Exactly one day after the Fall 2010 semester ended, a student in my technical writing class appeared at my office door to explain why he had not submitted a major assignment. He had tried to start writing it, he told me, but, for some inexplicable reason, he found he “couldn’t be in the moment.”

 

Be in the moment! Now, I could have lectured him on the myth of writerly inspiration, that “one fell swoop” ideology created by the 18th-century romantics whereby the entire work descends, like a tongue of fire, upon an especially sensitive soul, a mystification of the writing process designed to elevate themselves to the level of the wealthy patrons upon whom they depended and to efface the self-abjection they felt because of that dependence.

But I did not lecture him, for I found that I… More…

A magnificent thing has been happening outside my window in Brooklyn. This past summer, I noticed vegetable gardens and fruit trees overwhelming the once-empty hull of yard behind my building. The paved patios have been blasted up and turned into thriving miniature farms. Gardens are being grown on the rusty fire escapes and tended by my young, overall-clad neighbors. Everything is getting greener, and leafier. Everything seems more… alive. A month ago, before the present frost hit, a gaggle of speckled birds I have never seen were casually tearing at the round fruits of a new tree. I’ve lived in my Brooklyn apartment for 14 years, long enough to turn from tenant to witness, so you’ll believe me when I tell you the change is considerable.

 

The results of the urban gardeners’ efforts are delightful and alluring. Even… More…