Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Divinipotent About Editors v. Writers

"Editing is the same as quarreling with writers — same thing exactly."
~ Harold Ross

Just like labor and management, liberals and conservatives, parents and teenagers and the Yankees and the Red Sox, editors and writers are engaged in an endless, ritualized struggle for dominance. We writers agonize over our words, sentences, paragraphs and chapters; we come to love them and want to protect them. But editors believe they stand for the reader. They hate the words that slow them, confuse them or drive them to unplanned reverie about laundry loads and grocery lists. And so the struggle continues.

However, on the subject of censorship, writers and editors stand with arms linked, feet planted firmly, minds finally in agreement. This is Banned Books Week. Keep the harmony going and help fight censorship.

"Would you convey my compliments to the purist who reads your proofs and tell him or her that I write in a sort of broken-down patois which is something like the way a Swiss waiter talks, and that when I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will stay split, and when I interrupt the velvety smoothness of my more or less literate syntax with a few sudden words of bar-room vernacular, that is done with the eyes wide open and the mind relaxed but attentive."
~ Raymond Chandler

"Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers."
~ T. S. Eliot

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Divinipotent About Scientific Research

"Science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be, and outside of its domain value judgments of all kinds remain necessary."
~ Albert Einstein

In an article titled "A Life of Its Own" in the September 28, 2009 issue of The New Yorker, Michael Specter writes about scientists on the front lines of synthetic biology, people who are "combining elements of engineering, chemistry, computer science, and molecular biology" to construct new forms of life, from clean energy sources to disease-free humans.

With that in mind, in Banned Books Week 2009, Divinipotent Daily stops to ponder science texts — works that, unlike literature, can lead to the permanent physical alteration of our world. Some lobby to restrict both scientific research and the information derived from it. But the reality is, Pandora's box is open, and its secrets cannot be recalled. Close observation and what Einstein called "value judgments of all kinds" about science are the only recourse for those outside the laboratory's domain.

"Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay to mould me Man, did I solicit thee from darkness to promote me?"
~ Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (Frankenstein: or, the Modern Prometheus)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Divinipotent About Writers and Writing

It's Banned Books Week. Today, someone in a nearby city, town or school system will try to hide a writer's work from the eyes of others. To learn how to help fight censorship, go to

Now, some uncensored words from writers about their work.

"The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself."
~ Albert Camus

"A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people."
~ Thomas Mann

"Real writers are those who want to write, need to write, have to write."
~ Robert Penn Warren

"I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again."
~ Oscar Wilde

"Planning to write is not writing. Outlining…researching…talking to people about what you're doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing."
~ E.L. Doctorow

"There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are."
~ Somerset Maugham

"To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the inner music the words make."
~ Truman Capote

"You become a writer because you need to become a writer — nothing else."
~ Grace Paley

"If I had to give young writers advice, I would say don't listen to writers talking about writing or themselves."
~ Lillian Hellman

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Divinipotent About Book Burning

“Wherever they burn books they will also, in the end, burn human beings.”
~ Heinrich Heine

It's Banned Books Week. Go here for ideas about how you can fight censorship.

"You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police. Yet in their hearts there is unspoken - unspeakable! - fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts! Words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home, all the more powerful because they are forbidden. These terrify them. A little mouse - a little tiny mouse! - of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic."
~ Winston Churchill

Friday, September 25, 2009

Divinipotent About Musicians and Music

“If a composer could say what he had to say in words he would not bother trying to say it in music.”
~ Gustav Mahler

Long ago, in "Free Man in Paris," Joni Mitchell sang about "the star maker machinery behind the popular song." Today that machinery is said to be falling apart. According to the tunerati, digital culture is stealing revenues from popular musicians and choking the profits from the labels behind them. Perhaps so.

But perhaps not. Perhaps digital culture has brought so much to hear from so many parts of the world, music can no longer be contained by a corporation.

As Van Morrison said, “Music is spiritual. The music business is not.” Music came long before the business and will be with us long after it's gone. Musicians will always make it. What else can they do?

“I've never known a musician who regretted being one. Whatever deceptions life may have in store for you, music itself is not going to let you down.”
~ Virgil Thomson

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Divinipotent About Dog Owners

“No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation
as the dog does.”

~ Christopher Morley

All over the planet, people with jobs will trudge to their doors exhausted at the end of a long working day. The dog owners among them will be revived almost instantly by the high-powered love beams radiating from their tail-wagging, tongue-lolling, endlessly hopeful and forgiving canine friends.

Humans will return that love with ear scratching and chin ruffling and lavish rubbing of bellies, secure in the knowledge that their furry friends consider them the best, most important and interesting people on earth.

