October 21, 2005
The normblog profile 109: Sissy Willis
Before the glory of the blogosphere freed up her creative energies, New England Yankee graphic designer Sissy Willis was retooling for a second career in landscape architecture, earning an MLA from the Harvard Design School and honing her fisking skills by clipping, underlining and feverishly annotating the margins of tree-based publications. She lives with husband Tuck and feline companions Tiny and Baby in an 1842-vintage Greek Revival house on the shores of the Chelsea Creek just north of Boston. Her blog name, sisu - a Finnish concept having to do with gutsiness - derives from her distaff heritage.
Why do you blog? > Putting the old media's feet to the fire and having a say in framing the national/international debate are right up there, together with 'the importance of being noticed' in the Rowbotham sense (see most influential non-fiction question below). Plus the opportunity to showcase my photography and other artwork.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Two things: The rough-and-tumble status game of the Ecosystem and the warm-and-witty meeting of hearts and minds amongst fellow bloggers and readers. I love those kids.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > When my blogging service crashed and lost 25 photographic images. Fortunately, I had copies in my own hard drives and was able to restore everything, albeit labour-intensively. My reward was a free year's subscription from TypePad.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Put your best foot forward, jump in and have fun.
What are your favourite blogs? > InstaPundit, Lucianne and Roger L. Simon, plus a handful of sweet-and-savoury sentimental faves in my blogroll. They are all so dear and fun to read, each in its own way.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > Charles Darwin, Niccolo Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, The Founding Fathers, Friedrich Hayek.
What are you reading at the moment? > Michael Crichton's State of Fear.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Don't know if it's the best, but it was the hardest to put down: John Fowles's The Magus.
What is your favourite poem? > I love William Blake's 'The Tyger'. Dazzling imagery, red in tooth and claw, makes mincemeat of the peaceable kingdom paradigm.
What is your favourite movie? > Moonstruck - Shakespearean grasp of the glory and despair of human striving. And the MUSIC is to die for.
What is your favourite song? > Mozart's 'Ave Verum Corpus'. Goosebumps and endless tears.
Who is your favourite composer? > Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > God helps those who help themselves.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > Utopianism of every stripe. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > Dr. Peter F. Rowbotham's 1992 essay - I stumbled upon it in Person, Place and Thing, an anthology of essays in cultural geography, while doing a grad school paper on neighbourhoods and networking - 'The Importance of Being Noticed'. It's an all-encompassing theory of the universal Darwinian quest for approval amongst one's peers, however defined. It makes sense of everything from Islamofascist death cults to teams of astronauts reaching for the stars, and I've had occasion to cite Rowbotham's thesis early and often on sisu.
Who are your political heroes? > Winnie, Maggie, Ronnie, Natan Sharansky.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > It's a toss-up between the French proverb 'Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose' and George Santayana's 'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.'
What would you do with the UN? > Clear the decks and set a new course.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Human nature.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > It could go either way. My concern is that even as human nature stays the same, ever more awesome technologies that could be used for either good or evil become available to sociopathic death cultists like the Islamofascists of the current era.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > What would Mummy think?
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Integrity.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Disingenuousness.
What is your favourite proverb? > 'Eat, drink and be merry.'
What would you call your autobiography? > Who knew?
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > In a Richard Meier-designed house, set in landscape designed by Reed Hilderbrand Associates and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean somewhere along the Eastern Seaboard.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Cooking, playing with the animals, Friday online Wall Street Journal crossword-puzzle dates with the husband.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > Mark Twain.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > I would endow Boston's cutting-edge MSPCA Angell Memorial for research in veterinary medicine.
What animal would you most like to be? > Haliaeetus leucocephalus (American Eagle).
[The normblog profile is a weekly Friday morning feature. A list of all the profiles to date, and the links to them, can be found here.]