It was a dark and stormy night…

First published in 1962, Madeleine L’Engle’s novel ‘A Wrinkle in Time‘ is now celebrating the 50th anniversary of its publication.  I read the Newbery Medal-winning classic not so long after it was first published and was so enamored with the story I wrote the publisher to request copies of any advertising posters.  I was thrilled when they arrived in the post a few weeks later.

It was a dark and stormy night…
–A Wrinkle in Time

L’Engle became one of the favorite authors of my adolescence.  I would later read her other books in the Time Quartet series as well as books in the Polly O’Keefe series and the Austin family series.

L’Engle wrote stories of good versus evil that had a depth beyond that found in much juvenile fiction of the time.  She inspired me to read other authors of juvenile literature including Susan Cooper and Lloyd Alexander.

Publisher: Macmillan 50th Anniversary Commemorative Edition

In a time of destruction, create something

Carolyn sent me this poem by Maxine Hong Kingston:

Children, everybody, here’s what to do during war:

In a time of destruction, create something.
A poem.
A parade.
A community.
A school.
A vow.
A moral principle.
One peaceful moment.

-maxine hong kingston

Moving in its simplicity and naivete.   According to Wikipedia:

Maxine Hong Kingston (Chinese: 湯婷婷; born October 27, 1940) is an American Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley where she graduated with a BA in English in 1962. She is both a prolific academic and autobiographical writer.


How Web is different from Print

Blogs, or weblogs, are electronic extensions of traditional print journals and diaries.  We blog to share our thoughts with others in the “virtual realm”, to seek out those who believe as we do: The art of one human relating to another.

How does this new electronic medium affect the nature of our writing?  In moving from a print and hardcopy environment to an electronic one, What is lost?  What is gained?

There is a difference. Blog posts are usually shorter, less detailed, perhaps more frequent than their hardcopy equivalents.  And blog posts are permanent.  A print diary page can be torn out and destroyed, journal writings crossed out and erased.  The method of distribution also differentiates Web from print.  Blog posts can be distributed to a potentially infinite audience, while a print journal entry can be shared with an individual or small group.

Linking, and especially deep linking, is a Web-unique activity that distinguishes Web from print, and transforms the nature of Web-based writing.  A link is a powerful tool that immediately brings in content from an external source, information that can color and affect our writing, altering the reader’s experience.

Author Gerry McGovern addresses the question, What makes the Web different from print?

We need to carefully answer this last question because otherwise we are in danger of approaching the Web with our print-thinking and print-techniques. We are in danger of saying: ‘This is what quality writing is,’ when really what we are saying is: ‘This is what quality print writ1ing is.’

Here are some of the ways the Web is different from print:

The Web is about links. Print is about units of content. A 500-word article, a book, a magazine, a report. Print writing is often a solitary task. The Web is about linking. We’re linking one piece of content to another. We’re linking the consumer of the content with its producer.
The Web is a functional, task-oriented place. We come to the Web to do, and we already have the context when we get to the website. Print lends itself to length and because print is physically going out to the reader, it tends to have lots of contextual language. The Web is bare, hermetic, pared-down-an ugly but useful place.
The Web is about the customer trying to find the content, rather than the content trying to find the customer. The Web turns much of advertising and marketing on its head. You must know the words your customers use when they search. Otherwise you are lost.
The Web is about permanence. Over time, most print content degrades, dissolves, disappears. Try finding that brochure you published in print in 2003. But if you put it up on your website, it’s still there. This is the great blind spot of web teams. Review and remove.
The Web is a process. Print is an event. You get it all together and then you publish. And then it’s over. Job done. On the Web it’s job begun. The print and IT culture of launch and leave is a ruinous strategy on the Web. Great websites involve continuous improvement of your top tasks.
The Web is about the customer. It is not about the control of elites. It is about the wisdom of crowds, the collective intelligence. At the center of the Web is the customer, not the organization. It is about the things the customer wants to do, not the things the organization wants to do to the customer.


Where art takes on life


Art in America Front Page

I’m a great fan of the art magazine and subscribe to several. “The magazine is the place where art takes on life, and speaks to the masses.”* Here are five of my favorites.

Art in America
“Each month, Art in Americacreates a fascinating picture of the colorful, ever changing, often controversial art scene here and abroad. You’ll find everything from contemporary to classical …painting, sculpture, photography…critiques of exciting new talents and important new books.” And with writers like Peter Plagens, what’s there not to like? Good articles and illustrations. Unfortunately there’s no content on the website.

