The Technium

Proverbs for the Future

Anne Herbert was a gifted writer who edited CoEvolution Quarterly (the periodic magazine of the Whole Earth Catalog) before I did in the early 1980s. We never worked together, or were close friends, but I really dug her writing. It was telegraphic, lyrical, abbreviated, evocative, extremely personal and mystical.  She wrote in short bursts. Like proverbs from a secret bible. Brian Eno noticed her stuff works really well on t-shirts. It was not like any writing I had encountered.  (She came up with the phrase “practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty” which later became a meme.) Readers loved her; but publishers did not get her.

After one book of her work that sank on the marketplace, she disappeared in the mid 1980s and never published again even in magazines. I often wondered about her. She was decades ahead of her time. I always thought her stuff was perfect for blogs and twitter. But after 1990 no one I knew had seen her.

Recently I discovered that she is still going, still writing and that she has a weekly blog! In fact she has been blogging since 2005! I’ve been reading her online recently although she doesn’t know it. She’s as good as ever. She is the epitome blog/twitter writer IMHO. It turned out she had been broadcasting 140 character tweets and bursty blog postings long before either media existed.

I love her sensibility. You might too.

Some recent samples. These are not cut or edited. These are the entire entry.

Do less; have less; be more.


Flawedness is the only option. I disagree, but there it is. I don’t know how to deal with flawedness in myself or others. Now, that’s a flaw.


Music fans are more likely than musicians to love the kind of music they love and disdain other kinds.

Musicians are more likely to love music as a group and to be riveted by at least one kind of music their fans feel is wrong, so very wrong.


Renata Adler was a New York Times movie critic who brought to the job the gift of not being particularly fond of movies as an art form. She almost didn’t like them as a group.

This gave her access to general insights less available to lovers of the form.

She said you can’t make an anti-war movie because film always says yes to what it shows.


Sometimes the people who invent things and the people who find out what things are for are different people.


Someone who has been deeply wounded must be deeply healed.


I twist myself into a pretzel to believe the story, the official story of some group I like, to stay inside a “we” I want. Not much nutritional value.


I might have to cry for a hundred thousand years. Or maybe an accurate laugh would do some of the same work.


While I’m thinking about this problem, what is the part I am skittering away from?


All that room inside a minute, all those seconds, hundredths of a second. All those nanoseconds, and here comes another minute, moving and spacious.

  • nancy

    Wonderful! She reads like one of my all time favorite writers – Hugh Prather (Notes to Myself). I’ve bookmarked her site. Thanks for the heads-up.

  • Faze

    Here’s one of hers I like from Tuesday, May 01, 2007…

    Peace. The peace of rocks melting at the center of the Earth. The peace of trees growing up here on the edge. Routine and endless transformation. Peace.

  • faze


    Wednesday, October 08, 2008

    I live where it really doesn’t rain part of the year, and then it does.

    That means sometimes waking slowly in autumn going “What’s that sound?” That interesting and irregular sound, what is it?

    Maybe we humans have been in a long, dry spell in knowing how to get on with each other. Maybe something basic and missing that would help us with each other is about to enter its season, and damp us down, and green us up. We may slowly awake, thinking, “What is that?” and start to ease up on each other.

    posted by Anne Herbert at 10:56 AM