The New ‘Walden’ Is Funded!
We Will Not Be Sleeping with the Fishes
I have some very exciting news about The New Walden. Thanks to a generous private investment, our production costs are fully funded! We now have guaranteed resources to produce a limited edition of 1,000 books.
Our preorder campaign will continue until August 5, at which point it will convert to a typical Shopify store until the full inventory sells out.
If we exceed 1,000 preorders before the campaign ends, this exclusive edition will be fixed at that final quantity.
Y’all. To be clear: unless the sky falls on our heads, this book will be produced! IT. IS. HAPPENING – even if we don’t reach 1,000 preorders on August 5.
This is no longer an all-or-nothing fundraising campaign. That fact is especially heartening given that funding to date has been far less successful than we’d anticipated (more on that another time). Regardless, The New Walden will move into production in September. Barring a deterioration in the supply chain, your book will ship in November – with time to spare before the holidays.
This autumn, The New Walden will transform from files and renderings to the real tactile deal. My wife and I will travel to Germany, where I’ll supervise press and bindery checks for Walden, documenting every step along the way. Afterward, we’ll explore the country together, eat a few world-class meals and sleep like
babies young adults without children.
And there’s more: even though there’s almost no chance we’ll hit the stretch goal of 2,000 preorders, I’ve decided to sign and number every preordered copy anyway. This is a small way of showing my gratitude for your faith and support. And if you’ve been eyeing this book but the thought of paying for a product in order for it to exist made you itchy, what are you waiting for? To quote Owen Wilson’s character in Meet the Parents, “The grill is hot, the pool is luke” – and Walden is waiting.
The New ‘Walden’ Foreword, Part Two
In the last edition of Wonderlust, I shared Corinne’s excellent contribution to our foreword in The New Walden. If you missed it, read her piece here.
Here’s an excerpt from my part.
As I write in the first third of the twenty-first century, we’re surrounded by digital interfaces that are lit from within and encased in aluminum and glass. If you’re reading in the next century or beyond, biomechanical interfaces might be grown, cultivated and even ingested. Projected from your eyes and manipulated by your fingertips in thin air. Or packaged in pocket-sized spray bottles: give it a spritz, walk through the mist, glimpse the universe and smell a hint of jasmine as the vision drifts away.
Our oldest and simplest interface is typically made of paper, cloth and ink: the book. It won’t light up for you, but neither does it need a battery or charge. It won’t be made redundant by next year’s model. It will not bleep or buzz at you. It can’t help you reach the airport or queue up your favorite playlist. It offers one thing and one thing only: a story. And with good provenance and care, it can last for hundreds of years. How’s that for a product cycle?
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Enough about that ever-loving book. How about a new poem? How about two?
My first piece, “Minor Hours,” is a prose poem that pays homage to the Liturgy of the Hours or Divine Office. For centuries, clergy and devout laypeople have set the rhythm of their days with appointed times of prayer according to a structure of “major” and “minor” hours. Minor hours take place during the daytime, with comparatively simpler liturgies.
The Liturgy of the Hours is a public and communal series of rituals, with readings, hymns and corporate prayer. But how do these rituals form and complement the silent prayers that never leave the mind?
Very rarely, after decades of practice, a contemplative finds that prayer becomes their primary mode of consciousness. Nonpraying thoughts are no longer the norm but anomalies. The contemplative prays – almost literally – without ceasing. Perhaps more accurately, they live in prayer, in constant conversation. A shadowy part of me shrinks from such an idea. Surely that would be a restrictive and spiritually invaded life, killing all individualism. But the authentic part of me longs for a praying life, to borrow from Paul Miller, imagining the freedom of a heart that never strays far from communion with God.
“Gravity” was inspired by the song “Waiting for You” from the hauntingly beautiful album Ghosteen by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. The “You” in this song is Cave’s son Arthur, who at age fifteen fell from a seaside cliff to his death in 2015. For many artists, such a horrific loss would level their creative spirit for months, even years; but for Nick Cave, writing and mourning were inseparable. The band’s 2016 album, Skeleton Tree, is his raw and shattered elegy for Arthur. Ghosteen addresses the same grief, deep as ever but with gentler waves. Cave found that while the pain and absence never left, imagination brought new hope, enlarging his life and making room once more for balance and a perspective that could transcend personal horizons. As he wrote on his website, The Red Hand Files, “I found with some practise the imagination could propel itself beyond the personal into a state of wonder. In doing so the colour came back to things with a renewed intensity and the world seemed clear and bright and new.”
Who needs an alarm clock with Heraclitus rattling around in your head, muttering about fire and kindling? “The coming-in, the going-out,” he chants. “Waxing white, dwindling red.” And what’s this about measures and eternity? Music, it seems – the meter of endlessness. Fine, old man, I’ll bite now that you’ve woken me. I’ll listen for the rhythm, try to get the hang of it. I’ll listen and hope without expectation for any kind of sense because expecting, says experience, is kerosene for heartbreak. Even the life that assumes nothing is prone to shattering. So this is prayer number one, Lord: help me hold it together.
I draw north
ember to moon
lodestone to lodestar
to your shining body
dried blue roses
darkling wolf cubs
held-harnessed-hauled by hunger for a heart
that won’t recoil from my heat
Once more I
am repelled on contact
torn out of orbit
by the self that is not
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