This past weekend, The New York Times Magazine published an excerpt/adaptation of Monkey Mind that it called “The Maniac in Me.” Which isn’t a bad title, I think, though it does make me picture one of the inmates from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” miniaturized and tramping around inside my skull. Particularly, for some reason, the character played by Christopher Lloyd:
Which I realize is in itself a maniacal thought.
In any event, as the magazine was going to press the editors asked my brother Scott to write a blog post about his ongoing project “The Book of Scott,” which I discuss in the excerpt. “The Book of Scott,” as I describe it and Scott confirms in his post, emerged out of a desire — a need, even — to benefit from the same kind of equanimity and comfort that people of faith often gain from their scriptures. The Smiths aren’t religious folk, for the most part. Should we suffer for our faithlessness? (God-fearers, don’t answer that question.) As Scott explains,
When my own life stresses bunched up one year — I’m a strategist for a design studio in Portland, and also a writer — I started thinking about what I believed in: self-reliance, mindfulness, the power of creativity as play, radical honesty about the brevity and disappointments of life. Also: fart jokes…. I started collecting my own set of scriptures, proverbs and psalms from secular sages and prophets.
It’s an ongoing project, and will no doubt take a while to complete. It isn’t easy to develop your own spiritual canon! But the epigraphs, quotations, and injunctions he has in there thus far — from Flaubert, Hemingway, and Mel Brooks, to name just a few — are pretty damned great. Check out the full “Book of Scott” here.