Sunday, February 22, 2015

Pigeonholes of Universal Views

“Beware: we know that critics’ spite,
a boomerang, comes back to bite.”   

Industry insiders could probably make several lists of twenty-four secrets or misunderstood facts or contentious minutiae about publishing, but here's a good list on the writing life from Curtis Sittenfeld. I like this one most:  10. The goal is not to be a media darling; the goal is to have a career.

A white male writer is a writer. The rest are pigeonholed: female writer, black writer, African writer. But literature is a way to seek universality Media Dragon Imitation Games

“The wheels of fortune surely turn;
your book may be the next to burn.”

“Love shook my senses, / Like wind crashing on the mountain oaks.” Taylor Swift? No, Sappho. The love song is a timeless form Agape

Unless your site is about one thing, it’s about everything Fredrik DeBoer. “For a website, or a publication, or a magazine, or a natively advertising content vertical, there is no such thing as a sensibility.” Translation: Blogging is not dead.

A person of average intelligence today would have been exceptionally intelligent a century ago. We're getting smarter. Are we getting more moral?... 
The OED defines “the black ox” not as depression but as “adversity, hardship, misfortune; the cares of life.” A black dog might tear our flesh. A black ox may trod on our foot and gore us. Ben Jonson writes in A Tale of a Tub (1633), though not of Larkin or Murray: “The black Oxe never trod yet O your foot.” 
 Are we wiser?

Oliver Sacks has months to live. There is no longer time for anything inessential – just himself, his work, his friends. 
“In my depravity, I have even been known to savor the smell of beer from a workman’s tavern at eight o’clock in the morning and the smell of a crowded movie house (hot buttered popcorn, mostly) at eight o’clock at night. And I am curiously moved by that old (and doubtless deleterious) city smell of soft-coal smoke bellying upward from apartment buildings on a snowy morning.” 
And some silliness

What the story of one dead man pulled through the snow by another man says about history, historical fiction, and the human imagination... Coldest Stories

A writer at The Economist pulls off a sort of Oulipian stunt, except this one has a point. “Out with the Long” is devoted to the virtues of one-syllable words and is written exclusively in monosyllables. After a few sentences, the cadence plods along like a spavined nag, but the author knows what he is doing: 

“I started looking into whether lead degrades in water, trying to find out why fisherman use lead weights and researching the composition of lead type, as I didn’t really know anything about the chemistry of it and wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to start looking for something that had rotted away.”
~ Recovering A Lost Typeface From Its Watery Grave Creative Review (UK)  

The next installment in NY Mag's series of horrifying interviews from which you can't look away: you've seen it, you've felt deeply unsettled by it, you've proclaimed its deeply unsettling nature to all of the people you gchat: "What It's Like to Date Your Dad"

Unusual “review” of 50 Shades of Grey

“The point is that to get a range of step, stride and gait means you have to use some long words, some short and some, well, just run of the mill, those whose place is in the mid range. What’s more, though you may find you can write with just short words for a while, in the end don’t you have to give in and reach for one of those terms which, like it or not, is made up of bits, more bits and yet more bits, and that adds up to a word which is long?”