Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Learning To Be....

A new book has just come out from Codhill Press, on which I had the good fortune to be the editor. Learning To Be Human is by Jason Stern, publisher of Chronogram magazine. It is comprised of selections from thirteen years of Jason's monthly Esteemed Reader column, in which he addressed the matters on his mind from the perspective of Awakening.

What a pleasure it was for me to edit this book! The project came at just the right time in my beginning studies of nonduality. I'm grateful for the growth experience, as well as the work.

I’ve been a regular reader of Chronogram since 1995 and always enjoyed Jason’s column, so it’s not farfetched to imagine that I had read all of these essays, one at a time, each in its original context. Depending on my own state of mind every month, some were memorable, perhaps even profound; others less so. They came like baseballs from a pitching machine, each replacing the one before it. Other readers probably felt the same way.

However, there is an entirely different, more powerful, experience awaiting the reader of this collection. I began to sense that fact as I sifted through years of raw material, rejected, selected, rearranged, and tweaked these pieces, laboring to bring them coherently together into one volume. But it was not until I took a final full pass through the compilation, from beginning to end, that I realized the new power in these pages, the impact of each essay amplified by its juxtaposition to all the others. By being gathered from multiplicity into oneness, the disparate segments are transformed. It was Aristotle in the Metaphysics who gave us this gem: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

This rebirth works on several levels. First, subverting the linear march of monthly installments twists time back on itself. A book carries a simultaneity that a periodical cannot, so one experiences its content in a sort of suspended present. It’s more Now-ish.

More important, immersion in the concentrate of the author’s thought makes it tangible. Vision clears. It becomes plain that there is a deeply-felt unity of philosophy running through these explorations. They are all “of a piece.” In some, the spine is developing, in others it’s fully formed. The work is both introspective and world-engaged, both reasoned and passionate. The ideas here are mined from the deepest veins in every wisdom tradition of the world. This is not scattershot column-scribbling that makes topical glances on the way to meeting publication deadlines.

And finally, one of the real pleasures of reading these thoughts gathered from across the years is the almost journal-like sense of the author's voice, spirit, and personal trajectory. His past, his interests, his family. It is a peek into another’s life, to which we’ve been invited with heart. This is something to be approached with reverence. You will experience, as I did, the privilege of getting to know another human being a little better.

Thanks, Jason, for being my teacher.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Editing - Design - Video

A new partnership is about to launch. I’m building on the independent publishing knowledge I’ve gained over the last decade, plus the intense writing focus that started a decade earlier, plus the professional video experience that began over a decade before that (we’re talking all the way back to the late ‘70s now). Add to those the top-notch graphic design and typography skills of my friend, Joe Tantillo, another seasoned veteran with independent publishing history, and the result is our new venture, Indie Book Studio. We’ll be offering editing, design, file prep, and video services to self-publishing authors and small presses. The web site is not ready to be unveiled just yet, but watch for my announcement soon. Meanwhile, here are two video trailers I produced for my friend Djelloul Marbrook’s award-winning poetry book, Far From Algiers. I like how the atmospheric first poem, “Flutes of the Djinn,” carries a powerful nonduality message in its final lines, and the second, “Autobiography,” embodies the wisdom of compassion for our child selves.