What is left of all of it?
Blind hoboes sell American flags
And bad poems of patriotism
On Saturday evenings forever in the rain,
Between the cathouses and the slag heaps
And the river, down home.
Oh Jesus Christ, the Czechoslovakians
Are drunk again, clambering
Down the sand-pitted walls
Of the grave.
Lying is universal – we all do it. Therefore, the wise thing is for us diligently to train ourselves to lie thoughtfully, judiciously; to lie with a good object, and not an evil one; to lie for others’ advantage, and not our own; to lie healingly, charitably, humanely, not cruelly, hurtfully, maliciously; to lie gracefully and graciously, not awkwardly and clumsily; to lie firmly, frankly, squarely, with head erect, not haltingly, tortuously, with pusillanimous mien, as being ashamed of our high calling.
In an essay titled “What We Talk About When We Talk About Flow,” David Jauss coined (I believe) the term “rhythmic mimesis,” which pretty much describes everything I love about language. And guitars. And Steve Earle.
Delete the word “risen” from the translation, and one of the most beautiful examples of this, in the English language, is Isaiah 60:1 (King James Version):
Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
Think about it. Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is upon thee. You can’t repeat that three times without stomping your foot and hearing a blues rhythm. It’s impossible.
For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people:
but the Lord shall arise upon thee,
and his glory shall be seen upon thee.
Seriously. It’s even got a built-in hook. Why hasn’t some rapper just recorded passages from the Bible with an organ and a church choir snapping their fingers? Call me, Kanye. I want my name on that Grammy.
“I just wish you would express your feelings more,” your girlfriend says. “I never know what you’re thinking.” You drink your drink. If only your girlfriend knew what you were thinking. Your thoughts are so brutal and true that they would scare her witless. She would die. And even through the buffer of this short story, female readers are probably becoming barren just by encountering the power of your thoughts, right at this minute, right now.
…ha. haha. hahahahahaha.
Here’s a post guaranteed to make an MFA student laugh, though only in a very nervous, shifty-eyed way.
I had rather be shut up in a very modest cottage with my books, my family and a few old friends, dining on simple bacon, and letting the world roll on as it liked, than to occupy the most splendid post, which any human power can give.
I imagine the cove in darkness. I imagine it in a storm. I imagine it in 30 years. “You’ve pre-haunted it,” I tell him.
…from this brilliant Vulture article on David Mitchell‘s new book, The Bone Clocks. The article itself is beautiful, and I’m nine tenths of the way to convincing myself to slag off reading assignments next week and jump into this novel the second it goes on sale.
Yes, I’m aware this is two posts in a row referencing DM. And why shouldn’t it be? Dude’s work has more depth than the Bible.
Murakami realizes that the night bird of the human heart is filled with so much mystery that you really don’t need to drum up more of it with allusions and indirection.
…from this Salon article by the lovely Laura Miller, about Murakami’s new book which I, oddly enough, have yet to pre-order. Great article for my fellow Murakami homers about why his work elicits such varied responses in the states.
As I have tried to show, modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug.
…not all that different from modern sex, huh?
I’ll take grade school dropout writing passionately in his prison cell over some empty, superior Yale MFA any day.
Write all the time, they’ll tell you. Write for your college newspaper. Get an MFA. Go to writer’s groups. Send query letters to agents.
What do they never say? Go do interesting things.
So this MaLa Literary Journal is an interesting piece of work. Based in Chengdu, it’s published a lot of fantastic work by Asia-based authors, as well as hip cats like National Book Award winner Colum McCann, multi-NY Times Best Seller and Grammy winner David Sedaris, Man Asia Literary Prize nominee Murong Xuecun, and National Book Award nominee and MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient Peter Hessler.
Check it out if you feel like purchasing the latest issue and supporting them ol’ literary arts’es.
I will put my shapeless days behind me,
fencing off the past, as a golden rind
of sand parts slipshod sea from solid land.
…a golden rind of sand parts slipshod sea from solid land.
Say that out loud.
By defining books as against technology, we deny our true selves, we deny the power of the book. Let’s restore to publishing its true reputation—not as a hedge against the future, not as a bulwark against radical change, not as a citadel amidst the barbarians, but rather as the future at hand, as the radical agent of change, as the barbarian.
This article makes me happy.
But the most amazing part of the story is how open these teachers were to change. Because their jobs were on the line? Likely. Either way, this article highlights what I think is the biggest problem with education in America: our teachers are idiots. We’d be better off with robot teachers, stacks of books, and weekly visits from Proctors of Common Sense.
As long as I live under the capitalistic system, I expect to have my life influenced by the demands of moneyed people. But I will be damned if I propose to be at the beck and call of every itinerant scoundrel who has two cents to invest in a postage stamp.
This, sir, is my resignation.
(Signed by Faulkner)
It’s pretty fantastic how all novelists describe the publishing process in exactly the same way. And pretty frightening how depressed they all are about it.
Check out what it’s like in high-larious GIF form.
And there’s only one thing to do. Start the whole thing over again.
…a girl who reads possesses a vocabulary that can describe that amorphous discontent as a life unfulfilled—a vocabulary that parses the innate beauty of the world and makes it an accessible necessity instead of an alien wonder. A girl who reads lays claim to a vocabulary that distinguishes between the specious and soulless rhetoric of someone who cannot love her, and the inarticulate desperation of someone who loves her too much. A vocabulary, god damnit, that makes my vacuous sophistry a cheap trick.
As of yesterday, there have been only two books that I’ve read, cover to cover, in under twenty four hours.
The highlight from my recent guest lecture on 20th century literature at a fancy institute of book learnin’ here in South China:
Student #1: Hemingway talk about facing the struggle, like Confusing.
S#1: Yes, Confusing.
Me: Not as much as me.
S#1: Ummm…maybe you don’t know China history.
So I’m not the only writer in the family. Just the only unsuccessful one. My older brother, one of only three people in the world who’s taste in books and film I trust implicitly, has this wildly successful Cincinnati Reds blog over at www.RedlegNation.com, and just yesterday made his debut for ESPN.com. Check out all of his new posts:
Oh, and he’s a judge. And has been published in fifty billion magazines. And that makes me feel quite lazy. Go Redlegs.