Interviewsand Articles


Thirty Issues Already: Editor's Introduction to Newsletter #30

by Richard Whittaker, Jan 30, 2014



If you think about Mary Stein’s short piece The Bear Under the Table it’ll grow on you. It’s deceptively simple, and profound at the same time. We know about hidden bears when it comes to advertising—as in, what’s the catch? But the bear under the table that Mary Stein writes about is quite a different animal. It’s like what Somik Raha’s favorite Stanford professor, Ron Howard, is talking about when he tells us that the awareness of our mortality is the thing most repressed in life. That’s a real bear under the table.
     Leading off this way can perhaps put everything in a different light. If we knew we were only going to live a few more days, how would that change our experience? Of course in a larger sense, the truth is, we’re only going to live a few more days. What professor Howard has to say about Buddhism and living has a clarity and refreshing quality that clearly reflects what I'm tempted to call close encounters of the real kind.
     In a way, the remaining pieces all share a quality that’s perfectly at home with a heighted awareness of this miraculous fact of being alive. There are seven little gems—three by Pavithra Mehta and four by Ron Hobbs, who are both poets. Some might object saying, “but these pieces are in prose.” And for those, let me quote Leonardo da Vinci. Talking about painting, he says, “It’s poetry that’s seen rather than felt.” And talking about poetry, he says, “It’s painting that’s felt rather than seen.” Which leads me to suggest that Ron’s and Pavi’s writing is poetry that’s both felt and seen!
     And the last piece in this issue, The Vital Image, is a long, fascinating and very thoughtful interview with two British artists, Michael Evans and David Parker. Can contemporary art still touch the sublime? That’s their question. All in all, a perfect one to be asking just now. Enjoy…   

About the Author

Richard Whittaker is the founding editor of works & conversations and West Coast editor of Parabola magazine


A Man Impossible to Classify One of my first experiences in San Francisco was of being flagged down by a ... Read More 720666 views

The Dumpster      “We can’t use these. They look like ... Read More 140389 views

Cotton and Silk Vorbeck quilt, detail I’m working on the last panel of a pair of ... Read More 8030 views

Say Grace I am deeply delighted to live on a planet that is so big and varied that I can ... Read More 4908 views

A Conversation with Silas Hagerty I met Silas, a young man in his twenties from New England, at a ... Read More 60403 views


A Man Impossible to Classify One of my first experiences in San Francisco was of being flagged down by a ... Read More 720666 views

Interview with Bill Douglass—Jimbo's Bop City and Other Tales At the time I'd first gotten to know the widely respected jazz musician Bill ... Read More 363112 views

Greeting the Light It was thanks to artist Walter Gabrielson that I was able to get in touch with ... Read More 293594 views

Interview: Gail Needleman Gail Needleman teaches music at Holy Names University in Oakland, California. ... Read More 188890 views

Interview: Stephen De Staebler John Toki encouraged me to interview his old friend and mentor, sculptor Stephen ... Read More 150246 views