How to Play Poker
Obama never played for high stakes. Only on a very bad night could a player drop two hundred dollars in these games, typical wins and losses being closer to twenty-five bucks. [A friend] describes Obama as being a “calculating” cardplayer, avoiding long-shot draws and patiently waiting for strong starting hands. “When Barack stayed in, you pretty much figured he’s got a good hand,” former Senator Larry Walsh once told a reporter, neglecting to note that maintaining that sort of rock-solid image made it easier for Obama to bluff. (James McManus in the February 4 New Yorker.)
Process Reflection: Granted, these aren’t my words, but they are words that I was thinking about as I sat down to write in my journal this morning (note the old-fangled cut-and-paste job in the picture at left), and again as I sat down to do this blog entry this evening. I was actually thinking about writing a how-to poem; it was fresh in my mind because of the post today at Ken Ronkowitz's Poets Online site, and it’s an exercise that I’ve asked my students to do at various times with various models. But as I was getting ready to start, I got thinking, hey wait, there’s already a little mini-essay teed up and waiting from the McManus article in the New Yorker, and it’s about the right length. So here it is, 100 words with several layers of thoughtprovokingness (literal, metaphorical, political, and rhetorical, for starters.)
For those of you with eagle eyes and active curiosity, the other quote, in red on the left hand side of the page, is from David Foster Wallace’s characteristically funny and brilliant introduction to Best American Essays 2007:
Writing-wise, fiction is scarier, but nonfiction is harder — because nonfiction’s based in reality, and today’s felt reality is overwhelmingly, circuit-blowingly huge and complex. Whereas fiction comes out of nothing. Actually, so wait: the truth is that both genres are scary; both feel like they’re executed on tightropes, over abysses — it’s the abysses that are different. Fiction’s abyss is silence, nada. Whereas nonfiction’s abyss is Total Noise, the seething static of every particular thing and experience, and one’s total freedom of infinite choice about what to choose to attend to and represent and connect, and how, and why, etc.
Amen to that.