1. "Thought is not something that comes immediately and automatically to us.  Rather, it is the result of an encounter and it requires a genesis." 

    "In the third chapter of Difference and Repetition, Deleuze argues that we never think voluntarily or at will, but we only think under the force of what he calls a sentiendum or encounter that forces us to think… An encounter forces thought, upsetting the habits and sedimentations that populate our mind, allowing something new to emerge."

    "Interrupting and startling aren’t to be valued for their own sake as absolutes.  If there’s a value to interruption, being startled, and stuttering, if there’s a value to vividness, then this is because it engenders thought within thought and opens the possibility of critique.  In Against Method, Feyerabend talks about how it is indispensable for thought to create an alternative universe with crazy and mad laws so as to see this universe.  We’re unable to see anything if we don’t do such a thing because our world is so saturated with habit and the obvious that it’s invisible to us."

    -from the blog post Remarks Towards a Theory of Writing by Levi R. Bryant

  2. (Source: mesogeios)

  3. "I read with a pencil. I’m a big note-taker, an under-liner, a silent applause giver; not as in, ‘Well put’ but ‘oh, thank you!’."

    "the blind enthusiasm responsible for such sloppy comparisons is precisely the joy of reading, that private ineffable joy of apprehending that which was, let’s just say, effable to someone else." 

    -from ‘Professional Me’ by Frances Stark, Collected Writing: 1993–2003. London: Opus 3/Book Works, 2003.

  4. We are often told that privacy is disappearing, that the most intimate secrets are open to public probing. But the reality is the opposite: what is effectively disappearing is public space, with its attendant dignity.
  5. Aesthetic enthusiasm: perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story. Desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable and ought not to be missed. The aesthetic motive is very feeble in a lot of writers, but even a pamphleteer or writer of textbooks will have pet words and phrases which appeal to him for non-utilitarian reasons; or he may feel strongly about typography, width of margins, etc. Above the level of a railway guide, no book is quite free from aesthetic considerations.
    — George Orwell, in his essay “Why I Write” (via englishprof)
  6. If you wrote from experience, you’d get maybe one book, maybe three poems. Writers write from empathy.
    — Nikki Giovanni (via teachingliteracy)

    (Source: verbalizeyourheart)

  7. (image source)

    Jill Bennett writes in Empathic Vision: Affect, Trauma, and Contemporary Art that “It is always easy for art and for audiences of art to take the moral line - to feel sympathy and compassion, to use art to confirm us in our humanitarian role”, then warns us “that identifications are not always the result of moral choices. And more than this, that there is an ethical imperative to think beyond the moral role, because as Nietzsche puts it: “[People] confound themselves with their role; they become victims of their own ‘good performance’; they themselves have forgotten how much accidents, moods, and caprice disposed of them when the question of their ‘vocation’ was decided - and how many other roles they might have been able to play; for now it is too late…the role has actually become character; and art, nature.”

    (More info on Jill Bennett)

  8. When professional writers, especially ones trained in the literary arts, see horrifically bad writing online, they recoil. All their training about the value of diverse (or, you know, heteroglossic) societies and the equality of classes goes flying out the window. Social media acts as a kind of truth serum, as Marshall Kirkpatrick likes to say: This is how the masses of people talk. This is how the masses of people write. Not moonlighting bloggers. Not the 20 million NPR listeners. But the other 300 million people trying to LOL their way through boring days at office jobs or in Iraq.

    Literary Writers and Social Media: A Response to Zadie Smith - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic (via anxiaostudio)

    More great excerpts from this essay:

    "To put it more bluntly, as one of my Twitter followers, Brian Frank, wrote, "I think what Smith, Lanier don’t appreciate is humans will always find new ways to stay human—not be passively ‘reduced.’"

    "And I expected, mostly, that Smith would get that. Her wonderful book, The Autograph Man, was a testament to our ability to make deep meaning — to make lives — out of any pursuit or dataset. But she doesn’t see Facebook as capable of being a meaningful part of a life. And I’m really trying hard to comprehend why. I’ve come up with three reasons that I think may explain more generally why big-name writers so often seem appalled by that which hundreds of millions adore."

    "To put a finer point on it: I would just ask, is Facebook the engine of homogenization? Do we live in an era where everyone reads, watches, and listens to the same things? Of course not! We live in the time of the hyperniche. All this liking and information spreading has led us to build more paths that are all less taken."

    "Smith is a public figure, and public figures’ Internet presences are not private. That clashes deeply with her sense of what people should be, or at least who she is." 

    "We all bring the history of our bodies and the habits of our minds to Facebook. Because it is, fundamentally, about people relating to one another. While some things can be shaped by the tool itself, by the software, others are burned in by the much longer game of being alive in the world."

