The Art of Tetman Callis

Some of the stories and poems may be inappropriate for persons under 16

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Dinner at the nothing burger diner

September 24th, 2018 · No Comments

“The images, the language, of pornography and romance are alike; monotonous and mechanically seductive, quickly leading to despair.” – Alice Munro, “Bardon Bus”

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Not guilty

September 23rd, 2018 · No Comments

“She had never been able to get rid of the fourteen-year-old girl within herself who was ashamed of her breasts and had the disagreeable feeling that she was indecent, because they stuck out from her body and were visible. Even though she was proud of being pretty and having a good figure, this feeling of pride was always immediately curtailed by shame. She rightly suspected that feminine beauty functioned above all as sexual provocation and she found this distasteful. She longed for her body to be related only to the man she loved. When men stared at her breasts in the street it seemed to her that they were invading a piece of her most secret privacy which should belong only to herself and her lover.” – Milan Kundera, “The Hitchhiking Game” (trans. Suzanne Rappaport)

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Where they fester

September 22nd, 2018 · No Comments

“Childish desires withstand all the snares of the adult mind and often survive into ripe old age.” – Milan Kundera, “The Hitchhiking Game” (trans. Suzanne Rappaport)

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No laughing matter

September 21st, 2018 · No Comments

“A man lives a sad life when he cannot take anything or anyone seriously.” – Milan Kundera, “Edward and God” (trans. Suzanne Rappaport)

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It’s been known to happen

September 20th, 2018 · No Comments

“If you run your mouth long enough, you’ll say something sensible.” – Dale Wisely, Editor, Right Hand Pointing

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Sorry, can’t help you

September 19th, 2018 · No Comments

“You are free and that is why you are lost.” – Nadine Gordimer, quoting Franz Kafka, in “Letter from His Father”

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Or doesn’t

September 18th, 2018 · No Comments

“It’s an exceptionally smart man who isn’t marked forever by the sexual theories he hears from his father.” – Saul Bellow, “A Silver Dish”

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Snarky lot

September 17th, 2018 · No Comments

“Some in their discourse desire rather commendation of wit, in being able to hold all arguments, than of judgment, in discerning what is true; as if it were a praise to know what might be said, and not what should be thought.” – Francis Bacon, “Of Discourse”

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You could get lucky

September 16th, 2018 · No Comments

“If you lead a completely useless life, but do it with style and die young enough, you’re quite likely to be remembered with more affection than the man who has a record of accomplishment. But the secret is to die young enough. If you think you’re going to live to a ripe old age, it’s better to pile up a record of accomplishment of some sort. It may be bridge-building, or money-making, or butterfly-collecting, but it has to be something. People don’t like to see longevity wasted on a do-nothing.” – John O’Hara, “Flight”

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Gone with the wind

September 15th, 2018 · No Comments

”War’s not just only war; it’s years out of people’s lives that they’ve never had before and won’t have again.” – Elizabeth Bowen, “Mysterious Kôr”

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If even then

September 14th, 2018 · No Comments

“We must look a long time before we can see.” – Henry David Thoreau

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Pro tip

September 13th, 2018 · No Comments

“Most problems aren’t rocket science, but when they are rocket science, you should ask a rocket scientist about them.” Captain Scott Kelly, “What I Learned in Space” (emphasis in original)

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Facing the proportions

September 12th, 2018 · No Comments

“A person’s nose is one eye wide, as is the distance between their eyes. A mouth is two eyes wide. A face is three noses long. A nose is as long as your ear.” – Molly Fitzpatrick, “Faces of Death (And Larry David)”

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Power is its own reason

September 11th, 2018 · No Comments

“It’s the same double-standard, always;
a god can sleep with as many
mortals as he wants
but a goddess takes a man as a lover
and Zeus must intervene.
I decried Zeus for his indiscretions
with Leda and Europa,
but, alas, he’s Zeus, and there’s no reasoning.
When I uttered Leda’s name, I faltered,
because she’s the reason for Helen
and this insipid war.
At the crack in my voice, Zeus
chuckled—I knew my case was lost
but tried every trick possible,
Odysseus isn’t really a mortal—
he’s almost a god, or why would Athena,
your daughter, from your own head sprung,
so adore him? Or
Odysseus is less than a mortal—
it was a pity. He washed up on my shore,
more a half-drowned kitten than a man—
can I keep him?
But none of these worked.
Zeus, who must have Hera and Leda
and Europa and many others
can’t understand the curse
of being alone
and immortal
in paradise.”

Shaindel Beers, “The Calypso Diaries” (emphasis in original)

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Already gone

September 10th, 2018 · No Comments

“Sometimes you let him go because it is more cruel
than keeping him.
Sometimes you let him go because freedom
is the opposite of love.
Sometimes you let him go because freedom
is the only love.”