“You can say any fool thing to a dog, and the dog will give you this look that says, `My God, you're RIGHT! I NEVER would've thought of that!'”
~ Dave Barry

Divinipotent About Apologies

"Very sorry can’t come. Lie follows by post."
~ Lord Charles Beresford

Today will be another sorry day in a world of oh-so-sorry people, from criminals copping a plea to preschoolers fighting over toys, bosses delivering pink slips, teenagers who've broken curfew, bankers foreclosing on homes, politicians caught cheating on their wives and strangers who step on our toes. Sorry Sir Elton, but in this sorry, sorry world, sorry is hardly the hardest word.

"Well, excuuuuuse me!"
~ Steve Martin

Monday, September 21, 2009

Divinipotent About Forgetfulness

“Blessed are the forgetful; for they get the better even of their blunders.”
~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Today the overstressed, overtired and overmedicated will chase through their minds after runaway names, words, phone numbers and other contrary things that will only appear when their pursuers have surrendered.

“Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it.”
~ Michel de Montaigne

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Divinipotent About Fall Fashions

“Fashions, after all, are only induced epidemics.”
~ George Bernard Shaw

Fall is more than a season: it's a fashion season. And even in this economically inclement climate, New York's fashion mavens, fashionistas and yes, fashion victims, will strut their stuff fashionably, after a fashion. Expect accents of mimosa yellow.

“I base most of my fashion taste on what doesn't itch.”
~ Gilda Radner

Divinipotent About Autumn

"Besides the autumn poets sing
A few prosaic days
A little this side of the snow
And that side of the haze."
~ Emily Dickinson

Autumn arrives for its annual stay in the Northern Hemisphere on Tuesday, carrying with it crisp air, blue-white light, shrinking days, orange pumpkins, golden leaves and traces of regret. Old poets will be remembered, new poets will be inspired.

"A wind has blown the rain away and blown the sky away and all the leaves away, and the trees stand. I think, I too, have known autumn too long.”
~ E. E. Cummings

“There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been!”
~ Percy Bysshe Shelley

“Summer makes me drowsy. Autumn makes me sing. Winter's pretty lousy, but I hate Spring.”
~ Dorothy Parker

Friday, September 18, 2009

Divinipotent About Pirates

“Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates.”

~ Mark Twain

Ahoy there! Today, all over the world, the air will echo with cries of "Arrrrrr" and "Avast!" and other sounds beginning with "A" as legions of armchair Blackbeards, Hooks and Jack Sparrows celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day 2009.

“Pirates could happen to anyone.”
~ Tom Stoppard

Photo credit: found online at Language Log ( via @GrammarGirl

Divinipotent About Bread

"I like reality. It tastes like bread."

~ Jean Anouilh

In this era of low-carb dieting, as the bread-lovers among us mete out our daily ration of whole grains, we will wonder how anything so good can really be bad.

“I feast on wine and bread, and feasts they are.”
~ Michelangelo

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Divinipotent About Old Friends

"It takes a long time to grow an old friend."
~ John Leonard

Today old friends will connect in that easy-going way that defines their closeness, while once-close friends will rediscover one another in the global Lost and Found that is the Internet.

"The bird a nest
the spider a web
the human friendship"
~ William Blake

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Divinipotent About School Days

“It is better to learn late than never.”
~ Publius Syrus

Today, as students in classrooms all over the world wish they were almost anywhere else, millions of adults will fleetingly wish they had paid more attention in school.

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn."
~ Alvin Toffler

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Divinipotent About Rudeness

“Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.”
~ Eric Hoffer

Today the news will retell its tales of egregious etiquette breaches by public figures; meanwhile, the everyday coarseness of entitled elbowers, impatient line-jumpers, anonymous commenters, digital ranters, ideological screamers and their kind will go unnoticed by all except their victims.

“The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners
without seeing any.”

~ Fred Astaire

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Divinipotent About Cautious Optimism

“The basis of optimism is sheer terror.”
~ Oscar Wilde

As positive economic indicators accumulate, some will adopt an outlook of cautious optimism. A potentially more divinipotent approach: extreme caution in the financial sector and unbridled optimism among those who create jobs.

“Optimist: Person who travels on nothing from nowhere to happiness”
~ Mark Twain

Divinipotent About Authors

"Imagine Pulitzer prize-fighting."
~ Steven Wright

Today the nation will go about its Sunday business, some to worship, some to work, some to garage sales, some to the crossword puzzle. But in Brooklyn, the borough of churches and novelists, local authors will take part in a new annual ritual. Covering their writerly bristles in a fine cloak of camaraderie, they will head to the Brooklyn Book Festival, where they will meet the enemy and celebrate their calling.