  9. Amazing George Saunders Interview at BOMBlog! Read part 1 and part 2

    Excerpts from part 1:

    "I suppose what we’re really trying to develop is the ability to see, at a given moment in a story (stuck there, sick of our own prose, blinded to it by the hours we’ve already spent), all the inherent possibilities, and then choose the one that is most… something. I would tend to say: the one that is most uncommon, i.e., the one that would take the most time/energy/acuity of vision to come up with—the one that is farthest down the trail, so to speak. But I suppose that’s what distinguishes one writer from another: how he/she might complete that sentence: Choose the one that is most (??)."

    "What do you think the impulse is for you to create and then give it away? And do you ever question that source or that story or line that strikes you at any given time?"

    "As far as “considering the reader”—I’m sure it’s different for every writer. But for me, yes, I am always considering the reader. Although this is admittedly kind of odd: Which reader? On what day? In what mood? For me, that “reader” is actually just me, if I had never read the story before. That is, I’m trying to read/edit as if I have no existing knowledge of the story, no investment in it, no sense of what Herculean effort went into writing page 23, no pretensions as to why the dull patch on page 4 is important for the fireworks that will happen on page 714. I’m essentially just trying to impersonate a first-time reader, who picks up the story and has to decide, at every point, whether to keep going."

    "I have come to see not knowing too much as an advantage, not only in writing but in teaching."

    "one of the challenges of the writing life is to find new things to say and/or new ways to say them. And this is a paradox, because when you write your first book, you actually carve out a great deal of what you’ll end up working with for the rest of your life. And you come to it (or I did, anyway) with this sense of stumbling on a virgin landscape: it’s all new to you. You didn’t know you could sound that way and, having discovered a new way of sounding, there’s suddenly all this new material available to you, i.e., the new voice enabled, or even brought into being, all this stuff that previously you would have felt was sub-literary, or would just have been invisible to you as material. So that’s genuinely exciting. But then there’s the next 60 years to get through (!). A more mundane way of saying it: in your early work, if you’re going deep, you discover your themes, your voice, your (ugh) “concerns.” And if you did it right, you sort of plumbed your own psyche in this very intense way, and there’s no turning back. You made a legit discovery about who you are, and about what things you can do well, and the things you can’t, and maybe about your fundamental relation to the world, about what things you can make come alive, about (maybe most importantly of all) the way your mind works—its pre-inclinations, habits, prejudices, inexplicable fascinations."

    "Now, the hope would be that you’d have this virgin-landscape feeling for every book, but I’m not sure that’s the way the brain is set up. We’d have to see the further books as deeper and more specific forays into that same landscape—so this model suggests, depressingly enough, a gradually shrinking field of play for the writer—a room which is getting smaller and smaller—sort of like that garbage dump scene in Star Wars. My experience of writing is that I had to work very hard to discover a tiny little wedge of talent, and almost immediately became aware that there were certain things I just couldn’t do. So then the challenge became something like: get through the rest of my life while running back and forth on that little wedge of talent, without blatantly repeating myself. (While periodically trying, again, to do those things “I just couldn’t do,” to make sure I still couldn’t do them, just in case). For me, that has meant working pretty slowly, doing a ton of revision, only producing one or two stories a year, walking this fine line between becoming so OCD that I blocked right up vs. writing nice and loose but then producing stuff that wasn’t sufficiently original and had to be thrown away. But, maybe paradoxically, I’m also finding that this tiny wedge o’ talent, or gradually shrinking Star Wars garbage dump (or now I’ll shift metaphors and call it a “ledge of talent”—a ledge which is, let’s say, usually thinning/crumbling away, because much of what you feel inclined to do, you’ve already done) to be a deliriously interesting place to be. Much more interesting then, say, being granted an entirely new mind, and being allowed to write “another” first book."


    Writing is funny. It’s kind of like “farming by Escher.” You can put down perfect seeds, in just the right way, in great weather, and get nothing (i.e., you can have all the time in the world, do a gazillion drafts, and …blah.) Or you can be messing around one day and a seed falls out of your pocket and something really interesting and new grows.

    —George Saunders. Read more from Saunders’ interview with Patrick Dacey on BOMBlog.

  10. This is not to say that love is only about fighting. Love is about bottomless empathy, born out of the heart’s revelation that another person is every bit as real as you are. And this is why love, as I understand it, is always specific. Trying to love all of humanity may be a worthy endeavor, but, in a funny way, it keeps the focus on the self, on the self’s own moral or spiritual well-being. Whereas, to love a specific person, and to identify with his or her struggles and joys as if they were your own, you have to surrender some of your self.
  11. what facebook is good at (names removed for piracy, er privacy):

    "Turkey in the Straw" is stuck in my head. And not just any version; the ice cream truck version. And now it’s in your head, too. You’re welcome.

    Tuesday at 9:21pm · Unlike · 

    You and 2 others like this.

    Your ice cream truck guy’s truck plays Turkey In The Straw?

    May 22 at 11:24pm · Like

    Yup. Actually, I don’t think it’s the ice cream truck, I think it’s your knife-sharpening friend. Which, now that I think about it, is a slightly macabre, Sweeney Todd sort of juxtaposition…

    May 22 at 11:32pm · Like

    Try The Entertainer. The ice cream truck version. Worse.

