Saturday, September 15, 2007

Robert Fulghum update

A few times since I started blogging I have linked to something by or about Robert Fulghum. Sometimes when I later referred to what I had linked, it no longer worked. He moved or the site went away...something. It was clear that this is not a man pursuing anything but his own vision. If the world wants to tag along, then it is their job to keep up. Little things like updates from him, or even permalinks to past contacts, are not part of his makeup. Here is a link to an earlier post.

This morning's The Infinite Mind re-ran their program on Aspergers Syndrome (local NPR station) and by chance I tripped over a post about Robert Fulghum from two years ago. I'm no expert, but part of the reason for this post is that what I heard in the radio program makes me wonder if Fulghum has Asperger's. Without going into detail, he seems to exhibit a lot of the qualities. Listen to the program and decide for yourself. (They charge now for listening, dammit. I already hear more free stuff than I can listen to, so I don't pay to hear more. Maybe you can be lucky enough to hear a broadcast on NPR. If not, I guess you have to pay...)

Yes, of course he has a Wikipedia article.

Here is a link to a recent Fulghum "essay." Read here for some insights into the creative mind of this gifted writer.


In interviews in advance of the publication of a new book I’m often asked about being a writer - the how, what, and where of it. Usually I duck and weave because I would rather write than talk about writing. Still, in a way, I have elaborated my version of the writing life in a work of fiction - my novel, THIRD WISH - published in Europe. Since it may be a long time, if ever, before the novel appears in English, I’ll share what I’ve written.

In the last volume, two characters are talking about their craft - one, named Alice-Alice is an actress and the other, nicknamed “Dog” (his name is Daniels Doggett). As always in fiction, the ideas are those of the author.


“Is that enough about being a writer?” Daniels asked. “No, keep going. What else?” “If you insist.” “I insist.” “I’ve written reams of nonsense verse. And nonsense recipes for nonsense dishes and meals. That’s why I like old Edward Lear so much - he could let his mind run free. He attached his destiny to whimsy and pulled his toy on a string behind him across the world. He allowed foolishness and delight free rein. But he always still had the rein of reality firmly in hand.
“Anything else?”

“Lists. I have lists of the contents of closets that don’t exist. And love letters between people who never met in person. And instructions for how to assemble devices that won’t work even if put together as described. And there’s more. This is the Loony Division of David Daniels Doggett, Inc. It’s one way I keep my restless mind from boiling over.

He fell silent and looked away.

“Don’t stop.”

“Well . . . part of the writing comes from reading. I read my way through the Encyclopedia Britannica when I was in high school - and also the yellow pages of the telephone book - a thesaurus or two, several rhyming dictionaries, and too many books of quotations to count.

“I once planned to read every English word in existence, and got up to “R” in the Complete Oxford English Dictionary. Someday I’ll finish that task, though there’s a supplement of new words from time to time and I’m losing ground. I used to write down all the words I liked for one reason or another, but I’ve stopped doing that. The list got too long. I liked too many words.

“Don’t think I’m obsessive compulsive. These habits come and go in a haphazard way. My head is like a construction site on wheels. I have a collection of titles for books I’ll never write. I don’t have to write them. I can imagine the whole book. It’s usually a book I wouldn’t want to read, anyhow.”

He laughed.

“Give me some examples,” she said. “Tango Lessons for Satyrs.” “A Travel Guide For Imaginary States.” “Macaroni for Myrtle – the Opera.” A sequel to the Orient Express – “The Occidental Service Station.” “The Cow Did It.” “Words For What Cannot Be Said.” “What The Tree Thought.” “Great Zen After-Dinner Speeches.” Stuff like that.”

“Oh,” she said. “I’d at least pick up the book and look at it, wondering what-the-hell kind of mind was at work.”


“Keep going,” she said.

I am tempted to grab the entire piece. It's somewhat long for a blog post, though, but worthwhile reading. Go now before we lose yet another Fulghum link and read before he or the link vanishes once again...

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