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  • The Saunterer. That's me, H. Charles Romesburg, Professor in the Department of Environment and Society, Utah State University. As part of my research I saunter through the writings of especially creative people, keeping an eye open for insightful ideas on subjects that are joined with great goodness and creativity. I will in this blog present ideas from the writings of more than three hundred of these creators: painters, scientists, mathematicians, entrepreneurs, writers, poets, naturalists, actors, rock climbers and more. Among the subjects that will be covered: How workers in most every vocation and avocation can work as artists do, creating use, beauty, or both, of rare note. How regularly experiencing wild nature makes us better creators. How it is that the more all forms of life come to be revered, the more creative society will be. For some of the other subjects that will be covered, click on cnr.usu.edu/romesburg

« How to invite serendipitous discovery into your work | Main | Jack London on the pursuit of happiness in one’s career »

November 07, 2005


I’m suspicious of a phrase like,”something worthier and higher than his stomach”. I think London is off track. His distinction between finer and baser incentives rings false and mis diagnoses the problem. Maybe I just don’t like his metaphor, but I think it’s more than that, I think he presents a false dichotomy that leads us astray. Spiritual sweetness and incentive of the stomach are connected - two sides of a coin. You have to embrace both.

Having said that, what London calls “the gross gluttony of to-day” does refer to a problem that is real enough. Habits of indulgence and lack of discipline probably do hamper human development.

As to the question of where the USA stands - it’s clear to me that we are number 1 in gross gluttony. I’m less sure where we stand in sweetness and unselfishness . . .

On dichotomies, consider this from Thich Nhat Hanh:

“Defiled or immaculate. Dirty or pure. These are concepts we form in our mind. A beautiful rose we have just cut and placed in our vase is immaculate. It smells so good, so pure, so fresh. It supports the idea of immaculatedness. The opposite is a garbage can. It smells horrible, and it is filled with rotten things.

But that is only when you look on the surface. If you look more deeply you will see that in just five or six days, the rose will become part of the garbage. And if you look into the garbage can, you see that in a few months its contents can be transformed into lovely vegetables, and even a rose. “

Life is only about choices, isn't it?

London's stomach/nobility metaphor for short v. long term perspectives is an old one. According to one account, Esau traded his birthright to his younger brother Jacob for a bowl of lentils -- many would say that the consequences of that choice are still playing out today.

The problem, of course, is that wisdom isn't often confered on youth. As I recall, Jack London's early life was a pretty risky affair (see Tales of the Fish Patrol, for example). It's mostly old men (and fathers) who advocate for a long term perspective. Our fascination with gusto fades.

i justed wanted to know why did Jack London end his essay "What Life's means to ME"like that.What was his point for stating what he stated???? can anybody help me?

Dear Muffin,
The passage of Jack London's is not originally from an essay. It is from a letter he wrote which appears in his published letters (Stanford University Press). I took the passage out of context, capturing the part of it that does stand alone.

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Books by H. Charles Romesburg

  • H. Charles Romesburg: The Life of the Creative Spirit

    H. Charles Romesburg: The Life of the Creative Spirit
    Practically all of the quotations in this blog's posts are collected in "The Life of the Creative Spirit."

  • H. Charles Romesburg: How About It, Writer?

    H. Charles Romesburg: How About It, Writer?
    Based on a study of more than 12,000 essays from the very best literary magazines, this book provides writers with lists of thousands of classic forms of opening sentences, titles, transition sentences, ways of saying "for example," and ways of closing nonfiction pieces. When you are writing an essay and want a hint for a better or fresh way of saying what you mean, looking through the lists acts on the imagination, stimulating your creativity. From Lulu Press (ISBN 1-4116-2862-4, 194 pp., softback), it's $16.95 when ordered from Lulu.com/Romesburg , and $22.95 from bookstores. To view its cover, click on www.cnr.usu.edu/romesburg/how_about_it_writer.htm To view its title page, contents, and first two chapters, click on: www.cnr.usu.edu/romesburg/how_about_it_writer_preview.pdf

  • H Charles Romesburg: Best Research Practices

    H Charles Romesburg: Best Research Practices
    The Saunterer’s new book (2009), Best Research Practices explains how to plan and carry out reliable experiments, how to conceive and circumstantially support research hypotheses, how to test research hypotheses with the hypothetico-deductive method, how to discover cause and effect, and more. It’s based on his examination of 5,000 top scientific articles, studying the methods used to produce reliable knowledge. Preview it on-line by going to the following link: http://print.google.com/print?isbn=9780557017836

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