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Creative

from FOOTNOTE 1 — “Minnie”

(The following is the Excerpt from The Twentieth Century Passes, a memoir of my father’s life)

By the time I was born, three of my grandparents were already dead. They had died young, in their early 60s, just before and after the birth of my sister ten years before me. My parents had had me, their third child, late for those days, my father at 42. The only grandparent my brother and I knew was Minnie, who had left Dad in infancy, as had her husband, Yoina, to travel to a new life in America. During my first decade, Minnie had already entered her 70s, but she looked, to a child, a hundred, and with her square, weathered face, the stocky block of her body, and her kerchiefed head, she could have been, during her frequent Sunday visits to our Queens Village garden apartment, any Babushka plucked the day before from a field in Podolia. And by then, she had been living in the United States for nearly fifty years.

We felt no love for Minnie. We had, the three of us, very early on some idea of what she had not been to our father, and it would have been otherwise, anyway, not easily accomplished, without some assistance, to turn from Howdy Doody and Captain Kangaroo to the peasantry under Czar Nicholas II. Minnie would arrive dutifully retrieved by my father, Mac, from her apartment off the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, to which he would return her, by car, at the end of the afternoon—two round trips of two-to-three hours each for every Sunday visit. Minnie would visit us along with her companion, Charlie, a large, round, gruff old American character with neatly parted and lacquered black hair and a fat cigar permanently chewed into the corner of his mouth. Imagine him beside Damon Runyon at a Jack Dempsey fight. Like everything else about the history of our family prior to our birth cries, we never got it entirely straight or clear from Mom, but apparently Charlie, who was some fair number of years younger than Minnie, was actually her first or second cousin, and her seduction of him away from a promising career (One must do uncounted mental crunches and endless stretching to imagine Minnie as seducer.) was a scandal in its day. Charlie was always friendly in his crusty way, but—he had, after all, shacked up with Minnie—also a being too foreign to contemplate for the suburban-ized children of Eisenhower’s America.

Minnie was odd and distant and vastly inappropriate. On every visit, we would be brought before her at the dining room table as if in presentation to an idiot Queen, all terse and awkward decorum, in anticipation, as it were, of a detached and senseless laugh. Minnie would beam a smile of grandmotherly pleasure upon us and fix somewhere on each face one of those gross, heavily smeared lipstick kisses of comic, Woody Allen reminiscence. There was no other effort at contact with us. What there was, until Minnie grew too old and the visits ceased, was the ritual of found-gift giving. Planted at the table, each grandchild in turn beside her, Minnie would reach into and draw out from large Alexander’s or Mays department store shopping bags a succession of soiled and broken toys that she had retrieved from the street: punctured rubber balls, wheel-less cars, half-used pencils, lone figurines, all held up with wonder before our eyes as if baubles brought from China. Sharyn, Jeffrey, and I would receive each gift in a manner of stupefied thanks, and then pass it to one parent, who would pass it to the other, who would next, for safekeeping, place the item into a bag, which would later, after Minnie’s departure, complete the cycle of its existence as a garbage bag finally to be disposed of. Gift giving over, we grandchildren would depart—to leave the adults to their adult time together—but not before being quietly directed to go to the bathroom to wash our hands.

….

AJA


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Creative Culture Clash

We Fuses

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Julia gave me a splendid gift for my birthday today. When I was a very young man in Manhattan, in my early and later twenties, I would pour over and plow through the book reviews and journals – all the epistles from the church of literature –  including, deliciously each Sunday, the New York Times Book Review, in those days, under John Leonard, so much more seriously literary than now. I would cut out black and white print photos of so many of the twentieth century’s greats and excerpts of books and poetry collections, memoirs and anecdotes that captured my admiring and aspiring fancy. Apparently, years ago, I gave the folder with all of those clippings to Julia. I forgot that. I forgot I even had such a folder.

This morning,  framed against blackboard, I received three arrangements of photos and literary selections to start my day, a summation of my life’s passion and a recollection of my youth in thrall to it. Heading one collection, cut from the subhead of the story of some other writer’s life, were these words: “All he wanted to do was be a writer.”

I don’t like growing older. I like it less than last year and only a little bit better than next. If you want to tell me that you celebrate the accumulation of your years and experience, hold your tongue. Julia says that, but she has special privileges. If you say it beats the alternative, you’re banned from the blog. In my annual acknowledgment of the day, I do not so much celebrate my birthday as attempt to lose myself in each year’s newly chosen festive balm. “Short Farewells,” by William Matthews, from one of those three frames, helped me begin this time, speaking of toasts to departures, in which “you hold a small mouthful / of wine on your tastebuds and let your body / meditate on travel, the saddest / of its pleasures.”

