There was a time when I was writing everything in lower case. Abandoning caps changed the way the words flowed together in a piece. Every once in a while I still write a lower-case piece, but it’s mostly something I did in the mid-90s.
Another thing I did in the mid-90s and still sometimes do is write very short pieces. Abandoning caps works better in shorter pieces, since total lower case is not just a little hard on the eyes, it’s also a little more challenging to the mind. Have to be careful with all that.
But going deep campo for lower case wasn’t the principal reason I wrote short pieces. I had it in mind to see how short I could get a story to go and still have a full and symmetrical piece. It seemed about 350 words was the bottom limit. Pieces also seemed to develop their own internal necessity of length, with around 450 words and 675 words being approximate “natural” lengths for my work.
My first published piece of fiction was in all lower case, and this week it’s the story I’m posting: “eleanor in uncertain way, pulling.” It was published in NuCity in July of 1995. (NuCity later became The Weekly Alibi and continued to publish my stuff from time to time.)
“No history of the American Revolution, or of the political literature to which it gave birth, would be complete without consideration of the loyalists. That independence was in fact the work of a minority, and that the methods by which the loyal majority was overawed and, in part, expelled were as high-handed and cruel as they were active and vigorous, must be freely conceded. Weighty as was the colonial argument, force and violence were freely employed to give effect to it.” — from The Cambridge History of English and American Literature, Vol. XV, Ch. 8
“A few years ago, a group of economists looked at more than a hundred Fortune 500 firms, trying to figure out what predicted how much money the C.E.O. made. Compensation, it turned out, was only weakly related to the size and profitability of the company. What really mattered was how much money the members of the compensation committee of the board of directors made in their jobs. Pay is not determined vertically, in other words, according to the characteristics of the organization an executive works for; it is determined horizontally, according to the characteristics of the executive’s peers. They decide, among themselves, what the right amount is. This is not a market.” — Malcolm Gladwell, “Talent Grab”
“Advertisements of merchandise in all the colonies throw a good deal of light on the customs of the time, and, incidentally, also on the popular taste in reading. We find that Peter Turner has ‘Superfine Scarlet Cloth, Hat Linings, Tatlers, Spectators, and Barclay’s Apology’; that Peter Harry imports ‘Head Flowers in Boxes, Laces and Edgings, Psalm-books, Play-books, the Guardians in 2 vol., Women’s Short Cloaks, Men’s Scarlet Great Coats’ and other apparel. The ship Samuel, from London, brings over ‘sundry goods, particularly a very choice collection of printed Books, Pictures, Maps and Pickles, to be Sold very reasonable by Robert Pringle.'” — from The Cambridge History of English and American Literature, Vol. XV, Ch. 7
“An old-time classification of the human faculties will serve to explain the development of American thought in the eighteenth century, a development which led to the overthrow of high Calvinism. As there were three divisions of the human mind—intellect, sensibility, and will, so were there three divisions among the enemies of orthodoxy. Those who followed the intellect were the rationalists, or deists. Those who followed sensibility were the “hot” men, or enthusiasts. Those who followed the will were the ethical reformers, who emphasized the conscious cultivation of morality rather than a divinely wrought change in man’s nature.” — from The Cambridge History of English and American Literature, Vol. XV, Ch. 5
“All theory is against the freedom of the will, all experience for it.” — Dr. Samuel Johnson
“Art is a sort of experimental station in which one tries out living.” — John Cage (from “Searching for Silence,” by Alex Ross)
“The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoint them.” — Thomas Jefferson, 1774
“I like to do things that frighten me. When I’m afraid, I understand more things.” — David Grossman (from “The Unconsoled,” by George Packer)
“On his attaining to nirvana, Sakyamuni became the Buddha, and had no longer to mourn his being within the circle of transmigration, and could rejoice in an absolute freedom from passion, and a perfect purity. Still he continued to live on for forty-five years, till he attained to pari-nirvana, and had done with all the life of sense and society, and had no more exercise of thought. He died; but whether he absolutely and entirely ceased to be, in any sense of the word being, it would be difficult to say. Probably he himself would not and could not have spoken definitely on the point.” — from The Travels of Fa-Hien, Ch. XII (trans. Legge)
“There is a tradition that when Buddha came to North India, he came at once to this country [Udyana], and that here he left a print of his foot, which is long or short according to the ideas of the beholder on the subject. It exists, and the same thing is true about it, at the present day. Here also are still to be seen the rock on which he dried his clothes, and the place where he converted the wicked dragon. The rock is fourteen cubits high, and more than twenty broad, with one side of it smooth.” — from The Travels of Fa-Hien, Ch. VIII (trans. Legge)
“Mourning: a cruel country where I am no longer afraid.” — Roland Barthes, 1977.
