About Conversation Kindling

The purpose of this blog is to share stories, metaphors, quotes, songs, humor, etc. in hopes they'll be used to spark authentic and rewarding conversations about working and living fruitfully. There are at least three things you can gain by getting involved in these conversations. First, you'll discover new and important things about yourself through the process of thinking out loud. Second, you'll deepen your relationships with others who participate by swapping thoughts, feelings, and stories with them. Finally, you'll learn that robust dialogue centered on stories and experiences is the best way to build new knowledge and generate innovative answers to the questions that both life and work ask.

I write another blog called My Spare Brain. This is where I am "storing" ideas for use in future books, articles, blog posts, speeches, and workshops. There is little rhyme or reason for what I post there. I do this to encourage visitors to come as treasure hunters looking for new ways of seeing and thinking vs. researchers looking for new or better answers to questions they already know how to ask.

02 May 2014

East of Eden

John Steinbeck's East of Eden was published in October, 1952. It became an instant best-seller. It was adapted for film in 1955 by director Elia Kazan. A TV miniseries was aired in 1981, and rumors have it that Universal Pictures will produce another adaption of the novel with a release date of 2009.

Steinbeck's inspiration for the novel came from the Hebrew Bible. Specifically, it came from Genesis 4: 1-16, which recounts the story of Cain and Abel. The title, East of Eden, was chosen by Steinbeck from verse 16:
"And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden."
The book explores themes of depravity, beneficence, love, and the struggle for acceptance, greatness, and the capacity for self-destruction. Steinbeck said of it:
"It has everything in it I've been able to learn about my craft in all these years. I think everything else I've written has been, in a sense, practice for this."
In Chapter 13, Steinbeck described the condition of the world. He said:
"There is great tension in the world, tension toward a breaking point, and men are unhappy and confused."
He went on to say these conditions prompted him to ask himself three important questions. These same questions are worth asking ourselves today.

  • What do I believe in?
  • What must I fight for?
  • What must I fight against?
"The hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross, which bridge to burn." - David Russell

"I think when people have illustrated the Bible, most of them have been devout Christians. Because they're devout Christians they can't separate themselves from the work. They get mired in piety, so they can't see the darkness. They only see the light of salvation. But if you don't have the darkness to contrast with the light, then what are you offering but cotton candy for Sunday school children? I think that some of the images in this Bible will be disturbing to a lot of people. The Bible is a very disturbing book." – Barry Moser, illustrator
"Lord, give to us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for - because unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything." - Reverend Peter Marshall, a prayer offered at the opening session of the U.S. Senate on April 18, 1947

"Stop leaving and you will arrive. Stop searching and you will see. Stop running away and you will be found." - Lao Tzu
"Belief? What do I believe in? I believe in sun. In rock. In the dogma of the sun and the doctrine of the rock. I believe in blood, fire, woman, rivers, eagles, storm, drums, flutes, banjos, and broom-tailed horses…" - Edward Abbey, A Voice Crying in the Wilderness
"It is immensely moving when a mature man – no matter whether old or young in years – is aware of a responsibility for the consequences of his conduct and really feels such responsibility with heart and soul. He then acts by following an ethic of responsibility and somewhere he reaches the point where he says: 'Here I stand; I can do no other.'" - Max Weber

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