Mind of Howard Rhiengold
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Audience Member: Howard, what advice would you
give to someone with a nascent writing career...particularly about
how one might weild the personae around agents, editors et al?
HR: Oh, I spent fifteen years working on the
WRITING, which is what makes the difference between authenticity
and pretense. I just needed to attract more attention to it. Attracting
attention to me was always an instrument to attract attention to
something I was confident about because I had paid my dues working
on the craft.
As someone said, there are a lot of people who skip the dues and
the craft and go directly to the self-advertising.
DR: Howard, what are your thoughts on refined
HR: It seems "thin" to me, in comparison
to honey. And honey has so many different flavors, but refined sugar
only has one flavor. I tend to avoid refined sugar when I can use
honey, and it is mostly a matter of taste rather than ideology.
DR: Could you tell us a little about the world
of honey? There's so many different kinds -depending on the type
of flower used by the bees -also the processing method. Do you have
a few favorites? Any application secrets you could share?
HR: Dan, I know very little. I have been tempted
to start beekeeping, but I already have too many obsessions. Gardening
is obsession enough. Indeed, roses alone are an entire universe.
I do know that some allergists recommend LOCAL honey as a way of
building resistance -- the bees deliver a weakened dose of the allergen.
And I recall that some work has been done on using honey to concentrate
beneficial substances from certain flowering plants. So I am really
a beginner, without a great deal of time to get into depth.
Australian Leatherwood honey, from Tasmania, is incredibly scrumptious,
expensive, and comes in a really neat can that I use to hold pens,
pencils, and brushes. But I don't indulge in the extravagance. A
great extravagance that I treat myself to on my birthdays: Jamaican
Blue Mountain coffee beans and Tasmanian Leatherwood honey.
I grow clover in my lawn, love the beneficial properties of clover,
and like clover honey. I also like orange blossom honey.
I like a small amount of honey in oolong and jasmine teas, as
I bet you know more than I do, Dan. Why do you want to know my
opinion of refined sugar, BTW?
DR: Actually, what you just said was more than
I know about honey!
I was interested in your thoughts on sugar because I know you
to be somewhat health conscious. People who take time to look into
their diets tend to back off on sugar after a while. It's also just
a matter of reading the labels on a lot of store-bought goods. They're
packed with sugars, salt and all kinds of preservatives. Most people,
when they discover that fact -find they can do with out much of
You have quite eclectic tastes, and I see food is no exception.
What's playing in your CD player right now? Heard anything new
lately that you like?
HR: Bill Frissell "Gone,
Just Like A Train", The Modern Jazz Quartet at Music Inn
2: guest Artist: Sonny Rollins", Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
Future" are the three latest on my stack .
I highly recommend the Frissell. One of the great CDs of the decade.
AM: Howard could you give the story behind each
mask hanging on your office walls?
HR: One is a thirty year old painting. Versions
of it are on my website. One is a Huichol beaded Jaguar, given to
me recently by the woman who broke my heart in 1968. She is a Jungian
shrink and Huichol collector living in a small town in Utah. Judy
and I hit it off with her and her fifth husband and they keep sending
presents. One is a devil mask I got in San Miguel de Allende. One
is a mask I made of my face my first day on the job as editor of
Whole Earth Review. Instead of a meeting, I brought in a bunch of
plaster gauze, paint, tiny mirrors, sequins. The masks we made that
day later played parts in other dramas. And another, more recent
painting of Ygdrassil, the world tree with the world snake in its
And a little plaster gargoyle.
And a brass hand of Buddha in an unidentified mudra.