I hope everyone vigorously rings in the new year 

I started reading ‘the soul of veere,’ a Belgian short story by lemonnier that starts something like this: a girl asked me if I heard the boy playing his little tunes, and I thought, good heavens, who would be so foolish to do that here? 

Well, I say sing your tunes or whatever racket you want to make as loudly and lively as possible tonight, wherever you are! 

I heartily recommend everyone read Christmas books by Dickens

The stories are all powered by theme of redeeming memories- the good, the bad, and the ugly memories- with A Christmas Carol being the shining example (the rest of the stories being in the same league, though, especially The Haunted Man). That the reformation of Scrooge in A Christmas Carol and Redlaw in the Haunted Man is truly the difference between life in death is lost or not fully appreciated by many readers- a deathly horrifying shackled experience for Scrooge and a zombielike experience for Redlaw, or the joy and freedom of a life lived to the fullest. 

Shakespeare’s winter tale is the same: they’re stories about coming back from the dead

The big year and the inner ring

The scene with Jack Black’s character and his dad when they stumble upon an owl in the woods makes me happy. That movie is a simple and profound meditation on different kinds of ambition. There is the deadly conformity of any circle that makes you lie and act like someone you aren’t, then there’s the deadly personal ambition that drives you to be the best and stand above others, and then there is the divine circle of people who purely enjoy a craft because it makes them happy and gravitate towards and pull people into a circle that C S Lewis describes in his essay the inner ring: where everyone embraces you for love of the craft and the sake of the pleasure they feel from the craft. 

(I’ve written about my fondness for handicraft forums like cigar box and homespun instruments for this reason- it’s absolute goodwill) 

I’ve read articles calling everything a brand, including people and nations

A brand is defined as 1. Product manufactured by a company under a particular name or 2. Identifying mark of property. It seems everything and everyone is described as a brand now- ‘you need to build your brand and network’- well, if you are your brand that means you are a slave to yourself, and nobody is happy with that master. 

On David Adams Richards’s monumental moral landscape on the banks of the Miramichi

David Adams Richards’s stories are teeming with life, from heroes who find freedom by finding the light of a map and following it by heart;cowardly low lives on skid row as well as in universities, who lie and corrupt others, stumbling around alone in the dark; to rough characters who grip onto and bash into friends in the dark, and all the combinations and permutations between those possibilities. 

There is a glow from the divine beauty and intercession that glows with varying degrees over the fallen world. Why do good things happen to bad people and bad to good in his Miramichi world? Well, it’s because of the slings and arrows of fortune in a messed up world and because of human freedom and frailty that darkens that glow. Still, the glow brightens after a bad man lives but changes his heart because of his memory of a good person who died because of the vices of others.