Reading: At the beginning of the year, I set myself a goal of reading forty books during 2017. That’s the same number I read last year, which was my best total since 1997. As of today I’m at nineteen, so I’m more or less on track. Among the books I’ve read in the last few months are The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, James Gleick’s Time Travel: A History (I took many notes while reading this, and hope to write about it before very long), How To Be Everything by Emelie Wapnick, the collection of Haruki Murakami short stories Men Without Women, the first volume of My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgård, and Hanya Yanagihara’s The People in the Trees.
Viewing: For whatever reason, I’ve found myself drawn to nature documentaries recently. I’ve worked my way through the series Planet Earth and Frozen Planet, and may next go back to an old favorite from years ago, The Living Planet. Yes, I’ve probably heard Sir David Attenborough’s voice more than my own in recent weeks. A few films have found their way into my viewing as well, including the French film Henri, Gus Van Sant’s The Sea of Trees, the rather charming We Bought a Zoo, David Lean’s classic Brief Encounter (a longtime personal favorite), and both Martin Scorsese’s and Masahiro Shinoda’s film versions of Shusako Endo’s novel Silence. As for art, during a recent trip to San Francisco I was able to see the exhibitions Tomb Treasures: New Discoveries from China’s Han Dynasty at the Asian Art Museum, Matisse/Diebenkorn at SFMOMA, and Monet: The Early Years at the Legion of Honor.
Listening: Aside from listening I’ve had to do for the occasional program note writing, I’ve been listening to and enjoying Penguin Cafe’s most recent album The Imperfect Sea, Mare Nostrum by Hespèrion XXI and Jordi Savall, and Michael Habermann’s recordings of the music of Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji that were reissued not long ago by Naxos.
Blogging: This is my first blog post in about four months, and my first since taking on the job of Executive Director of the Reno Chamber Orchestra on March 1. Whether this is simply a check-in or a return to regular blogging remains to be seen. My tendency, however, to spend my free time worrying about work rather than doing anything productive (say, writing) is not a helpful one.
Pondering: Oddly, but perhaps not paradoxically, I have found myself openly discussing my feelings, my deepest concerns and interests, much less in the last three or four months – when my job has forced me to be in social settings a lot of the time – than I did during the previous year of very solitary unemployment. In fact, I pretty much never have a serious conversation anymore.
And finally: According to the Population Reference Bureau, something like 107.6 billion people have lived in the course of our planet’s history. The current population of the world passed 7.5 billion on April 24 of this year. Therefore, about 7% of the people who have ever lived are alive right now. Just so you know…