Appreciations and Observations

It’s doubly fortunate that only about two people will read this blog when it’s published, because this is my first attempt at learning the technology. So I write for some who may go back to this posting at a later date. Usually I would like to begin postings with a story, but for today, let me offer something more like a statement of purpose–what do I hope I can write about? What do I hope people might want to read?

My past attempts at blogging have fizzled out after several posts. I was trying to compose mini-essays. Why I felt compelled to write that way might be interesting enough for a future post. For today, let me suggest what I hope will be a more successful.

I want to offer my appreciations of what I hope you will also appreciate. And, probably less often, I want to use this format to be able to observe without having to turn that observation into an argument. I need to remind myself that I’m here (in cyberspace but also on earth) to appreciate and to observe.

The Renaissance scholars whom I read for my Shakespeare work tell me that an educated person of that period kept a series of notebooks in which he (unfortunately, it was mostly he, with notable exceptions) copied out passages from books that had some appeal, in particular some moral lesson. People talked back to their books in those days. I want to do that in this blog. I want to share passages from what I’m reading, and maybe talk back to that author, at least a little. One aspect of my life at which I would claim some success is being able to choose good books. I would like my tombstone to include the words reader and writer. Well, if I were to have a tombstone, which I sincerely don’t want. But metaphorically….

The topics I plan to write about are nicely summarized by the schedule for the trip to Denmark on which I depart tomorrow. First, I offer a workshop on narrative to people who have academic and professional interests mostly in healthcare. I’m happy to see that some of the participants plan to start writing groups for ill people; that’s what my work has always tried to support.

I then move to the University of South Denmark, where I will present a seminar paper on Shakespeare from the perspective of vulnerable reading. The field called “literature and medicine” has mostly taken the perspective of professionals; my question is what’s in it for those who need literature because they are suffering? We talk about texts being “good to think with”. I want to explore how texts can be good to suffer with–how stories, and some ideas, address that suffering and maybe lessen it.

My third stop in Denmark is to speak at a hospital conference on medical humanities. I’ll talk about how three illness stories addressed me at times when I was suffering, and still do. I don’t propose that listeners should adopt these particular stories as their companions. Instead, I’m trying to model how and why it’s worth making careful choices about the stories we take on as our companions.

Now–I’ll see if I can actually get this posted. Which will be exciting.

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