Monday, March 16, 2015

The Writer's Technique in Thirteen Theses

  1. Anyone intending to embark on a major work should be lenient with himself and, having completed a stint, deny himself nothing that will not prejudice the next.
  2. Talk about what you have written, by all means, but do not read from it while the work is in progress. Every gratification procured in this way will slacken your tempo. If this regime is followed, the growing desire to communicate will become in the end a motor for completion.
  3. In your working conditions avoid everyday mediocrity. Semi-relaxation, to a background of insipid sounds, is degrading. On the other hand, accompaniment by an etude or a cacophony of voices can become as significant for work as the perceptible silence of the night. If the latter sharpens the inner ear, the former acts as a touchstone for a diction ample enough to bury even the most wayward sounds.
  4. Avoid haphazard writing materials. A pedantic adherence to certain papers, pens, inks is beneficial. No luxury, but an abundance of these utensils is indispensable.
  5. Let no thought pass incognito, and keep your notebook as strictly as the authorities keep their register of aliens.
  6. Keep your pen aloof from inspiration, which it will then attract with magnetic power. The more circumspectly you delay writing down an idea, the more maturely developed it will be on surrendering itself. Speech conquers thought, but writing commands it.
  7. Never stop writing because you have run out of ideas. Literary honour requires that one break off only at an appointed moment (a mealtime, a meeting) or at the end of the work.
  8. Fill the lacunae of inspiration by tidily copying out what is already written. Intuition will awaken in the process.
  9. Nulla dies sine linea -- but there may well be weeks.
  10. Consider no work perfect over which you have not once sat from evening to broad daylight.
  11. Do not write the conclusion of a work in your familiar study. You would not find the necessary courage there.
  12. Stages of composition: ideas -- style -- writing. The value of the fair copy is that in producing it you confine attention to calligraphy. The idea kills inspiration, style fetters the idea, writing pays off style.
  13. The work is the death mask of its conception.

Walter Benjamin -- 1928

Friday, March 13, 2015

Gonna Break my Rusty Cage and Run

Lost in immigration.  Confessions of a comma queen. Taking Dorothy Miller Richardson off the second shelf. Own your loser edit. Describing the shape of the manosphere. The fight for the soul of My Little Pony. Welcome to Shitphone. "Her game thrived as folk game, played by a constellation of left-wing intellectuals who began to start calling it 'the monopoly game.' " Rick Rubin annotates lyrics on RapGenius, notably the inestimable Johnny Cash. Similarly, Michael Chabon's thoughts on Kendrick Lamar are worth a scan. "In the West, there’s a tendency to approach censorship with a high-handedness that would seem inappropriate if applied to other issues of development, like poverty. There may in fact be more similarities than we realize." The talking heads behind climate change skepticism. "There is absolutely nothing in this world like the feeling of sucking at something and then improving at it. Everyone should do it every ten years or so."

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Ten Satisfying Ways of Letting Your Enemy Know That You are Ignoring Her, While Still Ignoring Her.

It's not the quantity but the quality of our free time that's changing. The most unusual sound in the Swedish language. Chocolates that represent Japanese onomatopoetic words.The ineffable taste of Doris Lessing. Edible fruit stickers and the rise of the spornosexual. Sweating like a pig, feeling like a fox. 10 Things We'd Like to Hear Virginia Woolf Say to Jonathan Franzen. The slave who posed as a master. These bathing women seemed like goddesses to meWhat They See. Chicago, the last great capital of cartography. We all have the ability to transition. It's just a question of what the person inside you will look like. Modern masculinities. The ultimate WikiGnome. O California. Zadie Smith does Key and PeeleDamage (long but WORTH IT). Meet Tink.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Hard Times Valentines

Fantastic article about homeless couples in New York City, how they met, how they stay together, what life and love looks like on the streets. (via)

Friday, January 16, 2015

The story of Ayotzinapa and the 43 disappeared students.

Life advice from Haruki Murakami.

Is marijuana withdrawal a real thing?

The enduring dystopia of the Handmaid's Tale.

Do we have to ask these questions simply to fall in love? Can't we ask them of all our friends, too?

Get rejected every day with Rejection Therapy!

Righteous anger - 100% men. Shine a light.

Life, love and parenting lessons from Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Debbie Harry in LA, 1977

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

clearing the desk

So glad Chris Rock's new movie is playing, first because we get to watch it, second because there's no better time to have this man speaking out regularly in the news. The chain is around the brain: the sexual exploitation of children in California. The boy from Jurassic Park's college admissions essay. Thierry Cohen's Darkened Cities. Adult siblings and happiness. Ever conscientious, the New York Times takes a moment to explain 'ants on a log' in this article on the life of a pot critic: 'the children’s snack of raisins and peanut butter on top of celery'. Beautiful Norwegian passports. Where to begin with Ursula LeGuin. The junction, the gapers, the merge. 'Let’s just talk about how impossible it is to keep your life from spiraling out of control when you have no financial cushion whatsoever. And let’s also talk about the ways in which money advice is geared only toward people who actually have money in the first place.' Women sing waulking songs of Scotland. Thank me later: an interview with Drake's voice coach.

And finally, the Nakasendo Trail, an old road in Japan that connects Kyoto to Tokyo. It was once a major foot highway, the in-land equivalent of the Hokkaido, traveled by nobles, samurai, and artists like the poet Basho. Today, small sections retain some of its historical feel. More pictures here.

Monday, December 1, 2014

first and foremost

Like many of us, I've been riveted to the news unfolding around Mike Brown's murder; Ferguson, Missouri; and the non-indictment of the grand jury. I click links and read until I feel too angry, or sad, or sick to keep going.

Over the weekend my family and I had long talks about what we'd read. We talked about what a mess everything was. What this said about the state of race relations in our country. Whether we'd made any progress as a nation since the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s. How devastatingly far we still have to go.

But I haven't participated in this conversation online at all. Not a peep. Mostly, I use social media feeds as a reader, as places to consume, not create.

That now seems insufficient. It devastates me to think that, on a matter that so preoccupies me, this silence could be read as apathy. Our country is crumbling. We are all at stake. There is, to me, no more important conversation being had.

So here we are, in this little attic, a place where I sometimes fling my odds and ends so I can return to them later to rifle through, hold things to the light. And in the spirit of this tiny corner, here are scraps of what I've been reading. If you're looking to learn or commiserate or challenge yourself, these might be good places to start:

on waking up and smelling the water. how to argue eloquently about Ferguson. how to address the riot shamers. riots as a 'language of the unheard'. riots as 'exactly what’s supposed to happen when an injustice is happening in your community'. MLK Jr. on the stumbling block of the white moderate more concerned with 'order' than with justice. #IfTheyGunnedMeDown. Last Words. 12 things white people can do because Ferguson. and, closer to home, the demonization of Gary, Indiana.

only a fraction of the preponderance of important, thoughtful things being said right now, buy it's a start.