Sunday, May 19, 2013

Landmark Forum Takeaway #1

(I post these as the mood hits me. This is #1 in the sequence because it's the first one that hit me.) #landmarkforum

The Sun Also Rises (again)

I'm now on a Hemingway jag after having bought into the prevailing stereotypes about this work for too many years. ("Good stylist, too obsessed with manliness.") What an eye-opener to re-engage with this novel without allowing the expert opinions to tell me what to think of it.

This is a masterpiece that I somehow neglected the first time I made my way through it. I don't think I actually read it; maybe I turned pages. Nobody assigned it to me, but I guess I assigned it to myself as a book I was "supposed to read." I rushed through it. That was longer ago than I care to admit. This time around I was more patient, and approached it not only as a reader, but also a writer. Now after finishing it properly I still find myself distracted by it, dazed by its beauty, eloquence, and authenticity. Describing the plot here is pointless and probably unnecessary. Gertrude Stein's devastating line about Hemingway's crowd in Paris is all the plot summary you need: "You are all a lost generation."

I won't give away the final line, either, but I will say I had forgotten it, and that it floored me. By the time I reached it, I had been wondering how in the world he was going to wrap this story up convincingly. Mission accomplished.

There are devastatingly honest portraits here of love misguided, and aching, beautiful scenes of life not quite getting off the ground. There is also great craft. Turn to any, and I do mean any, page of this book and study the sentence and paragraph construction. It is waterproof from beginning to end.

This is more than a great novel; it's a master class in specificity, metaphor, the timeless conveyance of human emotion, and the art of making dead-on perfect choices about the right level of detail. As with other truly great books, I shudder to think how much work must have gone into it. If you love good writing, or aspire to it, you need to read this.

Bottom line: This book is the real deal, and a non-negotiable must read. Saying Hemingway is too focused on a masculine perspective is a little like saying Anne Tyler focuses too much on how women think and act. Possibly true, but so #$%@ing what. Take the ride.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Landmark Forum Is ...

...the very best, most effective personal development program out there, in my experience. I finished the basic program in late April in Greensboro, North Carolina. It is not always easy. It is sometimes boring. It is usually exhilarating. But it is indispensable, and I wish I had done it twenty years ago.

... not a cult. If you think +Landmark Education is a cult, then you have probably been reading about it or hearing about it at second or third hand. You have probably not been talking to graduates. I went in a Muslim, got all there was for me to get, and came out a Muslim. A better one, too. Some people may mistake the aggressive marketing that is structured into the program for cultishness. Nope. My friends: This is America. Marketing is kind of what we do here. If trying to generate referrals makes something into a cult, then I think we had better start writing ominous stories about how the Disney organization is a cult, or how Sandler Sales Training is a cult, or how Tony Robbins runs a cult. None of which is true. You do not give up your identity in order to complete this program.

... hard to summarize, and probably best left unsummarized. It's experiential, not something you read or memorize. In order to reinforce what I got in my own life, though, I reserve the right to drop in little tidbit now and then in this blog. For instance, this Landmark graduate wrote a review that reminded me of a key point: "When something happens, just ask yourself why you're telling yourself the story that you're telling yourself -- and ask yourself if it's a fact, or a story."

... something you come back to over and over again. As +Brandi Mazesticeon told me in my phone preparation for the weekend in Greensboro, the Forum begins before it begins and continues after it ends. I am striving now to surround myself with Forum graduates, and if that sounds like cultish behavior to you, I invite you to surround yourself with graduates for a while and test whether that is still how you feel.

So: If you are committed to re-experiencing what you got in the Forum, please let me know, because I would like to connect with you.

Thursday, May 2, 2013


The carnage was horrific and wrong and painful and criminal. And the people who attacked civilians or coordinated the attacks on civilians need to pay.

I saw the image of the little boy who died and imagined myself out with my father when I was about that age.

It all felt very personal. It took me a while to get to a point where I could write about it here. It felt like a violation of my own life.