How special, you’re a writer

“Writing isn’t a precious thing and I’m not in eternal search of keeping what I do holy or built up out of shimmering gems. I don’t eat my lunch off a gold plated lunch truck. The great American novel doesn’t know it’s the great American novel until it’s been out almost a hundred years and the woman or man who wrote it is dead. Who cares about the great American novel while we’re in the golden age of TV? Art isn’t something you should protect from yourself. Just run towards it full sprint and embrace how ridiculous your ideas are, how unguarded, how close to something a child might think up, lying on their back in a field overgrown with weeds. The sights and sounds of the rotating world revealing itself to you, or not. Take a sip of black gas station quality coffee, take a bite of fish sandwich, write down the adventures of the day. Every day adds up. Every lunch break is something more than a lunch break.” – Bud Smith, Work

Be careful or you’ll be a writer

“The most ordinary movements in the world, such as sitting down at a table and pulling the inkstand towards one, may agitate a thousand odd, disconnected fragments, now bright, now dim, hanging and bobbing and dipping and flaunting, like the underlinen of a family of fourteen on a line in a gale of wind. Instead of being a single, downright, bluff piece of work of which no man need feel ashamed, our commonest deeds are set about with a fluttering and flickering of wings, a rising and falling of lights.” – Virginia Woolf, Orlando

A gift for the city

“In making itself the Trojan Horse of worldwide domination, desire has emptied itself of everything that smacked of domesticity, cosiness, privacy. The precondition of totalitarian reconfiguration of what is desirable has been its autonomy from every real object and all particular content. In learning to train itself on essences, desire has become, despite itself, an absolute desire, a desire for the absolute that nothing earthly can quench. This unquenchability is the central lever of consumption, and of its subversion.” – Tiqqun, Preliminary Materials For a Theory of the Young-Girl

Seducing sexbots

“The spread of the seduction relation into all social activities signals the death of whatever was still living within it. The spread of simulation is also what renders seduction more and more obviously impossible. Now is the time of the greatest unhappiness, the streets filled with heartless sensualists, seducers mourning for seduction, the corpses of desires nobody knows what to do with.” – Tiqqun, Preliminary Materials For a Theory of the Young-Girl

The skinny on the skinny

“Anorexia expresses in women the same aporia that is manifest in men in the form of the pursuit of power: the will to mastery. It is only that, because of the greater severity of the culture’s patriarchal codification upon women, the anorexic brings the will to mastery to bear upon her body, for she cannot bring it to bear on the rest of the world.” – Tiqqun, Preliminary Materials For a Theory of the Young-Girl

The incurables

“Once the disease of reading has laid hold upon the system it weakens it so that it falls an easy prey to that other scourge which dwells in the ink pot and festers in the quill. The wretch takes to writing. And while this is bad enough in a poor man, whose only property is a chair and table set beneath a leaky roof—for he has not much to lose, after all—the plight of a rich man, who has houses and cattle, maidservants, asses and linen, and yet writes books, is pitiable in the extreme. The flavour of it all goes out of him; he is riddled by hot irons; gnawed by vermin. He would give every penny he has (such is the malignity of the germ) to write one little book and become famous; yet all the gold in Peru will not buy him the treasure of a well-turned line. So he falls into consumption and sickness, blows his brains out, turns his face to the wall. It matters not in what attitude they find him. He has passed through the gates of Death and knows the flames of Hell.” – Virginia Woolf, Orlando

Can you tie it in a knot, can you tie it in a bow, does it go down low

“The Young-Girl privatizes everything she apprehends. Thus, a philosopher is not a philosopher to her, but an extravagant erotic object, and likewise, a revolutionary is not a revolutionary, but costume jewelry.” – Tiqqun, Preliminary Materials For a Theory of the Young-Girl

Girls just want to have fun

“It is through the Young-Girl that capitalism has managed to extend its hegemony to the totality of social life. She is the most obstinate pawn of market domination in a war whose objective remains the total control of daily life and ‘productive’ time. It is precisely because she represents the total acculturation of the self, because she defines herself in terms fixed by extraneous judgment, that the Young-Girl constitutes the most advanced carrier of the ethos and the abstract behavioral norms of the Spectacle.” – Tiqqun, Preliminary Materials For a Theory of the Young-Girl

