I hope this doesn’t upset anyone, but I might be taking a little break from writing scenarios. I know I have to finish exposure, falling for jeon, and conflicted, but I’m really starting to fall behind on my school work. Like today, I realized that because I’ve missed two homework assignments and a quiz online in my calc class because I haven’t been checking the website like I’m supposed to. Like, when I get on the computer, I get this insane urge to finish writing scenarios instead of what I’m actually supposed to be doing (aka homework) because I don’t want to let any of you down by taking too long to update. But my grades are reflecting this neglect on school work and I think I need a reality check. So, I will still be WORKING on the scenarios in the spare time, but I don’t want to feel the weighing pressure that I have to update constantly. I’m going to step back from tumblr for a bit. I will still be reblogging and talking to you guys when you message me or ask me something, and I will try to work on scenarios as much as possible, okay?
Stories are compasses and architecture; we navigate by them, we build our sanctuaries and our prisons out of them, and to be without a story is to be lost in the vastness of a world that spreads in all directions like arctic tundra or sea ice. To love someone is to put yourself in their place, we say, which is to put yourself in their story, or to figure out how to tell their story. Which means that a place is a story, and stories are geography, and empathy is first of all an act of imagination, a storyteller’s art, and then a way of traveling from here to there.
If you ask yourself, ‘What’s the best thing that happened today?’ it actually forces a certain kind of cheerful retrospection that pulls up from the recent past things to write about that you wouldn’t otherwise think about. If you ask yourself, ‘What happened today?’ it’s very likely that you’re going to remember the worst thing, because you’ve had to deal with it—you’ve had to rush somewhere or somebody said something mean to you—that’s what you’re going to remember. But if you ask what the best thing is, it’s going to be some particular slant of light, or some wonderful expression somebody had, or some particularly delicious salad. I mean, you never know…
Old and new make the warp and woof of every moment. There is no thread that is not a twist of these two strands. By necessity, by proclivity and by delight, we all quote. It is as difficult to appropriate the thoughts of others as it is to invent.
Dixon was alive again. Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow, gracious wandering from the halls of sleep, but a summary, forcible ejection. He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider crab on the tarry shingle of the morning. The light did harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he’d somehow been on a cross-country run and then been beaten up by secret police. He felt bad.
There are those whose own vulgar normality is so apparent and stultifying that they strive to escape it. They affect flamboyant behavior and claim originality according to the fashionable eccentricities of their time. They claim brains or talent or indifference to mores in desperate attempts to deny their own mediocrity. These are frequently artists and performers, adventurers and wide-life devotees.
Then there are those who feel their own strangeness and are terrified by it. They struggle toward normalcy. They suffer to exactly that degree that they are unable to appear normal to others, or to convince themselves that their aberration does not exist. These are true freaks, who appear, almost always, conventional and dull.
Everything is invented. Language. Childhood. Careers. Relationships. Religion. Philosophy. The Future. They are not there for the plucking. They don’t exist in some natural state. They must be invented by people. And that, of course, is a great thing. Don’t mope in your room. Go invent something. That is the American message. Electricity. Flight. The telephone. Television. Computers. Walking on the moon. It never stops.
When you listen to early Black Sabbath, you know the main difference between them & you is that somebody bought them guitars and microphones. They’re not smarter than you; they’re not deeper than you; they’re a fuck of a lot richer than you, but other than that, it’s like listening to the inside of your own mind. So when they write songs, they sing about wizards. And witches. And robots.
I’m lying to myself, I thought. Had it really been so wonderful? I knew very well that at that time, too, there had been shame. And uneasiness, and humiliation, and disgust: accept, submit, force yourself. Is it possible that even happy moments of pleasure never stand up to a rigorous examination? Possible.
Devoured this on my recent trip home to Ohio. I underlined a lot of sentences. Here are a few:
If I were a real poet, I’d be composing a sonnet about the fairy mist in yon oak.
My mother taught me to seek external agents of transformation–pick a new town or man or job.
…humming through me like a third rail was poetry, the myth that if I could shuffle the right words into the right order, I could get my story straight, write myself into an existence that included the company of sacred misfit poets whose pages had kept me company as a kid. Showing up at a normal job was too hard.
Count yourself lucky, she said. You’re still promising until your first book’s out.
Where I come from, house guests have to know you’ve sweated over a stove, for sweat is how care is shown.
I’d spent way more years worrying about how to look like a poet–buying black clothes, smearing on scarlet lipstick, languidly draping myself over thrift-store furniture–than I had learning how to assemble words in some discernible order.
The whole city is so profoundly Caucasian.
Every asshole I know has published a book.
…a woman whose third eye has begun to stare at some invisible baby is incapable of dropping the subject.
He tells me the story of a writer who–on finding his own first book remaindered in a used bookstore–opened to the flyleaf only to discover his own signature about the note To Mum and Dad…
I get so lonely sometimes, I could put a box on my head and mail myself to a stranger.
How much smaller the large places are once we’re grown up, when we have car keys and credit cards.
“I am entirely selfish,” he said ruefully, “and always hoping that someone will tell me to behave, someone will make herself responsible for me and make me be grown-up.”
He is altogether selfish, she thought in some surprise, the only man I have ever sat and talked to alone, and I am impatient; he is simply not very interesting. “Why don’t you grow up by yourself?” she asked him, and wondered how many people—how many women—had already asked him that.
“You’re clever.” And how many times had he answered that way?
This conversation must be largely instinctive, she thought with amusement, and said gently, “You must be a very lonely person.” All I want is to be cherished, she thought, and here I am talking gibberish with a selfish man.
Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House. Eleanorrrrrrrrrr.
Starting to actually log what I’m reading. The small little notepad is what I right in first: in it I write down the date, pages read, words I don’t understand, and quick little summaries of important things I read. The big notebook is my actual reading log. In it I write the date, name of the book, the author, pages read, summary of what I read, thoughts on what I read, and then I define all the words I didn’t understand. I’m hoping that by doing this I’ll get more out of reading and also be inspired to read more as I have been in a bit of a reading slump.
I’m kicking this blog off with the most bare-bones explanation: I’m a Master of English, yet in the entire 8 year devotion to my field I’ve only just scraped the surface of all the world’s bounty of books, poems, novellas, hyper-text adventures, etc. etc. I’m devoting myself with new vigor to become even better-read than what I managed to be in the course of my intensive education.
My short-term goal is to read at least 100 books (new reads and long-ago re-reads) during the course of 2016. To kick things off and rev the momentum, I’m starting with the instagram #newyearsreadathon, which challenges any who take up the helm to:
As I complete these objectives, I’ll retreat back to this post to chart my progress; I’ll also log the remaining 95 books that I hope to read throughout the year (and beyond, should I happen to meet and exceed my goal.)
A few minutes after I gave this address, an audience member approached me privately and asked whether I was a Marxist. Surprised, I asked him why he thought I might be. He said it was because I had “reduced” the lofty subject of art to a mere question of labour. (Paraphrasing mine.)
To him I’d like to say, Mister, I am an artist who supports herself on the strength of her art and her ability to keep producing it. You’d be hard put to convince any artist that art isn’t work. And you can’t convince me that there’s no art to labour. You can’t convince me that art and the labour that creates it can be easily teased apart and considered as separate objects, and you sure as hell can’t convince me that the latter is somehow base and impoverished in comparison to the former.