“Most people who think they are practicing law are actually making binders, and my guess is that most people who think they are doing whatever important thing they are doing are making binders. The binders from law firms go to a locker in a warehouse in a parking lot in an office park off an exit of a turnpike off a highway off an interstate in New Jersey, never to be looked at again. No one ever read them in the first place. But some client was billed for the hourly work.” — Elizabeth Wurzel, from The Cut
Month: April 2013
“As you get older, you start to realize that what actually holds relationships together is just liking the other person in the relationship, wanting them to be around, feeling like they increase the value of your time and that you, despite your evil cursed nature, can do the same for them.” — Jeanne Thornton (interviewed in Bookslut)
“It is possible to find fame at the wrong time. The gods get distracted and send their gifts too late or too soon. If fame comes when we still need it too much, that shining light of acceptance every artist dreams of and chases after, then fame can destroy us. If we still believe it is the answer to all of our needs, the proof that we are worthy creatures after all, it can burn us into position. Stunt us. Quickly turn us into plant matter. If we believe the light will give us all the sustenance we need, we shoot out roots into whatever shallow soil we may find ourselves in the moment we first feel its warmth, bending our bodies towards that radiant light. And bending ever further as it starts to find other targets.” — Jessa Crispin, Bookslut
“What sounds fresh today will stink rotten tomorrow. As a writer you must make a choice: try to catch up with the slang or create your own language that will be fresh and alive always, even after you pass.” – Mikhail Shishkin (interviewed by Jessa Crispin in “Sifting the Desperate Lies from the Truth”)
“If it is to remain something meaningful, philosophy does not have to limit itself to describing things, it has to make things happen, it has to effectuate a change. That’s why the locus of philosophy, the place where it dwells, is not the books, nor the academic papers, but the body of the philosopher. Philosophy does not exist properly unless it is embodied in a human being; in a sense, philosophy is word become flesh.” – Costica Bradatan, “Philosophy as an Art of Living” (emphases in original)
Litro, A Little London Literary Magazine published my story, “Lost Things and Missing Persons,” today in their Story Sunday. You can find it here if you like: http://www.litro.co.uk/
The editors changed a couple spellings to reflect British spelling. They also incited me to tighten up the ending of the story. Endings are probably my weakest spot as a writer. Several of my published stories needed to have their endings fixed after acceptance but before publication.
“The writer can only imitate a gesture forever anterior, never original; his only power is to combine the different kinds of writing, to oppose some by others, so as never to sustain himself by just one of them; if he wants to express himself, at least he should know that the internal ‘thing’ he claims to ‘translate’ is itself only a readymade dictionary whose words can be explained (defined) only by other words, and so on ad infinitum.” – Roland Barthes, “The Death of the Author” (trans. Richard Howard)
“We know that a text does not consist of a line of words, releasing a single ‘theological’ meaning (the ‘message’ of the Author-God), but is a space of many dimensions, in which are wedded and contested various kinds of writing, no one of which is original: the text is a tissue of citations, resulting from the thousand sources of culture.” – Roland Barthes, “The Death of the Author” (trans. Richard Howard)
“Yttat” was published in the Fall 2012 issue of Mayday Magazine. I posted the link to that earlier this week; today I posted the story to the “Previously Published Stories” sidebar on this website.
I knew the story was going to be published by Mayday but lost track of when it was due to come out. It’s possible it was published several months ago. I didn’t know it had been published until this week.
It was published with typos. How did they get there? They were in the original submission Mayday accepted. Of course I thought I had adequately spell-checked and proofed the story before I sent it out. Of course I feel as any writer would feel upon making such mistakes (which I was not aware of until today).
The copy published here has had all its mistakes corrected–unless I missed any.
