A (Missed) Shoutout for Rhetoric: Memory Places in a Cal Newport Self-Help Book

I’ve been reading Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport. It is fantastic. I commend it to all of you. It has led me to transform many of my work habits. At the same time, I found myself laughing and then groaning when my very own academic discipline and …

Patterns

Patterns crawl up the walls of the Blue Mosque. Painted vines spring from ceramic tiles in endless loops, flowers blooming between them. Intricate spirals originate at the bottom of the wall and repeat over and over until they reach the arching dome high above, where blue, red, and gold swirl together in stunning symmetry. A …

The Spiritual Life of the Mind

I’ve been listening to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s biography by Robert D. Richardson, subtitled: “The Mind on Fire.” Richardson wrote an intellectual biography on Henry Thoreau as well, called: “A Life of the Mind.” Perhaps because those phrases were foremost in my subconscious—resonating with me, exciting me, and providing motivation during the past year as I’ve …

The BYU Humanities Center at 10: A Few Last Thoughts, Personal and Institutional

It was BYU’s university conference week in late August 2011, and I was feeling a little nostalgic. And anxious. I was at the college meeting for faculty for what I anticipated was the last time. My family had returned a couple months earlier from Aberdeen, Scotland – the second of our half-yearly stints where I …

Creative Translating: My College Experience as Source Text

This is my last semester at BYU–last week, actually–and as happens with any big change, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting and a lot of speculating about what the future will bring. In my poetry class, our most recent assignment was to translate a portion of Dante’s Divine Comedy, which we’ve been reading throughout …

Dear Mom

Dear Mom~ The other day I read an article in the news about parents in Tennessee and elsewhere rallying to have books removed from their teens’ school libraries—books that reference race, sexuality, or the Holocaust in ways that made them (the parents) uncomfortable. I wondered how those kids felt, watching their parents on social media …