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MIND MUSINGS for the week of May 10, 2021
Ken Kesey and Sometimes a Great Notion
Ken Kesey was an American original if there ever was one. He published his first novel in 1962—One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest—and instantly became a literary star. The book was made into a movie in 1975 by Milos Forman, and turned Jack Nicholson from an almost star into a mega-star overnight. The movie earned all of the “Big 5” Oscars that year: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
But it is Kesey’s second novel which, for me, cements him into the pantheon of the greats: Sometimes a Great Notion, published in 1964. I am reading it for what may be the fifth time, and—like the previous four—it reminds me why my old friend Pete and I think it may be the finest novel ever written.
From the first page it has the power of Lear on the Heath. Energy, bigness, power, emotion, hidden rage to be unleashed. Much of this comes from the most fascinating narrative style I have ever read. One moment we are reading the voice of character 1, then the voice of character 2, then a third person narrator, then another character. Sometimes we read the voice of a character as he/she toggles back and forth in time. And what amazes, among other things, is that it is NEVER confusing. In fact, it brings a clarity to the psychological aspects of the novel that “normal” narration would not. The tension of competing narrative minds in motion in real time impels the narrative along.
The other effect of this narrative style is to create a sense we are in a tempest from page one to the end (again, Lear on the Heath).
Paul Newman turned the book into a movie, which in 1972 became Never Give an Inch and won two Oscars.
Kesey went on to become famous as well for his Acid Tests of the mid- and late-60’s (where a fledgling Grateful Dead was the house band), chronicled in Tom Wolfe’s legendary The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.
Kesey and Larry McMurtry met in 1960 at the Wallace Stegman writing program at Stanford and became lifelong friends. In fact, ten years after Kesey died, McMurtry married Kesey’s widow, Norma Faye Kesey.
Finally, I was surprised and pleased to see that Jordan Peterson recommended both Kesey novels above and Electric Kool-Aid on a list of 100 books he thinks everyone should read.
Well, get to reading. . . . . Tim
Significance May 9, 2021
This past week, we interviewed Amanda Brinkman, Chief Brand Officer for Deluxe and host of the popular Hulu series Small Business Revolution. In this interview, it dawned on me.
Some people are successful, but very few have made a significance. Amanda is one of those people of significance. Her campaign to Do Well By Doing Good is evidence of meaning and consequence.
Listen to Amanda, one of the wisest women we know- https://www.blogtalkradio.com/successmadetolast/2021/05/06/success-made-to-last-legends-with-amanda-brinkman-chief-brand-officer-of-deluxe
So we pivot. This portion of your newsletter turns to significance.
Let’s start with a definition: significance
1. that which is signified; meaning
2. the quality of being significant; suggestiveness; expressiveness
3. importance; consequence; moment
SNL Mother’s Day Edition: This past week’s Saturday Night Live is worth watching again. Elon Musk, arguably one of the most significant characters in the last ten years was the host. You are in for a surprise to watch this visionary’s funny side. Watch the skit on SpaceX from Mars. Yes, he is really trying to colonize the Red Planet. Call that significant.
Is Strength equal to Significance? Find out the answer on a special podcast interview with the World’s Strongest Man Chris Duffin. Learn about his significant side of being a Father, Husband, Entrepreneur and Chief Visionary Officer. https://www.blogtalkradio.com/successmadetolast/2021/05/03/success-made-to-last-with-author-chris-duffin-debuting-the-eagle-and-dragon