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The Art of Tetman Callis Posts

Plugging in

“A story is a serving of palpated verbal material with feelings surging through it, and not just some caboodle of data about fabricated people and their antics.  If a reader is asked again and again to travel the distance between a capital letter and a period, every sentence ought to have been routed through the writer’s nervous system and acquired charged particles of language along the way.  A sentence ought to be offering a vista of the infinite.” – Gary Lutz (from Dylan Nice interview in Wag’s Revue)

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Out of plasmids are paragraphs made

“Once the words begin to settle into their circumstance in a sentence and decide to make the most of their predicament, they look around and take notice of their neighbors. They seek out affinities, they adapt to each other, they begin to make adjustments in their appearance to try to blend in with each other better and enhance any resemblance. Pretty soon in the writer’s eyes the words in the sentence are all vibrating and destabilizing themselves: no longer solid and immutable, they start to flutter this way and that in playful receptivity, taking into themselves parts of neighboring words, or shedding parts of themselves into the gutter of the page or screen; and in this process of intimate mutation and transformation, the words swap alphabetary vitals and viscera, tiny bits and dabs of their languagey inner and outer natures; the words intermingle and blend and smear and recompose themselves. They begin to take on a similar typographical physique. The phrasing now feels literally all of a piece. The lonely space of the sentence feels colonized. There’s a sumptuousness, a roundedness, a dimensionality to what has emerged. The sentence feels filled in from end to end; there are no vacant segments along its length, no pockets of unperforming or underperforming verbal matter. The words of the sentence have in fact formed a united community.” – Gary Lutz, “The Sentence Is a Lonely Place”

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Inhabitated is what the man said

“The sentence, with its narrow typographical confines, is a lonely place, the loneliest place for a writer, and the temptation for the writer to get out of one sentence as soon as possible and get going on the next sentence is entirely understandable. In fact, the conditions in just about any sentence soon enough become (shall we admit it?) claustrophobic, inhospitable, even hellish. But too often our habitual and hasty breaking away from one sentence to another results in sentences that remain undeveloped parcels of literary real estate, sentences that do not feel fully inhabitated and settled in by language.” – Gary Lutz, “The Sentence Is a Lonely Place”

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You may rather be in Philadelphia

“I have read descriptions of Paradise which would make any sensible person stop wanting to go there: according to some, the spirits of the blessed spend all their time playing the flute; others sentence them to walk about for ever; others again claim that while up there they dream about their mistresses down here, considering that a hundred million years is not too long for them to lose their taste for being love-sick.” – Montesquieu, “Letter 125,” Persian Letters (trans. Betts)

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The unreasoned reason

“The urge to greet every answer with another question is one we find in children not because it’s childish but because it’s natural.  Once you begin the search for knowledge, there is no obvious place to stop.  The fact that the desire for omniscience cannot be met does not make it either foolish or pathological.  Indeed, it is embodied in the principle of sufficient reason itself.  The principle of sufficient reason expresses the belief that we can find a reason for everything the world presents.  It is not an idea that we derive from the world, but one that we bring to it.” – Susan Neiman, Evil in Modern Thought

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What if I plug this into that…?

“Recognizing one’s limits seems a form of fair trade: if we withdraw some of our claims on the world, surely those remaining will be met.  Yet the wish to determine the world can’t be coherently limited, for you cannot know which event will turn out to be not just another event, but one that will change your life.” – Susan Neiman, Evil in Modern Thought

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You gotta scream without raising your voice

Rarely do I get personal on this website.  Maybe a little in responding to the comments (which are almost exclusively from Averil Dean), but not out here on the main floor.  The past few months have been a time of significant transition for me, which I don’t expect to mean jack to anyone else, but which I will use as an excuse to acknowledge by posting this:

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E pluribus unum, people

“If Americans seriously want the United States to continue to exist in something like its current form, they had best respect the fundamental tenets of our unlikely union.  It cannot survive if we end the separation of church and state or institute the Baptist equivalent of Sharia law.  We won’t hold together if presidents appoint political ideologues to the Justice Department or the Supreme Court of the United States, or if party loyalists try to win elections by trying to stop people from voting rather than winning them over with their ideas.  The union can’t function if national coalitions continue to use House and Senate rules to prevent important issues from being debated in the open because members know their positions wouldn’t withstand public scrutiny.  Other sovereign democratic states have central governments more corrupted than our own, but most can fall back on unifying elements we lack: common ethnicity, a shared religion, or near-universal consensus on many fundamental political issues.  The United States needs its central government to function cleanly, openly, and efficiently because it’s one of the few things binding us together.” – Colin Woodard, American Nations

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No, he’s not talking about Facebook

“Everywhere I see people who talk continually about themselves.  Their conversation is a mirror which always shows their own conceited faces.  They will talk to you about the tiniest events in their lives, which they expect to be magnified in your eyes by the interest that they themselves take in them.” – Montesquieu, “Letter 50,” Persian Letters (trans. Betts)

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Hindbrain to the forefront

“Nothing is more depressing than consolations based on the necessity of evil, the uselessness of remedies, the inevitability of fate, the order of Providence, or the misery of the human condition.  It is ridiculous to try to alleviate misfortune by observing that we are born to be miserable.  It is much better to prevent the mind from indulging in such reflections, and to treat men as emotional beings, instead of treating them as rational.” – Montesquieu, “Letter 33,” Persian Letters (trans. Betts)

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