Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Marilynne Robinson

I eagerly awaited Kim Hill’s interview with Marilynne Robinson, author of Housekeeping, Gilead and the recently published Home. I am planning a re-read of Gilead (which I described to a friend as ‘luminous’) and am looking forward to reading Home (hopefully when it comes out in paperback!).

Two comments in particular resonated. Marilynne Robinson talked about the present day need for everybody to be ‘madly productive in some sort of economically quantifiable sense’. She felt that ‘people have allowed themselves to be talked out of time’. That ‘a responsible person’ can no longer sit around merely thinking. A ‘work ethic gone mad’. She argued that ‘to be a human being, to live through your little arc of time, to have the thoughts you have, is a great privilege’ which people have bartered away for the busy and the trivial.


In academic life I saw thinking – quiet contemplation –increasingly being sidelined by the imperative to produce. Everything – teaching, research, learning – was being reduced to the measurable. And I realised that I didn’t want to spend my life being measured, accountable, compliant…

Robinson also talked of ‘an openness to the mysteries of experience’ and the need to move beyond rationality to the recognition of a larger, more complex reality. These thoughts will send me to her collection of essays (title?) and further contemplation.


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