“When a writer talks about his work, he's talking about a love affair.”
~ Alfred Kazin

“Asking a writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamp post
how it feels about dogs.”

~ Ann Landers

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Divinipotent About Page One

“There was a time when the reader of an unexciting newspaper would remark, 'How dull is the world today!' Nowadays he says, 'What a dull newspaper!'”
~ Daniel J. Boorstin

Today the nation's leading newspapers will largely disconnect from global and national concerns and instead focus their attentions on family tragedies, minor triumphs and the small milestones that make up real life.

“The best newspapermen I know are those most thrilled by the daily pump of city room excitements; they long fondly for a 'good murder'; they pray that assassinations, wars, catastrophes break on their editions.”
~ Pete Hamill

Friday, September 11, 2009

Divinipotent About Loss and Remembrance

"Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live."
~ Robert F. Kennedy

Today, for most of us, the routines and rituals of everyday life will be interrupted from time to time by memories of shared loss.

"We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to
make us love one another."

~ Jonathan Swift

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Divinipotent About Civil Discourse

“A man's manners are a mirror in which he shows his portrait.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Today some will maintain good manners and dignity even as others try to shout them down or elbow them out of the way.

“When a man points a finger at someone else, he should remember that four of his fingers are pointing at himself.”
~ Louis Nizer

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Divinipotent About Political Theater

"In politics, what begins in fear usually ends in folly."
~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Today, with hysteria over the president's speech to schoolchildren behind us (we hope), Washington will return to the business of freaking out about health care reform.

"What are fears but voices airy?
Whispering harm where harm is not.

And deluding the unwary

Till the fatal bolt is shot!"

~ William Wordsworth

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Divinipotent About Getting Down to Business

“Your hair may be brushed, but your mind's untidy. You've had about seven hours of sleep since Friday. No wonder you feel that lost sensation. You're sunk from a riot of relaxation.”
~ Ogden Nash

Today is the day when millions of U.S. citizens will return to work or to school and begin to count the days until the next major holiday (79 until Thanksgiving).

"It's a question of discipline," the little prince told me later on. "When you've finished washing and dressing each morning, you must tend your planet."
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Divinipotent About Those Who Labor on Labor Day

"Make yourself necessary to somebody."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

While most of us relax with friends and family, Labor Day will be just another working day for police, firefighters, soldiers, farmers, foodworkers, doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and others who handle our emergencies and provide for our daily survival. Here's to them, and to those searching for work.

"Labor Day. A calendaric conundrum. A day we celebrate what it is we do for a living by taking the day off from work. That is so us."
~ Will Durst

Divinipotent About Sunday Drivers

"Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone driving faster than you is a maniac?"
~ George Carlin

Today, wherever the sun is shining, people will climb into their cars for a leisurely drive to anywhere, only to be surrounded by road-ragers, tailgaters, zigzaggers, weaving drunks, marathon talkers and texters. Some will have the sense to take the slow lane.

“Most of American life consists of driving somewhere and then returning home, wondering why the hell you went.”
~ John Updike

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Divinipotent About Lazy Days

Today millions of people will have the time to do exactly what they've been wanting to do or needing to do; for many, that will mean doing nothing at all.

"Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired."
~ Jules Renard

“You can't imagine what a pleasure this complete laziness is to me: not a thought in my brain — you might send a ball rolling through it!”
~ Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

Friday, September 4, 2009

Divinipotent About Summer's End

On the Friday of the final long weekend of summer, the cities will empty out, pouring their contents onto lake shores and ocean fronts; those left behind will revel in the silence and sense of space.

"If all the cars in the United States were placed end to end, it would probably be Labor Day Weekend." ~ Doug Larson

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Divinipotent About Insomnia

Today those who spent the night chasing sleep, but never catching it, will feel as if they could sleep all day.

A flock of sheep that leisurely pass by
One after one; the sound of rain, and bees
Murmuring; the fall of rivers, winds and seas,
Smooth fields, white sheets of water, and pure sky -
I've thought of all by turns, and still I lie
~William Wordsworth, "To Sleep"

Sleep is perverse as human nature,
Sleep is perverse as legislature....
So people who go to bed to sleep
Must count French premiers or sheep,
And people who ought to arise from bed
Yawn and go back to sleep instead.
~Ogden Nash

Divinipotent About Flu Season

This week, as the CDC takes its H1N1 preparedness message to the media, many will listen, some will tune out, some will claim it's a conspiracy, and some will continue sneezing in other people's faces.

For CDC news, consult Divinipotent Daily's handy H1N1 widget (at right under the heading, "Prognosticate About the Potential H1N1 Pandemic").