Merwin the mighty

One of the great privileges of my life — aside from being a husband and a father, of course — was meeting W.S. Merwin. He was eager to get home to Hawaii, to his wife, to his gardens, but we talked for about an hour while he was visiting Claremont McKenna College a few years ago. … Continue reading Merwin the mighty

Hard truths and honey: A mythic master class with Stephen Greenblatt

When you look at Botticelli's painting Primavera (detail,  above), what do you notice? Scantily-clad ladies dancing like they're at Woodstock? Images of the Eternal Feminine? Zephyrus wearing a creepy gray bogeyman costume? Stephen Greenblatt, author of Will in the World and The Swerve, notices something else entirely. For him, the painting contains a kind of … Continue reading Hard truths and honey: A mythic master class with Stephen Greenblatt

Two words that changed LBJ’s life

In fables and myths, we find plenty of moments when magic words come into play. Not a magic spell -- just a simple statement that unlocks hidden possibilities for somebody who really needs help. Think of abracadabra, open sesame or valar morghulis ... to name a few. In the case of Lyndon Johnson, 36th president … Continue reading Two words that changed LBJ’s life