…Somebody breaks the silence
with a joke and then it’s done.
It hurts to age and part but it hurts worse
not to, to turn blue with held breath.
Rain falls on our scalps like the blunt ends
of pins. We wear our grief like an extra flesh,
but it is only pain. Those lurid paths
we blazed along, we fuses? They’ll cross
again if we should want. I’ll drink to that.

AJA

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Creative Culture Clash Indian Country Israel On The Road The Political Animal

Taking Stock, Taking a Leave

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The first post on this blog is dated December 2, 2008, so I have been blogging as of the date of this post, four years, three months and two days. I began when Julia and I hit the road during a sabbatical year, traveling the country in our motor home researching Native American life. In those early days, blogging was about our experiences in Indian Country and the deep, moving joy of road travel. If you feel the strike of an interest, you can go back in the monthly archives or click “On the Road” on the horizontal menu bar and read what it was like when this blog traveled a different path from the one of recent years.

Before that original mission, I had never imagined any interest or conceived an intention to blog. So it was a gradual startlement, of a kind most bloggers experience, at how, as Wallace Stevens once wrote, of a jar upon a hill in Tennessee, “It took dominion every where.” Major events have happened in my life while I blogged, acknowledged and transformed by the blog, as writing transfigures everything. As with other marked experiences in life, there is for me now life before the blog and life since the blog.

I learned over time, again like many other bloggers, that blogs generally cannot be all things to all readers. I tried to mix the original focus with a broader political interest and with rough drafts of some creative work, too. That did not work in building readership, and since I was not treating the blog as a personal journal, I did want it to be read. Political writing drew more readers more quickly, and it was easier to produce, so the sad red earth became, with occasional forays into locales my fancy still would take me, what it has become.

Beyond even those broad political interests, the sad red earth gave increasing attention to Israel. That was never my intention with the blog, either, but while unintentional, it was not accidental. In the area of international affairs, where my political interests predominate, Israel is the focus of many other people’s attention too, exceedingly beyond what its relative circumstances warrant. My concern with that fact might seem obviously based in my being Jewish, and it would be silly of me to deny that element of personal import, but were my concerns based in that personal relation alone, I would be hard pressed to make the case that Israel should matter to everyone. It should matter to everyone not because it matters to Jews, but because its misguided critics and it enemies, masked and outright, have placed it at the very fault line of a civilizational crisis that affects all liberal democracies, and the fissures extending from that fault lead in every political direction. Why Israel matters is a topic about which I will continue to write, with even greater focus and, I hope, clarity.

Now, though, after mostly long periods of daily blogging, or of blogging several times a week during these four plus years, over recent weeks, the frequency of my posts has diminished. I always tended to write not the usual brief or mid-length post, but extended essays, and even knocked out pretty quickly, they consumed a lot of time. This writing has had many benefits. I am a writer, and the past four years have been enormously productive of words, beyond even what is reflected on the sad red earth. But there is much else I want to write, of book length and in other genres, that cannot stand the drain of attention to the blog. I need the time to do that writing. There is, too, life stuff that needs to be unstuffed. The pressure to produce for the blog is not one I wish to accommodate anymore, not for now, anyway.

It is not my thought to give up blogging completely or for good. I have made for myself, if not a megaphone, at least, then, a little bottle for my message, and I plan to float it when the spirit moves: excerpts of and links to what I will publish elsewhere, as well as original posts whenever inspiration and opportunity are cooperative. In not too many days, there will be the spring issue of West and my column on poetry there. Other works in other genres are in other pipelines.

It is time for change. For half my life I didn’t know that I liked it as I do. In the second half of my life, I learned that I need it, feel a calling for it, like the undiscovered country that looms up speeding by through the window of a car, or a motor home or a train, any vehicle that can make a movie of the journey from where you are to where you have never been.

I wish to focus more on my creative work again, including that mix, or that meeting, of the personal with the world-historical forces that both produce and ignore the personal. I want to write some of that parchment that Aureliano II is reading at the end of One Hundred Years of Solitude, when the great hurricane begins to blow – the lived and unlived history of Macondo and its people leading to that moment.

Aureliano skipped eleven pages so as not to lose time with facts he knew only too well, and he began to decipher the instant that he was living, deciphering it as he lived it, prophesying himself in the act of deciphering the last page of the parchments, as if he were looking into a speaking mirror. Then he skipped again to anticipate the predictions and ascertain the date and circumstances of his death. Before reading the final line, however, he had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that the city of mirrors (or mirages) would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment when Aureliano Babilonia would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.

