Where Does the Wind Come From?

“Where does the wind come from?” my son asked. I wetted my finger and stuck it in the air. A mild and gentle breeze cooled one side of it. “That side,” I said, pointing nowhere. “OK,” he said.

Afterward, I thought about the problem that arose from the question, “Where does the wind come from?” The wind doesn’t really blow from one mouth. Even rivers don’t have just the one mouth. Rivers are constructed by their surroundings: the mountains, the rain, nearby lakes, and the ocean, to name but a few. There is no origin. Similarly, the wind comes from everywhere and nowhere. 

Perhaps everything comes from there: from nowhere.

Read the rest of the essay in Sky Island Journal

Is this the right way?

Late one August evening in a small provincial town, a woman steps out her front door. In her hand, she holds a slim leather briefcase, probably containing a laptop. When she steps down from the small landing in front of the door, a mild breeze fills the air, gently tousling her long blond tresses. She tries to pull her hair back behind her ears without any luck. From the back pocket of her jeans she pulls out a bandeau and ties those unruly locks into a simple ponytail. Now, with no hair interrupting her vision, she looks first to the right and then to the left before turning around to lock the door behind her. After checking twice that the door really is locked, she rotates to face the street for the second time. 

This time she looks to the left first. Actually, at this point, her whole body shifts as she evaluates the possibility of going in that direction. 

Is this the right way? 

Read the rest of the essay in Terse Journal.

Mona Lisa Smiled

In 1996, I saw the Mona Lisaat the Louvre in Paris. Standing there in front of the painting, I heard – like many before and after me have heard – an American woman say, “It’s so small.”

The woman was disappointed. She came from a culture where something was being evaluated based on its size. Hearing her, I felt disgusted. As I turned around, I saw—with joy and satisfaction—that she was fat and wearing clothing of no particular style, along with a yellow cap with a guide logo on it. She was part of group wearing identical caps. She didn’t want to get lost. 

Read the rest of my essay in Critical Read

Frankie Says Relax

There is a photo of my older brother on the shelf behind my desk. It has been taken in a hospital. There is a handle hanging by the side of his head so that he can pull himself up. My brother is standing (or is he sitting on the bed?). He is smiling because he is holding his newborn daughter in his arms.

The father has a proud gaze, which I recognize in myself. The small baby lies safely tucked under his right armpit, meticulously wrapped in a white terrycloth hand towel. I can make out some of the caption on the black T-shirt my brother is wearing: Frankie Says Relax. 

Exactly why Frankie from the pop group Frankie Goes to Hollywood said ‘relax,’ I don’t know. But I have often thought about whether the message was more one of resignation or resistance. I have looked at the message on this shirt as if it was some kind of meaningful sign, no doubt because my brother died barely two years after this photo was taken.

A writer must say ‘yes’ to life, to all forms of life. The writer is loyal to that which happens, because the moment is important. Each moment is filled with life.

Read the rest of the essay here

Philosophy as fiction

“For me, philosophy is a way of living and not an academic discipline that requires you to swallow a certain amount of information to pass. Most great novelists are philosophers. The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard once said that literature in order to become philosophy must become fiction. I like that. It also shows that the distinction between philosophy and literature is rather new—perhaps stemming from Kant—but does it matter if Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, de Beauvoir, and all the others are classified as philosophers or writers?”

Read the rest of the interview in Under the Gum Tree.