Processed Product: Top 5

What better way to celebrate the end of Processed Product's first year than with a best-of list? Besides being peak movie season, December is the month of lists, making it one of my favorite months of the year. I love lists. The succinct, easy-to-scan sum-ups make it easy to see what rose to the top, and… Continue reading Processed Product: Top 5


Circling the Truth

Dante never read Homer, at least not in Greek. Neither have I, but scholarship in fourteenth century Italy was a bit more spotty than it is today. Translations of the Illiad were secondhand accounts of the Trojan war that figured Achilles as a pining lover rather than a super-powered hero; otherwise, the only references to… Continue reading Circling the Truth



Emily Dickinson wrote thousands of poems, many of which were lost or destroyed, yet the nearly 1,800 posthumously published verses give us a luminous artistic record of a poet who is now, arguably, the most important of the 19th century. She painstakingly assembled thematically related fascicles, stitching each grouping of poems by hand (pastors similarly stitched the pages of their sermons). Unlike Kafka,… Continue reading Unfinished


those sOunds.

A guy I once knew had a sticker on his car that read, "I Love Hip-Hop." (I'm interpreting. Love was denoted by a bright red heart.) Both the simplicity and the sentiment struck me. I loved Miles, Satie, Bob Dylan and Tom Petty. I loved a lot of punk rock and ska bands too, but… Continue reading those sOunds.

Process, Uncategorized

What Words Can Do

I'm still reflecting on Ursula Le Guin's speech at the National Book Awards last week. Because she's an Oregon writer, it received even more attention here in Portland, and the standing ovation she received at the end of the speech was well-deserved. She threw in the barb that writers relegated to genres always throw in when… Continue reading What Words Can Do


Same Words

Depth of experience fashions a groove in your brain that plays again through analogy. A 'like' experience serves as a reminder that literally brings the experience to mind. Our minds, being imperfect analogue devices, recreate the experience as best as possible with the result being more like the ghost at the other end of Edison's machine, a simulacrum… Continue reading Same Words


Expiration Date: 11/9

At Thanksgiving dinner years ago, discussion somehow turned to rap music. More wine was poured, the gravy was curdling, and no one was yet ready for dessert. "But wasn't it Blondie who sang the first rap song? I'm pretty sure it was, and then it was copied." Let the historical record show that it was… Continue reading Expiration Date: 11/9


Into the Woods

Nathaniel Hawthorne added the "W" to his name because of shame. His family was among the first Puritan settlers of Massachusetts, and one of his ancestors, John Hathorne, was a judge in the Salem witchcraft trials of 1692. In his fiction, he strove to keep "the inmost Me behind the veil," yet like all writers he couldn't… Continue reading Into the Woods


A (Haunted) Mind

There's nothing like studying something to dispel its mystery. You examine it, finding that you can explain away almost all of the inconsistencies and irrationality. The thing becomes known and familiar, less strange as you begin to associate it with other known things. Like an object sprung from orbit, the pull of mystery exerts less force each… Continue reading A (Haunted) Mind



For the past two years, I've taught an an opinion piece in my class, Sherry Turkle's The Flight From Conversation. I'm starting to move away from using it because it's the longest I've used an article continuously, yet I'm still surprised by how easily my students relate to it, finding it at once familiar and eye-opening.… Continue reading Trade-in