Shaindel Beers, “The Calypso Diaries”

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Democracy in action

September 9th, 2018 · No Comments

“We voted constantly on everything—issues and offices of every kind. We were expected at every age to have an opinion on all matters . . . . We voted in fifth-grade physics that half a pound of feathers weighed more than half a pound of steel. We were adamant. Knowledge itself was a democracy. We studied fanatically. We were as competitive as only a child state can be. We voted to stone the girl who banged her head—not because she banged her head, but because she was so fat and furtive and whining all the time. She lost a loafer running across the athletic field. None of the stones hit. We were too uncoordinated and too young to throw accurately across the distance we had also, in all fairness, voted for. The space-time continuum became clear to us with that event. So, perhaps, did the quality of mercy, after all.” – Renata Adler, Speedboat

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Hard to say

September 8th, 2018 · No Comments

“I think that if people began thinking about death sooner they’d make fewer foolish mistakes.” – Dmitri Shostakovich (quoted by David Dubal in The Essential Canon of Classical Music)

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If you’re the praying sort

September 7th, 2018 · No Comments

“I think that when you are truly stuck, when you have stood still in the same spot for too long, you throw a grenade in exactly the spot you were standing in, and jump, and pray. It is the momentum of last resort.” – Renata Adler, Speedboat

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Classy

September 6th, 2018 · No Comments

“It is curious that in these republican countries where ‘Jack is as good as his master,’ and much better in his own estimation, there is a much wider gap between class and class than there is in England. There, at least in the old times, you would go an see your poorer neighbours and rather enjoy a talk with them, especially in the country. Here [Australia] if you did anything of the kind they would return your call and bring their children to tea. The consequence is that, though we are surrounded by little farms, I do not know one of the farmers’ wives, even by sight, except an old lady, whose milking-yard borders the road to the post-office, so that I have seen her in passing. Mr Taylor knows most of the men, so far as saying good day to them, but any further intimacy would lead to their borrowing every tool and instrument on the farm, to say nothing of horses and oxen.” – Rachel Henning Taylor, April 8, 1874, The Letters of Rachel Henning, ed. David Adams

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It can be gotten around to

September 5th, 2018 · No Comments

“That ‘writers write’ is meant to be self-evident. People like to say it. I find it is hardly ever true. Writers drink. Writers rant. Writers phone. Writers sleep. I have met very few writers who write at all.” – Renata Adler, Speedboat

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Useful as a Swiss army knife

September 4th, 2018 · No Comments

“The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, shit detector.” – Ernest Hemingway (interviewed by George Plimpton in Paris Review)

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Are you left-handed or right-handed

September 3rd, 2018 · No Comments

“There are times when every act, no matter how private or unconscious, becomes political. Whom you live with, how you wear your hair, whether you marry, whether you insist that your child take piano lessons, what are the brand names on your shelf; all these become political decisions. At other times, no act—no campaign or tract, statement or rampage—has any political charge at all. People with the least sense of which times are, and which are not, political are usually most avid about politics.” – Renata Adler, Speedboat

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And don’t fall in

September 2nd, 2018 · No Comments

“Trying to write something of permanent value is a full-time job even though only a few hours a day are spent on the actual writing. A writer can be compared to a well. There are as many kinds of wells as there are writers. The important thing is to have good water in the well, and it is better to take a regular amount out than to pump the well dry and wait for it to refill.” – Ernest Hemingway (interviewed by George Plimpton in Paris Review)

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Shush

September 1st, 2018 · No Comments

“Now sometimes when I can’t sleep, I wonder. A twenty-four hour curfew every day, for everybody. Suppose we blow up the whole thing. Everything. Everybody. Me. Buildings. No room. Blast. All dead. No survivors. And then I would say, and then I would say, Let’s just have it a little quiet around here.” – Renata Adler, Speedboat

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The expendables

August 31st, 2018 · No Comments

“The natural sex ratio at birth is skewed in favor of boys, but they are more likely than girls to be born preterm and die in their first years of life. Women live longer than men and recover faster when they fall ill. Science is yet to find out why.” – “The way we are,” The Economist, July 1, 2017

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Pointed

August 30th, 2018 · No Comments

“What is the point. That is what must be borne in mind. Sometimes the point is really who wants what. Sometimes the point is what is right or kind. Sometimes the point is a momentum, a fact, a quality, a voice, an intimation, a thing said or unsaid. Sometimes it’s who’s at fault, or what will happen if you do not move at once. The point changes and goes out. You cannot be forever watching for the point, or you lose the simplest thing: being a major character in your own life.” – Renata Adler, Speedboat

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A never-ending tale

August 29th, 2018 · No Comments

“Of all minor afflictions, house-cleaning is the worst.” – Rachel Henning, March 1, 1854, The Letters of Rachel Henning, ed. David Adams

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The backhanded compliment

August 28th, 2018 · No Comments

“It certainly does not do to have too low a threshold for being insulted. Even the affectionate insult, or the compliment with any sort of spin on it, can reverberate in memory in awful ways. ‘I love your little fat legs,’ Paul said to Joanne. He had watched her walking toward him on the beach. He was so in love with her that, although he meant it, he may not even have heard what he said, exactly. She never forgave him. She slept with him for another year and then married his enemy and rival, the only man Paul had ever hated in the world. ‘You have beautiful eyes and lovely hands,’ Leroy said to Jane, ‘and when you smile, to me you’re beautiful.’ She never forgave him, either. She married him. Their life together was hell for fifty years. ‘Has anyone ever told you that you’re lovely?’ is, of necessity, a minefield. There is no conceivable proper answer. It all ends in disaster anyway.” – Renata Adler, Speedboat

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Parking on the left is now parking on the right

August 27th, 2018 · No Comments

“So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distractions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts.” – James Madison, “The Federalist 10”

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The rowing or

August 26th, 2018 · No Comments

“There is a mystery in lawyers’ expressions. False and misleading statements, for instance. Always together. False and misleading. Can’t understand what the ‘misleading’ is doing there. It’s always there. And I’ve found, I think, the strongest ‘or’ in language anywhere. It’s the lawyers’ phrase: as he then well knew or should have known. Well knew or should have known. The strongest or.” – Renata Adler, Speedboat

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