    Monday at 1:35am · Like

    Ouch, The Entertainer, agreed. Where is my The Crow soundtrack, I need to purge a tune now!

    Monday at 1:38am · Like

    Playing the Cure of course!

    Monday at 1:38am · Like

    I don’t know, “Close To Me” sort of sounds like it could have come off an ice cream truck… albeit a funky one.

    Monday at 10:33am · Like

    Did someone say ‘serial killer’?

    Monday at 4:08pm · Like

    I won a gold metal at the Royal Conservatory of Music when I was 8 years old. I played “Turkey in the Straw” on piano. The girl who lost to me cried and her parents yelled at her. It was sad. I was sad.

    Tuesday at 1:33am · Like

    I found myself singing this song while cooking dinner tonight, I blame you.

    Tuesday at 8:37pm · Like

    Nice. I’ll bet my little anecdote compelled you to cook with freshly sharpened knives, though.

    Tuesday at 9:21pm · Like

    double scoop of hate please

    Tuesday at 9:39pm · Like ·  1 person

    Luckily I don’t know “turkey in the straw.” I would welcome a replacement to the teletubbies theme music at this point.

    23 hours ago · Like

    Yeah, you know it, you maybe just don’t know it as that. “Do your ears hang low” is the same tune.

    23 hours ago · Like

    my brain is mixing turkey with farmer in the dell, it works well though.


    June Stein: I want to ask you about the relationship between acting and directing, knowing that it’s very tricky to articulate what that is. It’s like trying to talk about sex. You can talk about it till you’re blue in the face, but you gotta do it to get it.

    Philip Seymour Hoffman: I was with a writer the other day, who was saying that you can’t really talk about what you do. I disagree with him. What ultimately happens is something mysterious, that you can’t say. But you can talk about how you approach what that mysterious something is, how you try to get at that thing that you really can’t say.

    —BOMB 103, Spring 2008

    via bombmagazine.tumblr

  13. Related to a post I have in storage on a love of blogging and writing; the two things together make one accountable for what they write; two found quotes:

    on facebook:

    "creativity is forever procrastinated as it’s nickeled and dimed to death eeking itself out in status updates and blurbs instead of being channeled into carefully crafted prose"

    from larval subjects:

    "Distributed cognition enriches thought with perpetual contingency, surmounting the solipsism of thought as it takes place in writing and the brain, exposing thought to the endless hazard of an alterity that sets it unfolding along unexpected vectors of becoming. In this regard, authorship becomes something different. Authorship no longer refers to the intentions animating a particular brain-body, but rather refers to a topo-geographical site where a number of elements or entities are gathered together"

  14. I just finished watching Martin Scorsese’s documentary “Public Speaking” on Fran Lebowitz. I can’t help but love it when she says: “I’m always right because I’m never fair”, and how wit is cold, judgmental, not warm, and so is not loved as much or at all or in the same way. “I’m not very often nasty to people’s faces. I believe in talking behind people’s backs. That way they hear it more than once.” She says she’s never afraid of public speaking because she reserves all her fear for writing.

    Other particularly wonderful quotes from other sources:

    "Humility is no substitute for a good personality."

    "The most common error made in matters of appearance is the belief that one should disdain the superficial and let the true beauty of one’s soul shine through. If there are places on your body where this is a possibility, you are not attractive — you are leaking."

    "I love sleep because it is both pleasant and safe to use. Pleasant because one is in the best possible company and safe because sleep is the consummate protection against the unseemliness that is the invariable consequence of being awake. What you don’t know won’t hurt you. Sleep is death without the responsibility."
    "The word “dream” has replaced every other word practically. You hear people say to kids, “just go for your dream.” But that’s a lie and it’s stupid. What is a dream? A dream is a fantasy. To encourage a world based on fantasy is idiotic. Here’s a word that should be only used for people who fall asleep"

    "the theater itself is so archaic and old fashioned, that it doesn’t really matter to me whether it’s on Avenue D or at the Helen Hayes Theater. What’s the difference? It’s still a very nostalgic form. Also, it means you’re knowingly walking into a room where there’s actors. I feel it’s very embarrassing. Because, you know, they’re right there. You always think like, they can see you, and I think it’s mortifying, frankly, and I hate to sit near the front, where you feel they actually might see you. It’s too … it’s too live."
    "You know, unfortunately, by the time you’re about 25 you realize you’ve pretty much met all the people you’re ever going to meet, by which I mean everyone you meet after that is some sort of variation on the theme. It would be as much of a test to find a unique person in life as it is to make one in a book."
    "I’m not a contrarian, I just know I’m right—there’s a difference. People have always thought that I write for effect, but I don’t. I write things because I believe them, and I say things because I believe them. I believe I am right and I would prefer everyone agree with me because then the world would be more to my liking. I’m never trying to provoke, I assure you."
    "I can absolutely promise you that I don’t remember any conversations about food when I was young. If you talk about that when you’re 20, what are you going to talk about when you’re 40 or 50? This is not the time to be thinking about restaurants."