Delighted to be 40. Travel at your own speed.

Tucker Lieberman standing by a small waterfall at Quebrada la Vieja in Bogotá, Colombia. 5 December 2020
Tucker Lieberman standing by a small waterfall at Quebrada la Vieja in Bogotá, Colombia. 5 December 2020
Tucker Lieberman at Quebrada La Vieja in Bogotá, Colombia, on 5 December 2020.

Pleased to meet you!

I was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and I lived in the Boston area until my late 30s. Stuff I have done:


They might perceive your work through their own insecurity.

Colorful abstract painting
Colorful abstract painting
Image by garageband on Pixabay

Are you a poet, artist, or musician? Have you described yourself that way to others? Then maybe these situations sound familiar.

Here’s How It Goes

Scenario #1: Someone Asks: ‘What Do You Do?’

This is common. Someone asks what you “do.” They want to know how you pay your bills.

It isn’t their business what bills you have or how you pay them, but they ask this question anyway to make conversation. Probably your bills are inoffensive, right? And, to pay them, you might need to spend all day at a job. The job would be a recognizable occupation. You don’t mind discussing your job, right? (So they assume.)

And you can…


Reflections on the book ‘The Once and Future Liberal’

Image by Eak K. from Pixabay

I read Mark Lilla’s The Once and Future Liberal (2017) shortly after it was published, and since then I have contemplated the argument against so-called “identity politics.” I think the 2017 round of this argument has successfully been put to bed by the election of Joe Biden, but, for the record, here’s what I thought of the book.

The Book Is Against ‘Identity Politics’

Lilla criticizes the invocation of “identity politics,” which is basically marginalized groups pointing out the fact that they exist and demanding equal rights. …


What I recall from reading the news in the early years of Trump’s candidacy and presidency

A fist punching through glass.
A fist punching through glass.

From the early days of Trumpism, before and after the man was elected, I took a lot of notes. Many of the details have resolved themselves and are no longer actionable items of political protest, but the broader-brush issues are still important to think about.

Now that the administration is history, each of us who lived through the administration should contemplate how history should be told. I am certainly not the only one who should tell it— others surely have more important and interesting perspectives than mine — but, at the same time, it is my responsibility to do some…


‘Fringe-ology’ by Steve Volk offers to make space for better discussions

Fringe-ology by Steve Volk

“This is a book about us,” Steve Volk says, about believers and unbelievers alike. It’s a book about the people who we are, more than it is a book about that which we do or don’t believe. Ideologues of either type — believers and unbelievers — often behave “as mean, petty bullies.” Often, we don’t have the true answer, but we are “neurologically uncomfortable with ambiguity” and we gravitate to “false certainty.”

The book is Fringe-ology: How I Tried to Explain Away the Unexplainable — And Couldn’t (2011).

People who report paranormal experiences are often “ordinary people who didn’t ask…


Jennifer Eberhardt on the rapid assessments we make about race

Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do is a 2019 book by Stanford University social psychologist Jennifer Eberhardt. It addresses our unconscious assumptions about race, particularly those that are detrimental to Black people in the United States.

How do stereotyping and prejudice work? Quickly and effortlessly, with or without justification. Eberhardt writes:

“Take the category ‘apples.’ This category contains our beliefs about how apples grow, where they grow, what varieties exist, what colors they come in, how large they are, what they feel like, what they taste like, when we should eat them, whether…


A poem by Tucker Lieberman, written after ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas!’ by Dr. Seuss

Audio

The writer has recorded himself reading this poem aloud. Pull up the SoundCloud audio if you’d like to hear it.

Text

Every Jew stuck in Egypt wanted freedom so bad.
But the Pharaoh who lived in the palace was mad!
Pharaoh was mad at the Passover season.
Please don’t ask why. There are ten morbid reasons.
An eleventh reason was that his crown was too tight.
And maybe his beard wasn’t screwed on quite right.
If you give me some wine and catch me off guard,
I’ll tell you his heart baked a little too hard.

The profile of Tutankhamun’s golden face. The turquoise beard is noticeable. It is like a protruding stick.
The profile of Tutankhamun’s golden face. The turquoise beard is noticeable. It is like a protruding stick.
Image by Maaark from Pixabay

What lifestyle does a hard-hearted…


Say something unexpected, and don’t explain it

Detail from the cover of How Fiction Works by James Wood
Detail from the cover of How Fiction Works by James Wood
Detail from the book cover of How Fiction Works by James Wood.

The Magic of Not Explaining The Joke

Among the many literary examples that James Wood shares in his 2018 revised edition of How Fiction Works, a couple stood out to me. They are examples of novelists choosing a word ironically. To me, the magic of these passages Wood chose — although he says something a bit different about them — is that they allow a joke to stand on its own.

Two Examples

Example 1: ‘In Heaven And Yet, Embarrassingly, Also In Kensal Green’

“…the little girl was faintly conscious that one couldn’t rest with quite the same tucked-in and kissed-for-good-night feeling. Mrs. Wix was as safe as Clara Matilda, who was in heaven and yet, embarrassingly, also in Kensal…


‘The Forgotten Garden’ by Kate Morton is a fictional journey to unpack a family history

Book cover. Kate Morton: The Forgotten Garden
Book cover. Kate Morton: The Forgotten Garden
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

The Forgotten Garden, a mystery novel published in 2008 by the bestselling Australian author Kate Morton, is a hefty page-turner about a search for biological ancestors. It is a story about women: how they acquire their daughters, how they treat each other, and how they define their identities as mothers.

Morton’s novel spans five generations and more than a century on two continents. In the era in England where most of the action happens, the rich ride in horse-drawn carriages and the poor die of untreated consumption. The story skips between the modern sleuth uncovering her family history and the…


Their reason wasn’t as complicated as they made it sound.

Pencil sharpener, pencil, and wood shavings on a notebook page.
Pencil sharpener, pencil, and wood shavings on a notebook page.
Pencil image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

After graduating college in 2002, I began keeping a list of all the books I read cover-to-cover. The list began on a sheet of notebook paper, and, as it grew, I transferred the information onto Goodreads (which hadn’t yet been bought by Amazon). By now, I’ve logged over 1,600 titles.

Usually, I read books I expect to like, and I give them positive reviews. Occasionally, I read a book I dislike, a reaction that may be expected or unexpected to me. I make a pointed comment (or several) that at least reveals, and perhaps justifies, where I’m coming from. …

Tucker Lieberman

Writing on dignity, democracy, and the pursuit of truth. Author: ‘Ten Past Noon: Focus and Fate at Forty’ https://tuckerlieberman.com/ten-past-noon

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