Charles Bukowski Wrote on a Mac

And he loved it.

Charles Bukowski and the Computer

Charles Bukowski on the Mac II.
Note the beer, foreground.

On Christmas Day, 1990, Charles Bukowski received a Macintosh IIsi computer and a laser printer from his wife, Linda. The computer utilized the 6.0.7 operating system and was installed with the MacWrite II word processing program. By January 18 of the next year, the computer was up and running and so, after a brief period of fumbling and stumbling, was Bukowski. His output of poems doubled in 1991. In letters he remarked that he had more poems than outlets to send them to. The fact that several books of new poems appeared in the years following Bukowski’s death in 1994 can partially be attributed to this amazing burst of creative energy late in life. The Macintosh IIsi helped to enable this creative explosion.

Flying in the face of the adage “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” Bukowski kept an open mind about new technologies. Although he wondered if Dostoevsky would have ever used a computer or if he would lose his soul as a writer, Bukowski quickly realized the substantial benefits of the Macintosh and wondered how he ever wrote without one, considering the typewriter archaic. In correspondence, Bukowski championed his computer to friends, stating that they would never regret getting one for themselves. Linda signed Bukowski up for a computer class, and he went willingly, demonstrating his eagerness to master the new technology. A short time later, Bukowski characteristically claimed that he had a secret, foolproof system for dealing with his computer’s many shutdowns and malfunctions, much like he had a system at the racetrack.

The Gardener’s Rules of Life

Profoundly moved by this essay. I think I’ve re-read it a dozen times now since last week. Go check it out.

Go create something. But choose carefully. Build something that increases our chances to survive, even by a tiny margin. We desperately need to think not just about a zillionth social sharing gizmo. Maybe you will start building something like that, useful, but a bit futile. That’s ok. You may even get rich. The majority of people are working hard to fulfill other needs, without getting fame or great rewards. If you are reading this, you must already be part of the most privileged people in the world. And so you have a special responsibility. Money will just give you the means to build something bigger, to make a bigger difference for those who don’t have your chance. Keep your eyes on the target.

Look at your life. When you have children, you understand the brevity of life. You can remember vividly your infancy, yet you are not anymore a child, you are a father or a mother. Don’t you want your children to live in a better world ? Not just for the sake of comfort, but because otherwise, what would be the meaning of your life ? Just to reproduce what existed ? What’s the point ?

Finally, look beyond this small planet: life is rare, intelligence is rare. You have a responsibility to preserve it and make sure it will expand through the inert and indifferent universe. Not to conquer it, but to make it flourish. We all should be the gardeners of this universe, because we don’t know if we are the only ones to be able to. And obviously we have to respect our own planet, it’s the bare minimum we can do. Would you start by burning a garden when you’re supposed to grow other ones ?

Mark Twain’s autobiography

“ ‘From the first, second, third and fourth editions all sound and sane expressions of opinion must be left out,’ Twain instructed them in 1906. ‘There may be a market for that kind of wares a century from now. There is no hurry. Wait and see.’

“Twain’s decree will be put to the test when the University of California Press publishes the first of three volumes of the 500,000-word Autobiography of Mark Twain in November. Twain dictated most of it to a stenographer in the four years before his death at 74 on April 21, 1910. He argued that speaking his recollections and opinions, rather than writing them down, allowed him to adopt a more natural, colloquial and frank tone, and Twain scholars who have seen the manuscript agree.”
Larry Rohter reporting on Mark Twain’s Unexpurgated Autobiography (coming this November)

H/T John Lilly