JOE: Good afternoon Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good afternoon Joe. Taking a break from your book writing?
JOE: Sort of. it’s not just break, I have a column due Saturday and have been working on it today.
CALLIOPE: Tell me more.
JOE: I have been wondering about violence and its place in our culture. I decided to write about the relationship between anger, violence and fear. It is quite a large topic and deserves at least a nook of its own. I don’t have time to write it now but thought it at least deserved a column.
CALLIOPE: Let me know when it is ready.
JOE: I will. That reminds me. I don’t think I told you about my last column on the power of mental illness and the power of love. You can find it in the sliding otter news section on my website at www.slidingotter.com.
CALLIOPE: Thanks. I’ll have a look.
JOE: Later. I hav more work to do before I rest.
Capturing human behavior
JOE: Good evening Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Vie gehts as your father would say.
JOE: I have very limited German but do understand that you are asking how things are going.
CALLIOPE: Very good. So, how goes it.
JOE: Very well. I took time off today for a memorial day parade and a service to honor the Service men and women and also attended a family picnic and cocktails with other relatives. But I have been working on references for my book. I am nearing the end of I Don’t, a contrarian history of marriage.
CALLIOPE: What have you been learning.
JOE: All the crazy (to me) machinations to control people by religions, cultures and governments in the name of marriage.
CALLIOPE: Are you getting a sense of where your book will head?
JOE: A little. I think this week I will need to start working on a list of possible topics to include in the book and give some thought as to how to organize them.
CALLIOPE: Sounds noble. Keep me posted.
JOE: You will the be first to know.
Cabin in the Woods
JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. How goes the research?
JOE: I made my way through the first seven library books. I am getting a good sense of prehistory and history especially regarding the cultural context of marriage.
CALLIOPE: What are you reading at the moment?
JOE: I am nearing the end of The Marriage-Go-Round by Andrew Cherlin. He gives a history of marriage in the US and compares it with how marriage is seen in Europe and other parts of the world.
CALLIOPE: Anything particularly revealing?
JOE: I liked his observation that in the US, we value both marriage and individual freedom, values which can be contradicting. As a consequence we have more marriages and divorces per capita.
CALLIOPE: Have you decided on an outline yet?
JOE: No, but I am starting to think about one. With fiction, I do not always know where I am headed, but with nonfiction, I like to plot my course so I don’t end up going around in circles.
CALLIOPE: Sounds sensible.
JOE: Glad you think so. I will let you know how it progresses.
St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter, New Orleans
JOE: Good morning, Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. We were on a roll. I wondered what became of you.
JOE: Sometimes life creeps up on me. I was very busy with personal and social obligations for a while. Finally life has settled down again.
CALLIOPE: Did you have to put aside your writing research?
JOE: I am happy to say that I did not although I had a little less time for it than at first.
CALLIOPE: How is the research coming?
JOE: I finished reading Sam Harris’s book, The Moral Landscape, a complex and intricate philosophy book delving into archeology and paleontology. My philosophical studies helped me cope with it. Then I moved on to Marvin Harris’s Cannibals and Kings: The Origins of Cultures, also detailed but easier to read.
CALLIOPE: I thought you book was going to be about marriage.
JOE: It is, but I thought an understanding of the development of culture would give me a good contextual background.
CALLIOPE: Is that happening?
JOE: I feel like it is but I guess that will not be obvious until the book is done.
CALLIOPE: Take your time and do a thorough job.
JOE: Advice I have received from others who care about me. And so, onward.
Capturing human behavior
JOE: Good afternoon, Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good afternoon, Joe. How goes the fray?
JOE: Fortunately not too frazzled. Yesterday I finished Graff’s book, What is Marriage For as well as Timothy Taylor’s The Prehistory of Sex.
CALLIOPE: Sounds ambitious. What were the results of your perusal?
JOE: I found a great deal of useful information in the first book and took copious notes. The second was quite interesting but not as relevant to my topic.
CALLIOPE: And today?
JOE: This morning I participated in a fundraising walk for the National Alliance on Mental Illness which does work very close to my professional and personal interests. The rest of the day, after some lawn mowing, was devoted to Sam Harris’s The Moral Landscape.
CALLIOPE: What delicacies have you discovered there.
JOE: Not so much delicacies and very important questions such as where our morality comes from and where it is headed. So far I have been reading about the implications of the standoff between religious conservatives and secular liberals. The thrust of this book appears so far geared to what science can teach us about our values and where they are taking us.
CALLIOPE: Sounds pretty heavy?
JOE: No question. It is quite a dense book. Although it does not focus specifically on marriage, it covers quite a bit of groundwork which should be helpful with my book.
CALLIOPE: Great. I can’t wait to see where all this takes you.
JOE: Neither can I but I am looking forward to the journey. P.S. I said I would give you a chance to see my newsletter, Untangling Marriage, Politics and Religion. It is available to muses as well as mortals for free at www.eepurl.com/mSt-P where you can try out my Sliding Otter Newsletter and continue for free if you like.
JOE: Good afternoon, Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good afternoon Joe. More news?
JOE: Just a brief note to update you and the readers who have taken interest in this project.
JOE: Thanks. Last night I finished reading What is Marriage For and today delved into The Prehistory of Sex. Both make fascinating reading. I have been taking notes and will soon have considerable grist for the mill.
CALLIOPE: That should keep you busy.
JOE: I also wrote a column called Untangling Marriage, Religion and Politics which will appear this Saturday. I will let you know when it is posted. Back to the grist.