— Fascinating Pictures (@Fascinatingpics) September 4, 2014
— Fascinating Pictures (@Fascinatingpics) September 4, 2014
We and the news media have the attention spans of gnats. Something monumental shocks us into a Rubbernecking Moment... until the next monumental thing comes along. Murder headlines get a whole lot of play and keep us looking, darting from one to the next. Lamenting. Opining. Outraging. Suicides? Not so much. At least not for long. In a previous post-- The aftermath #RIPRobinWilliams-- I wrote the following:
The news media swarm and hyper-focus on huge, painful stories like these, and we all listen and discuss and cry and scream and care immensely.
And then we stop.
We don't stop caring, but we stop being pro-active, because the next Big Story comes along and that wave of emotion or controversy or fear or sadness or tragedy or outrage or terror or death or civil unrest or trauma or injustice comes along and diverts our attention... again.
This country is dysfunctional and needs extended rehab. This country needs to pay attention. We need sustained treatment as a nation, not spot checks. We need to continue to listen, care, and respond, to seek help, to be vigilant, to reach out, to get well. We need to lengthen our attention spans and accept the therapy that will help heal us.
We must listen to and heed the advice we're getting from experts. Hanging ourselves is not an option.
Today in the Los Angeles Times, there was similar reaction to my old improv buddy Robin's tragic death, along with some excellent commentary on treating people with mental illnesses. Please read these very astute letters to the editor, because our voices matter:
Depression: It's so deep inside. No one can touch it.
Some days are unexplainable, when you have harmony with the Earth, racking your mind as to why — and knowing your crash awaits. It's lonely as hell.
I don't dismiss hope for a personal cure; I just want to share the unreal depth that embraces these sad souls who have survived countless years of secrets.
Thank you, Robin Williams, for possibly creating an awareness that yes, this can happen to someone as magnificent as you.
For now, much-needed attention is being paid to this issue. But if past tragedies are a guide, the discussion will probably fade over time until it is barely audible, only to be amplified by the next shock.
Cynthia Ingersoll, Sultan, Wash.
In 2009, there were about 36,500 suicides in the U.S. and "only" 16,500 homicides. Yet we hear about the murders but not so much about the suicides (until someone like Williams dies).
Likewise, we seldom see any headlines about depression, but depression affects nearly 15 million American adults, or about 6.7% of the population age 18 and older, in a given year. People who think depression is a choice are wrong (and often judgmental). Depression is no more a choice than baldness. However, I can get a hair transplant, but I can't get a brain transplant.
And then there's addiction. Let's just start by saying that the abuse of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs costs more than $600 billion annually due to crime, lost work productivity and healthcare. But again, we seldom hear about addiction unless someone is glamorized.
When will we be proactive and create some preventive measures? This is all treatable and preventable.
Ken Donaldson (Addictions and mental health counselor ), Seminole, Fla.
There is a precedent, of course, for Williams' suicide: Comedian and actor Freddie Prinze, who starred in the hit TV series "Chico and the Man," killed himself in 1977 at the age of 22.
Comedy, depression and substance abuse have an attraction to one another. My father was a comedy writer who used vodka and a barbiturate to get through his days. Thankfully, he didn't commit suicide.
Williams' death is surely a tragedy, but it did not come as a shock to me. I hope it shames our culture into taking depression seriously.
Wendy Werris, Los Angeles, CA
The Book Booth is a weekly feature at The Political Carnival, relating news, notes, and reflections from the world of books and publishing. SeattleDan, along with his wife, SeattleTammy, are operators of both an on-line bookstore, as well a brick and mortar in small town Washington State. Both have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.
Some of us enjoy a cool, refreshing drink on a weekend summer day. Others are busy penning the worst opening line for a novel, hoping to win the distinguished Bulwer-Lytton Prize. Keep writing and better luck next year as this years winner has been announced. And it is worthy. The Winner!
Earlier in the month, Rick Perlstein's The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan was published. His previous history of the sixties, Nixonland, received great acclaim (as it should have, it is a terrific read). However Right-Wing critics took the opportunity to impugn Perlstein with charges of plagiarism. Laura Miller at Salon, however, says enough is enough and looks at the issue here. Plagiarism?
And then there is quoting out of context. Which, it seems, Amazon has been doing using no less a personage than George Orwell in its on-going battle against the Hachette Publishing Group. According to the Guardian, the Orwell estate is not happy, not happy at all. Amazon Misquoting
In sadder news this week, we saw the passing of Robin Williams (Laffy had a sweet tribute here Laffy's post on Robin Williams). His comic legacy is huge, as is his cinema performances, among them Dead Poets Society. His contribution to keeping literature alive is examined by Roger Tagholm at Publishing Perspectives. Robin Williams's Legacy
As we have talked about here many times, film adaptations of written works often spark a lot of controversy, especially if an author loves or hates the adaptation. Shortlist. com has thirty such responses in a fun presentation. Film Adaptations Not Everyone Is Happy With
The Telegraph recently weighed in on the top 100 novels everyone should read. I found the rankings a bit odd, but there are some interesting choices. The Telegraph's Top 100 Novels
Then there are the well-meaning English teachers who seem to have a literary canon of their own. George .R.R. Martin had little use for them or their canon. He seems to have made out ok... SciFi Will Rot Your Brain - or Maybe Not
We all have our own passions when it comes to books, or any art medium for that matter. iO9 has this list of books that will make one more passionate about science and scientists.
You are reading this post on the internets, of course. And we all know that the internets are meant to post cute cat pictures. So enjoy some cats and their literary names, courtesy of Buzzfeed.
Looking for something weird and good to read for the weekend? Novelist Stephanie Feldman recommends these ten creepy novels that will give you the shivers. From Publishers Weekly.
Finally if you are looking for something "crafty" to do this weekend, and you want some inspiration, take a look at these book-related projects from Buzzfeed. Book-related art.
So kick back, enjoy that chilled drink, and let us know what great book you are reading. And by all means, have a great weekend.
It's sad to have to say goodbye to two people who have meant so much to us throughout our lives but that's what today has brought to us.
Lovely Lauren Bacall has moved on, Robin Williams as well.
Tonight we have two embeds, one each of their work (which don't begin to show you their incredible range of talent.).
More on Lauren Bacall from the BBC:
US film and stage actress Lauren Bacall has died at the age of 89.
Her Hollywood career spanned seven decades, with a memorable debut aged 19 opposite her future husband, Humphrey Bogart, in To Have and Have Not.
More than 50 years later, The Mirror Has Two Faces earned her a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination
Read more here.
Our Political Carnival posts on Robin Williams:
A page of articles about Robin Williams on the BBC website here.
Lauren Bacall's 'Whistle' Line:
Robin Williams on Mork and Mindy
Mork and Mindy Season 1 Episode 21 In Mork We Trust