This is a new semi-weekly column from Leitch. It has words, and pictures. It's called Ten Humans Of The Week. It might or might not work. But here it is.
In Stephen King's "On Writing" — the only real book about writing I've actually found helpful, which is probably why I'm more a typist than a writer — he describes three types of writers. At the bottom are the bad ones, or, as King puts it, "found on the staff of your local newspaper, on the racks at your local bookstore, and at poetry readings on Open Mike Night." In the middle are most of us, including himself. He says his basic premise is that "if you're a bad writer, no one can help you become a good one, or even a competent one. If you're good and want to be great ... fuhgeddaboudit." The idea is that you can become better, but you can't become a genius.
Which, considering how he describes the great ones, is a relief. "They are geniuses, divine accidents, gifted in a way which is beyond our ability to understand, let alone attain. Shit, most geniuses aren't able to understand themselves, and many of them live miserable lives, realizing (at least on some level) that they are nothing but fortunate freaks, the intellectual version of runway models who just happen to be born with the right cheekbones and with breasts which fit the image of an age."
I just finished reading the New Yorker's epic profile of David Foster Wallace, and I will say this: I have never been happier to reside in the Blissful Mediocre. DFW was so good that it wasn't enough to say something no one had said before; he forced himself to try to invent an entirely new way of saying it. That's the type of thing that will drive a man mad. It's hard enough to even make sense, let alone try to change the fashion in which humans communicate, avoid saying something any other person has ever said and the way they said it. Christ. It makes my brain bleed just thinking about it. David Foster Wallace was the guy fromPi, only with words instead of numbers. (Though he was into numbers too.)
There are many, many times I'm pleased not to be very smart. Reading that story was definitely one of them. Thank God I'm a hack!
Jim Bowden. I'm proud to report than I saw Jim Bowden's last game as Washington Nationals general manager, and considering Corey Patterson was batting cleanup, I'd say I had a rather representative sample. I'll still miss the guy. You have to love a man who so lacks self-awareness and is so non-self-conscious that he gleefully rode a Segway around training camp. This Washington Post story sums up most of his genius, but for my money, you can't beat his and his girlfriend's dual DUI and domestic abuse arrests a couple of years ago. The world of baseball is a little more boring without him, and a lot safer.