In my continuing quest to make rules to
ignore apply to myself, here’s another one:
I read two books this week. Their names don’t matter much. I liked them both. They had me “turning pages”. But both had what I’ll call critique problems.
A critique group’s job is to find faults, but not all faults need to be corrected, nor can all faults be corrected. A critique problem is that thing your critique group would suggest changing, but shouldn’t be changed because doing so would grossly alter your vision of the story. Perfection shouldn’t be your goal. Your best and the space beyond it are your target. If you have control of your material and are achieving a certain effect and if following the advice of a critique would have you alter so much that that effect would be lost then ignore the critique.
This has been my second writing post. Chuseok pictures to follow.
What He Said
Here’s something I’ve been thinking about said better than I could. It’s from Gord Sellar’s blog and deals with “Industrialization of Culture”. And while Gord’s speaking in terms of k-pop and girl groups, he mentions it being a wider trend:
I suspect it reflects (or caters to) some unsettling, unconscious desire new to consumerist culture for everything in the world — food, clothing, weather, scenery, sex partners, everything — to be subjected to the same process of standardization that so much of the stuff of our lives already has been. We can see examples of this elsewhere: the baffling (to me) desire to see bands play live, while expecting them to perform their songs exactly as recorded in the studio is one example. (I was shocked to discover this expected of me — indeed, encouraged by fellow musicians — when I played in a rock band.) The interest in foods that are consistent in a number of ways — hence the success of, and trust placed in, fast foods by travelers in distant lands. The experience of the international hotel, the boring coonsistency of the megabrew lager beer. All of these seem to be expectations possible only in a post-cultural, or rather consumer-cultural society.
One of the worst things about consumerism is that it gets a decade or two head start over our capacity to critique it. Actually that might be the worst thing.
Boast of Quietness
Writings of light assault the darkness, more prodigious than meteors.
The tall unknowable city takes over the countryside.
Sure of my life and death, I observe the ambitious and would like to
Their day is greedy as a lariat in the air.
Their night is a rest from the rage within steel, quick to attack.
They speak of humanity.
My humanity is in feeling we are all voices of that same poverty.
They speak of homeland.
My homeland is the rhythm of a guitar, a few portraits, an old sword,
the willow grove’s visible prayer as evening falls.
Time is living me.
More silent than my shadow, I pass through the loftily covetous multitude.
They are indispensable, singular, worthy of tomorrow.
My name is someone and anyone.
I walk slowly, like one who comes from so far away he doesn’t expect to
– Jorge Luis Borges
(translation Stephen Kessler)
Thanks to Saladin Ahmed for sending this my way.
“Consider the nature of a city. It is a vast repository of time, the discarded times of all the men and women who have lived, worked, dreamed and died in the streets which grow like a willfully organic thing, unfurl like petals of a mired rose and yet lack evanescence so entirely that they preserve the past in haphazard layers, so this alley is old while the avenue that runs beside it is newly built but nevertheless has been built over the deep-down, dead-in-the-ground relics of the older, perhaps the original, huddle of alleys which germinated the entire quarter.”
– Angela Carter, The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman
Edgar Pangborn’s “The Singing Stick”
I reread Edgar Pangborn’s “The Singing Stick” this morning. It’s a caveman detective story initially published in 1952 by Ellery Queen Magazine.
“Beyond the river was the melancholy green, almost blackness of advancing pine forest. Ambling naked from his cave into afternoon sunshine, Gnar-of-the-Long-Arms, the Old Man, the leader of the tribe, gazed across the valley. Trouble would come; when it came, the pines would know.
The pines were kindred to the Not-Men they sheltered — bear, wolf, snake; kin to the black leopard who five winters ago had writhed past Samar’s spear when that Old Man’s foot had slipped, giving Gnar leadership of the tribe. The pines knew.”
What I love is the way Pangborn plays it straight. He uses the tropes of a Chandler-esque Private Investigator story without resorting to too many of the cliches.
Now if only I could find a copy of his novel Davy.
Jan Morris in Ridlerville
An interesting piece on Jan Morris and her struggles with academia over at Ridlerville.
She took a lot of heat for becoming who she really was, despite being a war veteran, amazing historian and journalist, and wonderful writer. Rumours abounded that positions of influence in universities were denied Morris because of her journey from one gender to the other, that her life as a travel writer was in part a result of these challenges.