Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"Actionable Intelligence" Discussion

It's fine to talk about what you think of the piece, but we'd like to focus on what the piece makes you think about. Some questions to start:  

Which of Penny's proverbs stand out to you as unusually witty or wise? Why?

Who is this poem talking to? If someone ran across this poem five hundred years from now, what assumptions might they make about the society it was written in?

What sayings might you add to such a collection?

16 comments:

  1. To "Teenagers are worth it. Dogs are not." I would add "Neither are cats."

    My favorite (though I enjoyed them all, and I loved the spirit of the piece) was this one:

    "Knock and someone will open. Unless they don’t. Knock anyway. Politely."

    I think it wonderfully suggests a brilliant life attitude of optimism and realism and civility all at the same time. It's acting in faith and work but recognizing that you won't always get what you want. Callooh callay!

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    1. We had snakes, lizards, fish, and a turtle at various times when I was young, but stuck to "our siblings are our pets" when friends asked if we wanted a cat or dog.

      I'd never thought much about what deeper attitudes civility comes from, but optimism+realism sounds right. We need civility most when people disappoint us, but we choose civility in part out of a confidence that things will turn out all right in the end.

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  2. Oh, and I really think "true love is the greatest thing, in the world--except for a nice MLT" would fit nicely. In fact, the tone of the whole piece reminds me a little of the wisdom in Princess Bride (though I'm thinking of the book version more than the movie). Stuff that is humorous but true.

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  3. Emily Harris AdamsMay 14, 2013 at 2:26 PM

    I also enjoyed the line:

    "Knock and someone will open. Unless they don’t. Knock anyway. Politely."

    I think sometimes we take proverbs to seriously or apply them too broadly. We forget that it was Jesus, the one and only perfect person, who told us: Knock and it shall be opened unto you. Christ will always answer the door, but other people might leave you on the doorstep. And then to be ok with that? That's true optimism, I think. To see the world as it is and choose to act in faith and goodwill.

    I also liked:

    "Feelings are not facts, but they feel like it."

    Because, yes, they do. And it takes quite a lot of effort to separate the two sometimes.

    Too many good lines to quote, really. I like that James called them Penny's Proverbs, because to me it read very much like the book of proverbs did.

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    1. Proverbs is surprisingly good light reading. Glad to have found out that you're a fellow Book of Proverbs fan.

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  4. Jonathon's story from last year's Lit Blitz was one of my favorites, and this poem is another strong piece.

    I'm definitely a fan of his work.

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    1. All I can say is this, Scott: golly gee whiz! (Thanks!)

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  5. I think that some which speak particularly to my time and place are:

    "Waste mocks want. Haste makes it."
    -highly relevant in an affluent society built around rapid cycles of consumption.

    "We want the same things, unless what you want is sinister or twisted, in which case we do not want the same things."
    -I think this speaks particularly to our time. We're willing to be inclusive and assume that everyone is basically the same...except when groups have stark differences in what they want, at which point the generous, inclusive attitude tends to be replaced by shock and disdain.

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  6. "Respect and deference are not the same.
    Deference and submission are not the same."

    Oh. My heart needs to learn this.

    I also loved

    "Knock and someone will open. Unless they don’t. Knock anyway. Politely."

    Thank you, Jonathon. And your poem, Let your Grief be clean, let it be wise and warm.... that has been circling in my mind for weeks. When you write a book, I will read it.

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    1. A pleasure, Sarah, especially to hear that "Grief" is still kicking around your mind and heart. I'll get to work on the book.

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  7. James, I also loved the "We want the same things" proverb. It does seem to cut to the heart of so many of the divisive and angry debates people have been engaging in lately, especially. It's the answer we eventually come to.

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  8. I think my two favorites are the "Children have to be raised. Spouses need to be uplifted" and "Money doesn’t matter, unless you don’t have any. Happiness doesn’t matter as much as you think, unless you don’t have any."

    I like the parallelism of the first as well as the juxtaposition - the word play alone is beautiful. The meaning is as multi-layered as the syntax. How do we guide children to adulthood rather than simply babysit them until they grow up? Likewise, do we accept our familial duty to encourage and support our spouses? Such wonderful food for thought.

    The second couplet resonates because I've been in the position of having neither money nor happiness (sometimes simultaneously). Blithe comments that are probably meant to be encouraging ("anyone can live within a budget") end up placing blame. Happiness, like financial prosperity, is often easily taken for granted as well, and in many ways being bankrupt of happiness is far worse than being financially strapped. Very insightful!

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  9. The thing that most struck me about the poem in general is that I can remember specific instances in my own life when I've come to exactly the same conclusions, if not so pithily expressed. Because of that, it feels very Mormon to me in its outlook. Although it's definitely more universal than that. My favorite line: "Peace is a decision, not a consequence." What an empowering realization that is. I wish I could teach it to so many dear friend and family members. They would be so much happier.

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  10. I am not Jonathon. I am Jonathon's brother.

    I enjoyed the combination of advice and humour.

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  11. You took sayings that I would probably hear from my mother and turned them into something I wouldn't mind saying to other people.

    Madison Beckstrand

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  12. "Cheaters occasionally prosper, but they eventually feel bad."

    Confession. I've been casting judgement on someone I consider to be a prospering cheater and I hope they feel bad. Because I sorta feel jealous and might wish that I were cheating in the same way. Instead though I'll just have to cling to my smug, unrighteous judgement, and keep telling myself that I'm morally superior. (Yeah, I'm not very good at the great commandments.)

    "Love given is love received. Love received is love given.
    Give and receive gracefully."

    Also, I liked this one, "Rebirth is symbolic, not literal, and needn’t be avoided on those grounds."

    It first made me think of people who didn't want to be baptized because they were afraid of the water. I kind of wanted to tell them that water was the least of their worries with joining the church. Also I had a crazy pregnancy dream once that my unborn baby had been born and grew quite large and then the doctor wanted to put him back in the womb. I think it was reasonable that I objected.

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