5 Cool Things for Oct. 2016

Herewith, five great notions, quotes, thoughts, passages, and a poem, from poet-philosopher, and Puget Sound resident, David Whyte. What’s unusual is that this poet works in the corporate world. Whyte also seems to have helped inspire the formation of Dark Angels, the UK-based writing collective. (Of which I am a proud member.) I thought this was perfect. “And so the ability to ask beautiful questions, often in very unbeautiful moments, is one of the great disciplines of a human life. And a beautiful question starts to shape your identity as much by asking it as it does by having it answered.” (Thanks to Tim and Neil, friends and 5CT subscribers for the tip.)

david-whyte by Nicol Ragland

5CT August 2016

To the lazy days of summer’s end, I welcome you. First, over to England for some great black and white photographs. A hot tip on a great little notebook. LARB—dish from Laos or book review website? Baa Baa Black Sheep by Wynton Marsalis is the perfect accompaniment to tour the work of a Portuguese goddess of abstract painting. “At night I would go to sleep dreaming of sea adventures.” – John Claridge


{The canal, 1966, John Claridge}

5CT for June 2016

We hear a lot about the power of words and of stories. Those instances when the yeast works its magic are rare and beautiful to behold. Kate Tempest is a performance poet from London, and her stunning 2015 Europe is Lost seems a mite prescient. I found myself floored at the writing in The Crack-Up, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s series of ‘confessional’ essays for Esquire. Martin Pistorius made me weep and Max Porter filled me with joy and wonder and a touch of envy. The rich, driving sounds of Kendrick Lamar’s Complexion (A Zulu love) come via DM. Seems a good time for this: “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” George Orwell



Kate Tempest, we are lost, we are lost

What else but this for right now?

Established: Lessons from the world’s oldest companies


Help us publish Established at Unbound, a crowd-funded publisher in London.

Established: 1198, 1498, 1515, 1519, 1534, 1570, 1698, 1705, 1715, 1759, 1824, 1891. An inn, a removals company, a butchers, a ferry, a printing press, a bell foundry, a wine merchants, a stone carvers, a scale makers, a brewers, an agricultural company, a gum manufacturer. How on earth have they managed that? And what are their secrets of survival?

In Established, twelve business writers set out to find the answers to these questions and to tell the stories of these companies that have survived scores of booms and busts, black sheep in the family and strange twists of fate.

But they’re not your typical team of business writers. The twelve are from the Dark Angels stable, the brand that since 2004 has been encouraging authentic voices in business writers through its residential courses and workshops. Storytelling is at the heart of the Dark Angels approach. In Established you will find that each of these enduring businesses has a great story, each of which is told in an individual voice that brings range and freshness to the book and makes it quite unlike the mainstream ‘how to’ hardback.

But the lessons the stories contain are every bit as instructive, from the eschewal of nepotism to the generational mantra of ‘humility and rebellion’. The reader will find contradictions, on questions like world domination or keeping it to the one shop. And that’s the joy of this book, that readers looking for insight as well as good old entertainment will gravitate towards the business that most resembles theirs in spirit and set-up if not in actual trade.

The lesson in every instance that is closest to the writers’ hearts is that the story itself is one of the greatest assets of every business – and when you’ve got over 500 years of records it’s quite a challenge to tell it, especially in a couple of thousand words. Established does just that.

I want to supp

Poets and maps, power and language

His name is Mr. Wendell Berry and we need his voice now more than ever. One startup, 57 trillion squares. This subversive intellect from Atlantic City has thought deeply about you, your country, your children, and your calling. A near perfect film about journalism and power. A beautiful writer leaves home for another language. “Without imagination, love stales into sentiment, duty, boredom. Relationships fail not because we have stopped loving but because we first stopped imagining.” – James Hillman

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Wendell Berry, the essential voice