building, small but functional, with everything in its place and a pleasant view of his home at a nice enough remove to allow thoughts to bud and grow. How idyllic.
Back in the real world, I wrote my last roundup from an airport gate. This one’s being written from a parking lot on campus, where I hope that the wifi will hold out and my dogs, holed up in the car with me since our house is being painted and they’re known curmudgeons, will keep it down. Last week? I didn’t even manage to write one. Chaos—which is to say, actual life—gets in the way of so many grand ambitions.
The point here isn’t that Michael Pollan is a lucky bastard (though he is and, to his credit, he knows it). It’s that not having the ideal conditions in which to write isn’t what’s stopping us from brilliance. We could build our own refuge to write, we could dash off to a lovely quiet place like Green Gulch (a Buddhist community and farm in Northern California which, blessedly, doesn’t even get cell phone reception), we could Eat, Pray, and Love our way across every continent, and without simply putting pen to paper, we’d get nothing written.
So that’s the whole of my advice this week: to write, write. Write well, write badly, write on scraps of paper, and write by dictating good thoughts into your iPhone. Tweet, scribble, and call your friends. Find ways to just let your ideas out, perfectly imperfect, no matter where you are, and see what happens. Give yourself little assignments, write haikus, send a postcard. Or don’t. Writing is your choice, not some function of circumstance. If you don’t write this week, it’s because you chose not to. Clearly, I’m trying—join me!
Others who wrote in the past couple of weeks:
The Editors’ Desk:
“Scalia Takes it from ‘Bad’ to ‘Really Bad’,” by Doug Hartmann. In which an amicus brief by the ASA is pushed aside in favor of one by Mark Regenerus.
Citings & Sightings:
“Workplace Inflexibility,” by John Ziegler. In which companies like Yahoo! and Best Buy revoke work-from-wherever policies. No word on working from parking lots.
“Moving on Marriage,” by Andrew Wiebe. In which the Supreme Court takes on Prop 8 and DOMA and we’re reminded of Loving v. Virginia.
“American Cheese, Unwrapped,” by John Ziegler. In which an anthropologist seeks out a quiet, but tasty, social movement.
“Caste from the Past,” by Andrew Wiebe. In which Britons discover “lower, middle, and upper” don’t quite describe the classes as they are.
“His Biological Clock’s A’Ticking,” by Erin Hoekstra. In which, surprise! Dudes want kids, too.
“Why Medicalizing ‘The Mood’ May Not Work,” by Lisa Gulya. In which searching for “pink Viagra” might be replaced by a search for egalitarianism and stress reduction and all the laundry being done.
“Funny Looks? Muslims and Islamophobia in the UK,” by Erin Hoekstra. In which overt racism is replaced by “microaggressions” in post-7/7 London.
“The Obama Effect,” by Sarah Lageson. In which researchers find Obama’s presidential candidacy changed American race relations right through the TV.
A Few From the Community Pages:
- Sociological Images. SocImages rounds up the month of March, as well as posts related to Women’s History Month; looks at kids and their toys around the world; invites readers to help in creating a new look for the site; discusses prison labor; and makes it starkly clear that Steubenville is not unique.
- Cyborgology. “Like” labor; Facebook friends are real friends; playing gender on Pinterest; and why the “Red Sea” of equality on social media is inspiring, if low-effort.
- Sociology Lens. What does evil look like? Talking tech with high school girls; working on prisoner reintegration; and how a TED talk got banned.
Scholars’ Strategy Network:
“Why the Decline of Catholic Schools Matters,” by Carol Ann McGregor.
“Does Africa Need a New Green Revolution to Fight Hunger?‘ by Ron Aminzade.
“Low Wage Workers and Paid Family Leave: The California Experience,” by Ruth Milkman and Eileen Appelbaum.
“Fathers’ Work and Child Wellbeing,” by Christine Percheski and Christopher Wildeman.