American Arts Quarterly
American Arts Quarterly supports today’s burgeoning cultural revival by championing creative individuals in a variety of artistic disciplines. Our authors explore the legacy and current practice of figurative painting and sculpture, the civic and symbolic ideal in architecture and memorials, formal and narrative poetry, structural melody and tonality in music, and demonstrable standards in arts education. The journal is available free of charge to artists, scholars and related professionals. For a complimentary one-year subscription, send your request to:” One of my favorites.


American Arts Quarterly Winter 2006 cover

“Founded in 1902, ARTnews is the oldest and most widely circulated art magazine in the world. Its readership of 200,000 in 123 countries includes collectors, dealers, historians, artists, museum directors, curators, connoisseurs, and enthusiasts.” What more is there to say? Online content.

artnews-march-2008-cover.jpg amartrevcover_c.jpg

American Art Review
American Art Reviewchronicles the emergence and growth of American painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture and decorative arts . . . with intelligence, sensitivity, style, authority and historical insight.” American art! But again no online content.

The Magazine Antiques
Antiques and art: What a delightful combination! Good website, online content, info on collecting, art & antique shows.


A short history of the art magazine:

While the chronology of the art history text can be traced to Vasari’s The Lives of the Artists first published in 1550, the history of illustrated art publications must be considered to begin in the 19th century. At the beginning of the century, European art saw the emergence of a variety of publications including manifestos and magazines, books and postcards. Because these publications integrated the visual and the textual, they signaled fundamental changes that affected all of the arts. The association of art with the mass media was extended with the growth of the book and magazine publishing industry and as artists began to organize and produce their own magazines. The appearance in the 19th century of illustrated novels, newspapers and magazines provided printed vehicles that incorporated both image and text . The vast growth of journal and illustrated newspaper publication and the production of trade and greeting cards in late 19th century America brought artistic images to the masses. These artistic images were democratizing artworks – inexpensive artworks – that could be consumed alongside the more traditional output of paintings, drawings, sculptures or photography. Source: Christopher Lyon, “The Art Book’s Last Stand?” Art in America September 2006: 47.

*Artists’ Manifestos & Magazines by Germano Celant from Printed Matter 1988 Catalog


7 Tips for Finding Your Muse


The Muses dancing with Apollo, by Baldassare Peruzzi (source: Wikimedia Commons)

Suffering with writer’s block? Battling the winter doldrums? Seeking desperately for content for that next post? MadSilence offers 7 tips to help you to find your muse.

First you should…

Get Back to Basics. Center yourself, go back to the source, and answer these questions: What is my blog about? What am I trying to accomplish? Who is my audience? A recent survey revealed that for most bloggers, “the main reasons for keeping a blog are creative expression and sharing personal experiences.” Now that’s all well and good, but it also helps to narrow your focus and clarify your subject matter. So review those old posts and check those categories and tags. Look for common themes and trends. And remind yourself of the reason you started blogging in the first place.

And while you’re at it…

Get On a Roll. Writing a series of posts on a single subject helps direct your thoughts, plan your work, and get on a roll. CAB started the ever-popular Engrish series, while TAB has animal art. MadSilence’s camouflage series has also proven popular. A series keeps your audience coming back for more.  And don’t forget those pingbacks.

Of course, to get rolling, it helps to…

Open Yourself to New Ideas. Be open to new subjects. TAB had never considered quilts as an art form before visiting the Shelburne Museum, which led to a post on the barn quilt movement, which introduced us to crafty bloggers and Cindy’s thriftathon where we had fun, made a bunch of new friends, and built readership. So view the world with new eyes. To quote CAB: “Those yukidaruma are there staring you in the face, waiting to get your creative juices flowing, so get writing!”

“Those yukidaruma are there staring you in the face, waiting to get your creative juices flowing, so get writing!”

And a good way to broaden the field is to…

Check Your Sources. There are many outstanding online news sources and news aggregators. Look at our blogroll to your right: several excellent sites are listed. TAB is a fan of – Arts & Culture News.  Make visiting these sites part of your weekly routine. You need to keep track of the world around you!

And while you’re surfing the net…

Keep A Journal. Ideas are great, they’re the blogger’s bread and butter, but until you write them down, they don’t exist! TAB types notes in Notepad, carefully labeling each text file with the date and subject. CAB keeps a small notebook with her wherever she goes, writing down ideas when they come out of the blue. “I often get strokes of inspiration when I’m in bed falling asleep. If I forget to write them down, in the morning they’re poof! Gone!” Also, when reading your latest book, scribble in the margins your feelings and reactions. It’s difficult to recapture them after the muse departs. Bye bye, muse!