The Center for Bioethics and Humanities at SUNY Upstate Medical University publishes an annual litmag called The Healing Muse. In their most recent issue (#10) they included my short piece, “The Take-Out,” which is the story I’m posting this week.
“The dream of artists–which is simply the dream of friends and lovers, magnified–is to plant themselves in other people’s heads.” — Tad Friend, “Sleeping with Weapons”
“Science and literature must both occupy a great place in university education. But the former ignores sin, and the latter knows it only too well.” — The Cambridge History of English and American Literature, Vol. XIV, Ch. 14
“All the dreams you show up in are not your own.” — Gil Scott-Heron
“If a people is to be judged solely by its crimes and its sins, all the people of this planet are utterly damned. Such judgments can produce only the deepest kind of anarchy. The civilized judgment, on which depends all the possibilities of a decent human life, requires that men, while condemning and resisting evil deeds, should be unfaltering in their faith in and their response to the healing impulses of their fellow men.” — Walter Lippmann, 1933
“In the future, to make a fortune will be considered as improper for the head of a big business as for the President of the United States or the mayor of a city.” — Walter Lippmann, 1934
“In every State it should be a fundamental maxim that the education of youth should be particularly formed and adapted to the nature and end of its government.” — Thomas Sheridan, 1756 (from The Cambridge History of English and American Literature, Vol. XIV, Ch. 14)
“The history of diplomacy is the history of relations among rival powers, which did not enjoy political intimacy, and did not respond to appeals to common purposes. Nevertheless, there have been settlements. Some of them did not last very long. Some of them did. For a diplomat to think that rival and unfriendly powers cannot be brought to a settlement is to forget what diplomacy is all about. There would be little for diplomats to do if the world consisted of partners, enjoying political intimacy, and responding to common appeals.” — Lippmann, The Cold War
“Love endures only when the lovers love many things together, and not merely each other.” — Lippmann, A Preface to Morals
“Laissez-faire is dead and the modern state has become responsible for the modern economy as a whole. The task of insuring the continuity of the standard of life for its people is now as much the fundamental duty of the state as the preservation of national independence.” — Walter Lippmann, Godkin Lectures, 1934.
The story I’m posting this week, “The Congenital Fiance”, first appeared in Caketrain a couple of years ago. I wrote it some years back, not long before the Umpteenth World War started. The world wasn’t any younger or more innocent or necessarily safer or nicer in those days, but part of the world that ended on the bright autumn day when the towers came down–ending in the unpredictable way in which worlds end–was the world in which an American could casually engage in street photography with a 35mm SLR without being suspected of being either a terrorist or a government agent.
Which is neither here nor there and has practically nothing to do with “The Congenital Fiance”.
“In an earlier era men like John Milton and John Stuart Mill had argued that liberty depended on a press free from censorship and intimidation. They were concerned primarily with freedom of belief and expression. But in modern democracies the problem was different. The press could be ‘free’ and still fail to do its job. Without accurate and unbiased information the public could not form intelligent decisions. Democracy would be either a failure or a sham.” — Steel, Walter Lippmann and the American Century
“If the voter cannot grasp the details of the problems of the day because he has not the time, the interest or the knowledge, he will not have a better public opinion because he is asked to express his opinion more often.” — Lippmann, The Phantom Public
“Most political theory assumed that the average man could, if presented with the facts, make reasonable decisions. But what if access to the facts was blocked by propaganda, ignorance and willful distortion? How would this affect the assumption that the average man could make intelligent decisions about public issues?” — Steel, Walter Lippmann and the American Century
“Life is an end in itself, and the only question as to whether it is worth living is whether you have had enough of it.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (from Steel’s Walter Lippmann and the American Century)
It should be noted here and now (if not earlier) that the Lippmann quotes being posted to this site are sourced from Ronald Steel’s Walter Lippmann and the American Century, published in 1980 by the Atlantic Monthly Press.
“It is labor organized that alone can stand between America and the creation of a permanent, servile class.” — Lippmann, Drift and Mastery
“The curse of great fortunes is the degradation of the poor.” — Walter Lippmann
“Once you touch the biographies of human beings, the notion that political beliefs are logically determined collapses like a pricked balloon.” — Lippmann, A Preface to Politics