Hanging the court jester

“Codes of law and morals, or religious systems, never have much room in them for a humorous view of life. Whatever is funny is subversive, every joke is ultimately a custard pie, and the reason why so large a proportion of jokes centre round obscenity is simply that all societies, as the price of survival, have to insist on a fairly high standard of sexual morality. A dirty joke is not, of course, a serious attack upon morality, but it is a sort of mental rebellion, a momentary wish that things were otherwise. So also with all other jokes, which always centre round cowardice, laziness, dishonesty or some other quality which society cannot afford to encourage. Society has always to demand a little more from human beings than it will get in practice. It has to demand faultless discipline and self-sacrifice, it must expect its subjects to work hard, pay their taxes, and be faithful to their wives, it must assume that men think it glorious to die on the battlefield and women want to wear themselves out with child-bearing. The whole of what one may call official literature is founded on such assumptions. I never read the proclamations of generals before battle, the speeches of Fuhrers and prime ministers, the solidarity songs of public schools and left-wing political parties, national anthems, Temperance tracts, papal encyclicals and sermons against gambling and contraception, without seeming to hear in the background a chorus of raspberries from all the millions of common men to whom these high sentiments make no appeal. Nevertheless the high sentiments always win in the end, leaders who offer blood, toil, tears and sweat always get more out of their followers than those who offer safety and a good time. When it comes to the pinch, human beings are heroic. Women face childbed and the scrubbing brush, revolutionaries keep their mouths shut in the torture chamber, battleships go down with their guns still firing when their decks are awash. It is only that the other element in man, the lazy, cowardly, debt-bilking adulterer who is inside all of us, can never be suppressed altogether and needs a hearing occasionally.” – George Orwell, “The Art of Donald McGill”

A policeman knew my name

“The Don Quixote-Sancho Panza combination, which of course is simply the ancient dualism of body and soul in fiction form, recurs more frequently in the literature of the last four hundred years than can be explained by mere imitation. It comes up again and again, in endless variations, Bouvard and Pecuchet, Jeeves and Wooster, Bloom and Dedalus, Holmes and Watson (the Holmes-Watson variant is an exceptionally subtle one, because the usual physical characteristics of two partners have been transposed). Evidently it corresponds to something enduring in our civilization, not in the sense that either character is to be found in a ‘pure’ state in real life, but in the sense that the two principles, noble folly and base wisdom, exist side by side in nearly every human being. If you look into your own mind, which are you, Don Quixote or Sancho Panza? Almost certainly you are both. There is one part of you that wishes to be a hero or a saint, but another part of you is a little fat man who sees very clearly the advantages of staying alive with a whole skin. He is your unofficial self, the voice of the belly protesting against the soul. His tastes lie towards safety, soft beds, no work, pots of beer and women with ‘voluptuous’ figures. He it is who punctures your fine attitudes and urges you to look after Number One, to be unfaithful to your wife, to bilk your debts, and so on and so forth. Whether you allow yourself to be influenced by him is a different question. But it is simply a lie to say that he is not part of you, just as it is a lie to say that Don Quixote is not part of you either, though most of what is said and written consists of one lie or the other, usually the first.” – George Orwell, “The Art of Donald McGill”

Not with a whimper

“It may be that we are doomed, that there is no hope for us, any of us, but if that is so then let us set up a last agonizing, blood-curdling howl, a screech of defiance, a war-whoop! Away with lamentations! Away with elegies and dirges! Away with biographies and histories, and libraries and museums! Let the dead eat the dead. Let us living ones dance about the rim of the crater, a last expiring dance. But a dance!” – Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer (emphasis in original)

They’re not from around here

“Side by side with the human race there runs another race of beings, the inhuman ones, the race of artists who, goaded by unknown impulses, take the lifeless mass of humanity and by the fever and ferment with which they imbue it turn this soggy dough into bread and the bread into wine and the wine into song.” – Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer

Setting the record straight

“The earth is not an arid plateau of health and comfort, but a great sprawling female with velvet torso that swells and heaves with ocean billows; she squirms beneath a diadem of sweat and anguish. Naked and sexed she rolls among the clouds in the violet light of the stars. All of her, from her generous breasts to her gleaming thighs, blazes with furious ardor. She moves amongst the seasons and the years with a grand whoop-la that seizes the torso with paroxysmal fury, that shakes the cobwebs out of the sky; she subsides on her pivotal orbits with volcanic tremors. She is like a doe at times, a doe that has fallen into a snare and lies waiting with beating heart for the cymbals to crash and the dogs to bark. Love and hate, despair, pity, rage, disgust—what are these amidst the fornications of the planets? What is war, disease, cruelty, terror, when night presents the ecstasy of myriad blazing suns? What is this chaff we chew in our sleep if it is not the remembrance of fang-whorl and star cluster?” – Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer

The body politic

“If there were a man who dared to say all that he thought of this world there would not be left him a square foot of ground to stand on. When a man appears the world bears down on him and breaks his back. There are always too many rotten pillars left standing, too much festering humanity for man to bloom. The superstructure is a lie and the foundation is a huge quaking fear.” – Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer