Cloister Commentary, Day 228: Countdown to Ecstasy

We deliberately chose to indulge in activities to distract us from election coverage. I can’t speak perfectly for Nicole, but I think she agrees: we both had enough tension, dread, and other varieties of stress crackling down to our nerve endings without channeling in more noise and numbers.

The most effective of those activities was listening to a chunk of the audiobook of Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild and Other Stories. We’d started it on a recent road trip, then I loved it so much I secretly finished it on my Kindle. Nicole forgave me that, and we were quite literally transfixed (a major improvement on mere distraction) by “Speech Sounds,” “Crossover,” and the dazzling, haunting, dryly (and wickedly) humorous “Amnesty.” As soon as we finished the latter of those–they were all three even better the second time ’round–Nicole turned to me, shaking her head in amazement, and said, “That was incredible.” I proferred (I hadn’t previously realized it), “She’s one of the very best writers of the last 50 years, easily.” Funny: I learn about great writers by reading great writers and reading about great writing, and I obsessively seek them out after I get a clue–but it’s only been in the last 7-8 years that I’ve seen Butler’s name come over my transom. I have a few of my Stephens colleagues and students to thank for that. I encourage you to get familiar with her yourself.

We made it until 10 before we felt obliged to check the election’s progress. I saw no surprises other than in a few local races, which I considered with very, very measured hope. That was smart, because their directions completely changed. Fortunately, when I woke up in the middle of the night, I didn’t reach for my phone.

Streaming for Strivers:

I am less disciplined, at present, in containing my sarcasm.