Jan 30, 2013

Moved on over to Tumblr

Dear Readers of this blog:

Thanks for visiting. I've been on Blogger now since 2006, and while I won't be closing this blog down--never throw anything away, a wise writing professor once told--I have moved my base of operations to Tumblr. Come check me out over there at: http://davidgriffith.tumblr.com I moved because the nature of my soon-to-be-completed book Pyramid Scheme: Making Art and Being Broke in America, is inspired by many images, and Tumblr is hands-down the best platform for that sort of thing. You can also find info about me as a teacher and arts administrator on my Wordpress blog: http://dgriffith.blog.sbc.edu

If you have visited this blog because you are interested in my book A Good War is Hard to Find, then feel free to comb through the archives. If you're interested in going way back to the origins of my book, then check out the very first blog I started http://goodwar.blogspot.com, where I first began taking notes that would lead to the book. I'm happy to say that the book continues to have a nice life out there independent of me; in fact, the attention given to Kathryn Bigelow's controversial new film Zero Dark Thirty, had led some back to it. I'm working on a review of the film as we speak.

Thanks to the 7,135 people who have visited this blog. Hope to see you on Tumblr.



Nov 4, 2011

Image ◊ Good Letters: The IMAGE Blog ◊ I Am the 99%

Check out my latest post over at IMAGE's Good Letters blog. It's the most explicit statement about poverty and creativity I've been able to muster yet. I don't know why, but my Midwestern upbringing always makes me pause before writing about personal finances. I was raised to believe--and I still believe this--that one should be thankful because there are always people worse off than you.

So, for what it's worth....

Image ◊ Good Letters: The IMAGE Blog ◊ I Am the 99%

Oct 5, 2011

Revisiting Abu Ghraib. This time in the class room.

This semester I'm honored to be teaching in Sweet Briar College's new Y:1 pilot program, a first-year seminar program that introduces students to the academic rigor we expect, while also helping them to become more digitally sophisticated. All of the students receive iPad2s for participating in the program, which they then must use to complete many of the course assignments.

I'm teaching a course titled "9/11 and the 'New Normal' Decade" with Spencer Bakich, a Professor of International Relations. He's a political scientist by training and I'm trained as a fiction writer, though my first book, A Good War is Hard to Find, (and second, which I'm finishing up now) are both nonfiction. So we both bring very different approaches to the table.

The theme for the Y:1 program is "Testing Tolerance," and so all four sections of the first-year seminar engage with it in some way or another. There's a course on the issue of Muslim immigration in Europe, Empire, and a course on the development of modern science, which covers a many of the foundational discoveries by Middle Eastern thinkers.

In order to drive home some of the larger themes that cut across all four sections of the seminar, we have programmed a film series. Tonight we will be showing Errol Morris' Standard Operating Procedure. I will introduce the film and lead discussion afterward.

It's been five years since I published my book on Abu Ghraib, and so returning to the incident and the issues that it raised (and still raises), has been surprisingly unsettling. Re-watching Morris' film last night, I felt a familiar outrage creeping in, a feeling that is very difficult to control. I'm going to do my best this evening to present the case of Abu Ghraib in as objective a light as possible, but I make no promises. It's even clearer to me now, eight years after the incidents took place, that the abuses inflicted by military police and interrogators was not the work of a "few bad apples," but driven by policy authorized by the highest levels of government.

It is also clearer to me now that close scrutiny of the motives for taking the hundreds of photographs which fueled the scandal are, as Susan Sontag wrote in her essay "Regarding the Torture of Others," a reflection of American cultural values that exist just beneath our otherwise benevolent surface. This is not to say that America and Americans are evil, but it is to say--and Morris' film reveals this over and over--that America's moral courage has been degraded.

Mar 26, 2011

Nov 23, 2010

Image ◊ Good Letters: The IMAGE Blog ◊ The Tablet and the Field

Check out my latest post over at Good Letters: The IMAGE blog. This is one is adapted from an essay I'm working on for my book, Pyramid Scheme: Making Art and Being Broke in America.

Image ◊ Good Letters: The IMAGE Blog ◊ The Tablet and the Field

Aug 6, 2010

Pictures of the Floating World: On the Occasion of the 65th Anniversary of the Bombing of Hiroshima

Hard to believe it's been 5 years since I wrote this essay about Hiroshima and John Hersey's masterful book dramatizing the lives of some of the survivors. Here's the original essay. It never appeared in any journal or magazine because I wrote in very late in the process of writing the book.

Aug 3, 2010

More Orwell (Kind of like more cow bell)

Look, please indulge me while I just type out some more of the parts I have underlined in Down and Out--it's helping me get inspired to finish revising:

And there is another feeling that is great consolation in poverty. I believe everyone who has been hard up has experienced it. It is a feeling of relief, almost of pleasure, at knowing yourself at last genuinely down and out. You have talked so often of going to the dogs--and well, here are the dogs, and you have reached them, and you can stand it. It takes off a lot of anxiety.

From a section where Orwell and his friend Boris are looking for work. Boris gives him this advice:

"Appearance--appearance is everything, mon ami. Give me a new suit and I will borrow a thousand francs by dinner-time. What a pity I did not buy a collar when we had money. I turned my collar inside out this morning; but what is the use, one side is as dirty as the other. Do you think I look hungry, mon ami?"
"You look pale."
"Curse it, what can one do on bread and potatoes? It is fatal to look hungry. It makes people want to kick you. . ."
He stopped at the jeweller's window and smacked his cheeks sharply to bring the blood into them. Then before the flush has faded, we hurried to into the restaurant and introduced ourselves to the patron.