Why subscribe to Homo Vitruvius?

Why read a writer?

Because you like what he says. You like the way he says it. He makes you think. He makes you feel. Maybe even, when it all goes right, he takes you somewhere: the air is a little thinner, it’s fragrant, there’s a certain kind of — luminous — light . . .

That’s what Homo Vitruvius is about: the rewards of language, the artifice of the written word. It’s the site — the stack — where every week I publish what I create out of words.

Photo by Julia Dean

I write in all genres, from poetry to fiction to essay to drama, and my concerns, through my life in literature and as a writer, reflect a regular engagement with history, society, and ideas, an engagement that produces, sometimes, political and cultural commentary as well. In all this, Homo Vitruvius serves a passionate dedication to the writing itself. To revise Wallace Stevens (“Not Ideas About the Thing But the Thing Itself”), not just words about the ideas but the words themselves. The writing isn’t just a vehicle to a destination, a means to an end — it’s a destination. I hope you’ll find the travel its own reward.

As a former professor of English (but once a professor of English always a professor of English), I’m also a reader. I’m a reader first. I write what I read of the world, the text of the world, which is mine and everyone’s life, to be deciphered and interpreted, understood and mistaken: (“Sing of human unsuccess”). In various ways, then, my writing on Homo Vitruvius is often about reading. Though, perhaps, both inevitably and by propitious chance, my work here grows beyond my original intent, I do have an original purpose.

You can read more about My Substack Project here:

The Publication Schedule (all arriving in your mailbox at 7 a.m. EST)

Mondays: the 4 paid subscriber themed featured series: 1) Recommendations and Reviews (Recs & Revs) that share some of the discovered compendia of my peripatetic burrowing into World Wide Web rabbit holes and through networks of real-world research, with writing from that research; 2) the Magellanic Diaries —communiques from the late 15th and early 16th century world of The Dream of Don Juan de Cartagena, my novel in progress about the Ferdinand Magellan expedition, first to circumnavigate the Earth; 3) Extraordinary Ordinary People, explorations into notable lives of the not so famous and renowned; A Reader’s Review, a monthly compendium of the best of my broad periodical reading, followed by a free, in-depth Thursday exploration into the ideas of one the recommended articles.

Thursdays: Free essays, personal and intellectual flights of imagination: creative nonfiction and memoir; cultural, literary, and political analysis; with some poetry and fiction, too.

Among my recent non-Substack publications is my 2021 poetry collection Waiting for Word published by Finishing Line Press.

Also in 2021, my writing on Native America, “San Carlos Apache Reservation,” to accompany the documentary photography of Julia Dean, appeared in the “Americans” issue of ProgressivEzine. Since then, in fall 2022, I published my culminating thoughts, after a lifetime of reading and teaching him, on “Hemingway in the Twenty-First Century,” in the Hong Kong review. My poetry appeared in the spring 2023 California Quarterly.

In 2015, I was a featured writer in the inaugural issue of Footnote: a Literary Journal of History.

Currently, I’m at work on a novel of the Sixteenth Century Magellan circumnavigation of the Earth, The Dream of Don Juan de Cartagena. I write about related topics in a regular feature of Homo Vitruvius called The Magellanic Diaries.

Dip your toes in to learn more

A couple of popular essays about myself

Two other popular essays

Two of my favorite essays

About the substack letter’s name and logo: Leonardo Da Vinci’s 1487 Renaissance and pre-Enlightenment drawing, known as Vitruvian man, inspired by ideas of the Roman architect Vitruvius Pollio, sought to represent, in a man equally circumscribed by the circle and the square, a “Canon of Proportions”: a “cosmografia del minor mondo (cosmography of the microcosm). [Leonardo] believed the workings of the human body to be an analogy for the workings of the universe." That is, to see the human in the universe and the universe in the human, or, as I add, to think in proportion, even about the disproportionate.

The human and thinker best representatively depicting such an ideal, it is the position of Homo Vitruvius, is of course, Buster Keaton behind bars, forlornly gazing beyond them.

Finally, for now, why not visit my writer website?

Thanks so much for reading. You read; therefore, the writer exists.

Become a Vitruvian by subscribing and you’ll receive one essay per week, on Wednesday, including The Magellanic diaries and other recurring features, as well as access to the most recent three-month archive of essays.

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Subscribe to Homo Vitruvius by A. Jay Adler

Essays on literature, culture, society, and all things human. Poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and memoir. A writer's renascent light against the darkness. "Sing of human unsuccess / In a rapture of distress."


Writer. Reader. Roper of stars and Professor of English. New York and Los Angeles. Essays, poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction, memoir. A writer's renascent light against the darkness, shined through, literature, culture, and ideas.