November 20th, 2022
Psychology has met with great success
Analyzing and systematizing…
But can theories and statistics reveal
What really lies deep in the heart of man?
In this blog, I use the poetic form Christopher Marlowe, Shakespeare and John Milton favored as a vehicle to explore the themes that so interested them: blank verse. In this poem, I try to think through how one can confidently find what it is they seek: one’s truth, meaning, fulfillment, and other values. Read More
August 14th, 2022
“I have never lost my faith to what seems to me is a materialism that leads nowhere—nowhere of value, anyway. I have never met a super-wealthy person for whom money obviated any of the basic challenges of finding happiness in the material world.”
Guess who wrote that in his 2020 memoir, now a New York Times bestseller? Perhaps surprising to you, it is none other than Val Kilmer.
His book is entitled I’m Your Huckleberry, a riff on the most notable quote in a movie chock-full of notable quotes: the 1993 cinematic wonder, Tombstone. Kilmer and Kurt Russell rewrote Kevin Jarre’s screenplay fairly significantly, he claims, to help it pass muster with George P. Cosmatos, the demanding director of the film.
Since he was a boy, Val Kilmer lived twice as fast as anyone else, so what you have with this book is an honest and revealing memoir by a 120-year-old Hollywood titan. He probably tried harder in some of his films than anyone else who could be considered his equal. He loved and admired directors such as Tony Scott and Oliver Stone who were as intense and perfectionistic as he is/was. Indeed, like the ambitious and visionary Greek mytical figure Icarus, Kilmer’s meteoric rise as an actor of astounding ability and his subsequent plummeting back down to the hard Earth are equally remarkable.
In Tinseltown, perhaps more than any other since Rome, only the strong survive, and no one—not an acting legend and not an Emperor—can outpace Time forever.
This blog will highlight twenty of the most remarkable quotes in the book. Read More
June 14th, 2022
Wisdom is a complex topic. If you look it up in the dictionary, you will get a paper-thin definition—correct perhaps, in as far as it goes. What I tried to do in my 2022 book on the subject is to go beyond mere definition to metaphorically painting a picture of the phenomenon. In this blog, I will get into one aspect of wisdom: what I might term an efficient perception of how the world works, what humans are like, and how we can best cope with the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” as Shakespeare put the vicissitudes and the turbulence we each face in life. This is existentialism; personal growth; the development of the self. Read More
May 9th, 2020
“Now is the winter of our discontent,” Shakespeare wrote nearly 500 years ago. Talk about something standing the test of time! Indeed, there are many quotes from his prescient plays and striking sonnets that still aptly describe human beings today. As I write, it is nearly April, 2020, and the world is caught in convulsions of the chaos created by coronavirus. The pandemic, like something Shakespeare would have taken inspiration from, highlights both the good and the bad, the wise and the foolish, the wonderful and the absurd. It shows everything about human beings, the human condition, and humanity’s aspirations — and failings. It is through this lens that I write a bit about what is evident all around us now, in the winter of our discontent. Read More
March 9th, 2020
David Leonhardt of the New York Times, says this about Joe Biden: “As happened with McCain in 2008, a large share of primary voters this year weren’t wowed by any of the candidates. They instead were waiting for one to emerge — especially one who seemed likely to beat President Trump. I don’t think it was inevitable that Biden would be that candidate, especially after his weak start. But after Sherrod Brown and Mitch Landrieu didn’t run, after Michael Bloomberg entered the race late, after Cory Booker and Kamala Harris dropped out and after every other candidate failed to appeal to black voters, Biden was the one left standing. Many voters have found their way back to him.” He might not have been the most able candidate from the beginning, but with Bernie failing to really catalyze a winning combination of huge voter turnout, minority support, and suburban appeal, Biden is the man African-American, older, and many Hispanic voters are choosing to accomplish the most important goal conceivable: send Donald Trump back to his gilded towers of dark magic and usher in an era that is both progressive and harkens back to the largely-successful Obama years. Biden’s coup on “Super Tuesday” was reminiscent of the mythical boxer and “comeback kid”, Rocky Balboa. Here is a brief synopsis of the virtue and character that many see in Biden’s glorious victory. Read More
September 11th, 2019
Success is a complicated word to define, is it not? Does it mean fame? Is it really about dominance in some field or endeavor? With whom is one competing: peers, the self, one’s superiors, the community? Is the accumulation of money the operative idea? Generativity, such as raising good children or leaving the world better than one found it? I have had the pleasure of reading the older but still extraordinary book True Success, by the philosopher, former professor, person of faith, and founder of the Morris Institute for Human Values, Tom V. Morris. I will share some quotes about true success, as well as try to shape or clarify the concept (and compare my views to Dr. Morris’) in this blog, and here is the first: “To the extent that we want to have goals that are right for us and that will help make the contribution we are put in this life to make, we can be said to have as a goal true success.“ Read More
September 2nd, 2018
America, if it were a person, would be experiencing anxiety, self-doubt, egocentrism, confusion, self-loathing, and narcissism. Life has never been easy or uniformly positive for all but the wealthy, and even then, the rich aren’t any happier than the other social classes. It’s true, there was what some consider to be a “golden era” as we came out of World War II. The wealthy and corporations paid a large share of the tax burden, had more in common with the other social classes (e.g., “the Commons” were more robust then), and jobs were well-paying and fairly secure. Despite the racial, gender and sexual orientation problems that plagued America then, it was a time of general prosperity, social mobility, and optimism. Something has gone awry to an increasingly dire degree; if America were a person it would be spending a lot of time in bars, occasionally getting into a fight while intoxicated, and dealing with a persistent cough. The values and virtues America desperately needs are the subjects of this blog. It entails social criticism, but I think America can look to its “better angels”, as Lincoln put it. We have to do it. Read More
August 23rd, 2018
You might not have heard of the musical group Everlast. In 1998 they put out a fantastic, unparalleled song “What It’s Like.” I can’t say enough good stuff about it, both lyrically and musically. It’s absolutely remarkable. It’s been listened to over 5 million times on YouTube, and it hit #13 on the charts when it debuted. In this blog, I will provide a YouTube link and share the lyrics. Watching the video while reading the lyrics will no doubt provide the reader interested in values, ethics, and virtue with inspiration and a truly deep emotional experience. I have literally teared up listening to this amazing song. The crux of the empathy the writer Erik Shrody is calling for can be clearly seen in these words: “You know where it ends…usually depends on where you start.” See how the other half lives in the song “What It’s Like”… Read More
June 12th, 2018
As I noted in a previous blog about living life on life’s terms, one has to take a long, hard look at life and in the mirror and not blanch. One will find a high challenge there. “Life is a tragedy to those who think, and a comedy to those who feel,” noted French author La Bruyere long ago. But Drew D. Brown believed that “[y]ou don’t look in the mirror to see life; you’ve got to look out the window.” Thus, I wanted to follow up that first blog with this, a piece featuring quotes about “living life on life’s terms”. Enjoy this look at coping, self-realization, personal growth, inner strength, truth, insight, and realism. Read More
March 21st, 2018
Marie-Jean-Antoine-Nicolas de Caritat, known as the Marquis de Condorcet (1743-1794), was a French philosopher of the Enlightenment. He was also an amazingly progressive and early proponent of women’s rights and educational reform. Condorcet did much of the heavy lifting in bringing the ideas of progress, or the indefinite perfectibility of humankind, to the fore. History has much benefitted from his courage, grace, and intelligence. He also has a very interesting denouement – to use a French word! – and I will share that shortly. Read More