“You don’t become a great poet in your spare time.” – Jack Gilbert (interviewed by Gordon Lish in “Poetry Is the Art of Prejudice”)
“We are in danger from a glut of mediocrity of an extraordinary high calibre.” – Jack Gilbert (interviewed by Gordon Lish in “Poetry Is the Art of Prejudice”)
“In a work of art, there is a reason why everything happens. Sometimes the author doesn’t even know what the reason is, but some part of them has picked and chosen and arranged. And the art is getting all those demands right.” – William H. Gass (interviewed by Greg Gerke in “Many-Layered Anger”)
“You can’t just write by spilling the words on the page. You have to arrange them. And you have to arrange them not only in terms of one another, but with the sentences that came before, and the sentences you haven’t written yet. They have a demand.” – William H. Gass (interviewed by Greg Gerke in “Many-Layered Anger”)
“Most philosophy is utterly wrong, but oh god, it’s sometimes very gorgeous, and sees connections that can be lived by.” – William H. Gass (interviewed by Greg Gerke in “Many-Layered Anger”)
“Add radio to print and the word became ubiquitous. It overhung the head like smoke and had to be ignored as one ignores most noise. It was by loose use corrupted, by misuse debased, by overuse destroyed. It flew in any eye that opened, in any ear hands didn’t hide, and became, instead of the lord of truth, the servant of the lie.” – William H. Gass, “The Book as a Container of Consciousness”
“Too many writers write about their lives. It’s easier, and it’s seductive, and it can be catastrophic. ‘It happened to me, and therefore it must be interesting.’ You know, that’s sort of awful.” – William H. Gass (interviewed by Greg Gerke in “Many-Layered Anger”)
“Nobody is as crazy as a man who thinks he is important.” – Alasdair Gray, Lanark
“If the maker’s mind is prepared, the immediate materials are always suitable.” – Alasdair Gray, Lanark
Mayday Magazine published my story, “Yttat,” in their Fall 2012 issue. Here’s the link to the contents page:
I’ll probably add the story to the “Previously Published Stories” sidebar this coming weekend, but you can read it through the link on the Mayday contents page any time you like. If you like.
You don’t want him to go planting any bombs or anythingYou don’t want him to go planting any bombs or anything
“It is a dangerous thing to suddenly deprive a man of hope–he can turn violent. It is important to kill hope slowly, so that the loser has time to adjust unconsciously to the loss.” – Alasdair Gray, Lanark (emphasis in original)
“Silence is always proper. When I understand this better I’ll stop talking. You won’t be able to hear me for miles. I will radiate silence like a dark star shining in the gaps between syllables and conversation.” – Alasdair Gray, Lanark
“Stories are the most durable texture of life for us. Not forms of societies, but stories. Stories are really what keeps everything together, in a way. When you are abandoned by stories — when you go back beyond the invention of writing, beyond the literary tradition — you feel of course lost: because one needs stories.” – Roberto Calasso (quoted in “Curator of Miracles in Milan”)
“Conceive yourself, if possible, suddenly stripped of all the emotion with which your world now inspires you, and try to imagine it as it exists, purely by itself, without your favorable or unfavorable, hopeful or apprehensive comment. It will be almost impossible for you to realize such a condition of negativity and deadness. No one portion of the universe would then have importance beyond another; and the whole collection of its things and series of its events would be without significance, character, expression, or perspective. Whatever of value, interest, or meaning our respective worlds may appear endued with are thus pure gifts of the spectator’s mind. The passion of love is the most familiar and extreme example of this fact. If it comes, it comes; if it does not come, no process of reasoning can force it. Yet it transforms the value of the creature loved as utterly as the sunrise transforms Mont Blanc from a corpse-like gray to a rosy enchantment; and it sets the whole world to a new tune for the lover and gives a new issue to his life.” – William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience
“A problem is determinate if it has a definite number of solutions, indeterminate if it has an indefinite number of solutions, and impossible if it has no solution.” – G. A. Wentworth, Plane Geometry (emphases in original)
“Failure, then, failure! so the world stamps us at every turn. We strew it with our blunders, our misdeeds, our lost opportunities, with all the memorials of our inadequacy to our vocation. And with what a damning emphasis does it then blot us out! No easy fine, no mere apology or formal expiation, will satisfy the world’s demands, but every pound of flesh exacted is soaked with all its blood. The subtlest forms of suffering known to man are connected with the poisonous humiliations incidental to these results. And they are pivotal human experiences. A process so ubiquitous and everlasting is evidently an integral part of life. ‘There is indeed one element in human destiny,’ Robert Louis Stevenson writes, ‘that not blindness itself can controvert. Whatever else we are intended to do, we are not intended to succeed; failure is the fate allotted.’” – William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience
“How can things so insecure as the successful experiences of this world afford a stable anchorage? A chain is no stronger than its weakest link, and life is after all a chain. In the healthiest and most prosperous existence, how many links of illness, danger, and disaster are always interposed? Unsuspectedly from the bottom of every fountain of pleasure, as the old poet said, something bitter rises up: a touch of nausea, a falling dead of the delight, a whiff of melancholy, things that sound a knell, for fugitive as they may be, they bring a feeling of coming from a deeper region and often have an appalling convincingness. The buzz of life ceases at their touch as a piano-string stops sounding when the damper falls upon it. Of course the music can commence again; –and again and again,– at intervals. But with this the healthy-minded consciousness is left with an irremediable sense of precariousness. It is a bell with a crack; it draws its breath on sufferance and by an accident. Even if we suppose a man so packed with healthymindedness as never to have experienced in his own person any of these sobering intervals, still, if he is a reflecting being, he must generalize and class his own lot with that of others; and, doing so, he must see that his escape is just a lucky chance and no essential difference. He might just as well have been born to an entirely different fortune. And then indeed the hollow security! What kind of a frame of things is it of which the best you can say is, ‘Thank God, it has let me off clear this time!’ Is not its blessedness a fragile fiction? Is not your joy in it a very vulgar glee, not much unlike the snicker of any rogue at his success? If indeed it were an success, even on such terms as that! But take the happiest man, the one most envied by the world, and in nine cases out of ten his inmost consciousness is one of failure. Either his ideals in the line of his achievements are pitched far higher than the achievements themselves, or else he has secret ideals of which the world knows nothing, and in regard to which he inwardly knows himself to be found wanting.” – William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience
“Neither goodness nor generosity nor courtesy can exist, any more than friendship can, if they are not sought of and for themselves, but are cultivated only for the sake of sensual pleasure or personal advantage.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero, De Officiis (trans. Miller)
“It’s a favorite myth in our culture that hardship makes you a better person, that it is merely the grindstone on which your essence is refined and polished. But the truth is that scarcity, depression, thwarted ambition, and suffering most often leaves the person a little twisted. That is the territory where mean drunks and tyrannical bastards come from.” – Jessa Crispin, “Talking to the Dead: Channeling William James in Berlin”
“[William] James is now a bit of an odd fellow in philosophy. More widely influential than widely known, his theory of pragmatism and his groundbreaking work in the field of psychology make him something of a hidden mover. If you do seek him out, it’s not generally in the way one reads Descartes or Kant or Nietzsche, as a refinement of the intellect or in the pursuit of one’s studies. One finds James when one needs him. He makes quiet sense of the world, in all its glories and deprivations, its calamities and its beauties. As a philosopher, James is able to hold all of the sorrow and violence and pain of the world in his mind and remain somehow optimistic. It doesn’t wipe out the goodness of the world, it just sits beside it. It’s no wonder then that people get a little religious about this agnostic philosopher, this man who can restore your faith in the world, without necessarily bringing god into it.” – Jessa Crispin, “Talking to the Dead: Channeling William James in Berlin”
“Sexism bifurcates human qualities into masculine and feminine. It imposes a gender binary where being a man means not being like a woman and vice-versa. Sexism is often another name for patriarchy, meaning a hierarchy or a rule of priests where the hieros, the priest, is a pater, a father. It designates an order of living that elevates some men over others, separating the men from the boys, and all men over women. It creates a gender hierarchy where human qualities gendered ‘masculine’ are elevated over those gendered ‘feminine.’ As such, it is an order of domination. But in dividing human qualities into masculine and feminine, sexism separates everyone from parts of themselves, creating rifts or splits in the psyche. This fragmentation of the psyche links patriarchy with trauma and explains its deleterious effects on everyone. Boys in becoming men or men wanting to be seen as ‘real men’ will separate their thoughts from their emotions, which are regarded as weak or feminine. As in ‘boys don’t cry.’ And girls will be torn between wanting to be seen as ‘good girls’ or ‘good women,’ meaning not masculine or self-assertive, and wanting to align themselves with the so-called masculine qualities that are privileged and socially valued. In sexist families or religions or societies or cultures, both men and women are pressured to render themselves half-human.” – Carol Gilligan (interviewed by Eve Gerber in The Browser)