The Cheapskate Intellectual

A journey through matters of spirit, sustainability, and self-reliance

R.I.P., Julian Sands (1958-2023).

It’s official: actor Julian Sands has passed at age 65, after disappearing while hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains. He was a great actor – and also a genuine aficionado of literature. His work offered me an artist’s great gift: a small-town kid’s early intuition that the world can be grand and beautiful beyond its […]

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Robert Frost’s telephone.

Bread Loaf Environmental Writers Conference, Ripton, Vermont On a hillside in Vermont, at the end of a gravel road, a wooden cabin near the treeline. Four apple trees. A meadow alive with butterflies, tall buttercups, and the low intent fronds of wild parsnip, which will flower by August in skin-blistering yellow stalks three feet high […]

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Fake Drake, boxing, and Byron.

“May you live in interesting times,” says an apocryphal Chinese curse. And for a Romanticist writing about Byron, boxing, and the celebrity culture of Regency England, the news that AI can now fake even more human creations is “interesting” indeed. Now AI has made a “song” by Drake and The Weeknd that neither artist authorized […]

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Almost too easy.

Teaching can be a challenge. But then life hands you an event that banishes questions about the “relevance” of multiple texts you’re teaching, all at once. Come for the Frankenstein, stay for the Half-Earth, Our Malady, and Nineteen Eighty-four. (With a side of Mrs. Dalloway – what IS that thing in the sky everyone’s looking […]

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Mycelia, manuscripts, and me: 360 degrees of life.

“[We must think of fungi] not as a thing but as a process: an exploratory, irregular tendency.” – Merlin Sheldrake, Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, and Shape Our Futures       Fungi burst borders and boundaries. Of matter, of thought, of mental categories. They tendril between previously discrete things […]

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