Ideas are great, they’re the blogger’s bread and butter, but until you write them down, they don’t exist!

You should also remember to…

Read Your Comments. Often.  And visit the blogs of people who comment. Read their posts. And if their posts or comments inspire a post on your blog, share the credit. Not only is this honest thing to do, but it shows the blogosphere what a wonderful blogger you are, and encourages more comments.

…it shows the blogosphere what a wonderful blogger you are…

Finally, if you’re still suffering from a paucity of inspiration…

Talk to Someone. MadSilence has two authors, and with two authors, we can nag inspire each other, generating aggravation energy and fresh ideas. And rely on each other to post when the creative juices run dry. Even if you don’t have a co-author, you can talk to other bloggers, and family and friends. Discussion and feedback is grist for the creative mill. Your muse will respond favorably. Go muse!

Clear blogging! That’s right, our final bit of advice is to read this book: Clear Blogging: How People Blogging Are Changing the World and How You Can Join Them by Bob Walsh. You’ll be glad you did.

Need more inspiration? Visit the Japanese snowmen at Pink Tentacle’s Happy fun snow creatures. Fantastic!


A Bad Case of Blog Envy


Simon N., aka leafeless, the creator of weblog Pen of Passion, has awarded MadSilence “A Roar for Powerful Words.” Roar is a project launched at The Shameless Lions Writing Circle that celebrates the best and most powerful writing in the blogosphere.

Pen of Passion’s own Roar is well deserved. Passion features some of leafless’ selected writings. We were drawn in by the quality and ardor of his writing. Passion is a relatively new WordPress blog (first post December 2007) with 15 posts made through 1/23/08. Every post draws comments, often multiples. A good example of valuing quality over quantity. Are we suffering from blog envy? You betcha!

Shameless: Untroubled or unaffected by shame, especially in situations where others would be ashamed. Brazen, unabashed.
Lion: A brave, strong, or fierce person.

As part of this honor, we’re to name three things we believe are most important to powerful writing, and then pass on the award to five blogs we believe deserve recognition.

CAB thinks that these are the most important qualities in writing today:

  • quality (as in proper English ^^;)
  • interesting topics
  • soul

The qualities TAB believes most important and valuable in writing today are:

  • courage
  • authenticity
  • optimism

Now, on to the roaring part. It’s challenging to name just five blogs because there are so many truly wonderful blog writers that exemplify the values of Shameless Roar. Just check our blogroll. We’ve tried to highlight five blogs that are well deserving and may not have previously received the recognition they warrant. Of course, this is done at some personal risk: after reading these blogs, you may never return to MadSilence again. Talk about your blog envy!

Here’s A Roar for Powerful Words to five blogs that offer a variety of mighty writing:

CAB nominates: Rubber Slippers in Italy, GenreCookShop, and Tigers & Strawberries for this award. How ’bout you, Dad?

TAB nominates: Now hold on, C!  You’ve grabbed three of the five nominations. What’s a father to do? I nominate a blog new to MadSilence,  The Best Artists of all times,  and an old friend,  Argot

Congratulations to one and all.  Roar!


Descent Into MadSilence


It’s time for some self-reflection.

January 2008 marks several important milestones for MadSilence:

•  Our 150th post (this post is our 152nd)
•  Our 24 thousandth hit (as of this post, our counter shows 24,039 hits)

Other interesting MadSilence tidbits:

•  Actively posting since March 2007
•  Monthly views have increased from about 600 in March 2007 to over 4,000 in December 2007
•  71 Categories and 279 Tags
•  Number of links on the blogroll:  67
•  Number of blogs that link to MadSilence (Technorati blog reactions): Approximately 46
•  Blog reading level: High School

Two comments left by our readers sum up what we feel makes MadSilence unique:

According to Argot, “You always find the most interesting news, art, and STUFF!”   

And from BookGirl, “One of the things I like best about your blog is the wonderful way in which you put things in context. In this case, a personal visit becomes a larger exploration of an art form.”

Of course, there is our other claim to fame: MadSilence is the only blog we know of that is co-authored by a multi-generational, father-daughter team residing in the USA and Japan, respectively. 

Thanks to all our readers and commenters.

Image credit:  Hand with Reflecting Sphere by M.C. Escher (1935) 



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