AJA

Susana Baca & Javier Lazo

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Indian Country Israel The Political Animal

Writing Paradise

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I learned at an early adult age, with only minor but memorable pain, not to hero-worship. When we lionize people, we tend to forget the natural inclination of the lion to consume the person. I prefer admiration. Admiration works from the muck up. While hero worship sets up the faithful for a fall, admiration begins in the recognition of human failings and appreciates a person’s achievement in rising above them. Fewer disappointments that way, more genuine appreciation of the distinction in the ascent.

I was asked the other day, after tweeting of his death, about my thoughts on Russell Means. Not that I have any special standing to speak about him. Very soon after, I was informed of what I had not known, not having bothered to read the schedule – that Russell Means was on the schedule to speak at the coincidentally named and meretricious Russell Tribunal, and prevented from appearing only, near his end, by the cancer that killed him.

Russell Means was a controversial figure even among the Native peoples he championed, but that is almost a commonplace. Strong people who play leading roles in resistance movements usually are controversial. There is not a palliative manner in which to challenge oppressive power and seek to overthrow a structure of domination. One can hardly come closer to such an ideal – if that it be – than Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., and look how they were reviled by those they opposed and by some who contended with them for influence. See how they were dealt with in the end.

Means, from what I know, came up bad. It was a rough life, a poor one. Some of the violence of his life in the 1970s was as much an outburst of rage and wild destructive frustration as it was a plan of resistance. But in the 1970s, Russell Means was one of the people who stuffed in the face of a smug, amnesiac America a defining truth of its origins that it still does not acknowledge. One can argue that the conquest of Indigenous America, with its long falling action in diminishment and despair, only ended, at last, in the 1970s, with the rise of the American Indian Movement. There are those who say that all of Indigenous rights movements of the Americas – stronger, actually, in some countries than they are in the U.S. – have their origin in the rebirth of pride marked by the American Indian Movement that Russell Means helped lead. That the achievement of Evo Morales, the indigenous Aymara President of Bolivia has its origin in the American Indian Movement that Russell Means helped lead.

For the rest of his life, whatever directions Means took, including his Hollywood career, he never acquiesced in his mind to the brute reality.

The brute reality is that while the victims of prejudice and discrimination may ultimately be relieved of those afflictions, and the descendents of slaves live free themselves of enslavement, American Indians and all the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas will not be unconquered. They are not another minority in any kind of melting pot, but a conquered people compelled to live within a conquering culture that ignores and disregards them, refusing even to recognize the nature of the act it committed against them. (As one neat symbol, consider the head of Metacomet, displayed on a stake at the Plymouth Colony for two decades after the colonial victory in King Philip’s War.)

None among us who is not Indigenous can know the interior landscape of the wisdom it takes not to live a life in blind fury. If I imagine myself a Native American, I can imagine myself Russell Means.

As it turns out, because the well of ideological depravity is as deep as the field of human barbarity is wide, the abuse of Indigenous Peoples comes from every direction. Whereas once reactionary national and religious institutions pretended to seek for Indigenous Peoples their civilization and salvation, now it is left, international pretenders to peace and justice who claim to champion their liberation. Once again Indigenous Peoples are used and abused, if only, this time, conceptually.

It makes only superficial but surely apparent and satisfying sense to connect the historical conquest and the current disempowerment of Indigenous Peoples to the general postcolonial critique of imperial power. And what do the activists of any political movement wish for but a handy Rosetta stone of historical understanding to share with the people? But using power and its imbalances as the homogenizing agent that substitutes for specific historical and political analysis renders thought as unchallenging and pleasing at one end of the political spectrum as does a mantra like American Exceptionalism at the other. Yet for an indigenous person steeped in the overwhelming history of the West’s annihilation of Native cultures, the inclination to disambiguate any particular power imbalance in the world must be very slight indeed.

So there it is. The Dutch, French, German, and English in Africa. The Spanish and Portuguese in Central and South America. The English, French, and Spanish in North America. The French (and Japanese, while we’re at it) in Southeast Asia. Jews in Judea. All the same.

If I had ever met Russell Means, I would have wished to talk with him – as I do so many Native leaders, as I will on the Omaha reservation next month – about all in his life and career that challenges human imagination and compassion. I might, too, have asked him about Sioux warfare against the Pawnee and encroachment on Pawnee land, how the Pawnee were powerless against the much larger and more aggressive tribe. I might have mentioned how after the Ponca Indians were ethnically cleansed and removed from the Nebraska territory to Oklahoma, in order to open the way for white settlement, some Ponca made their way by foot back to Nebraska; how when they arrived ill and starving, the Omaha Indians welcomed them on their own land in Nebraska and supported the Ponca in their request to return home.

I might have reminded Means of what he always reminded others, how the Black Hills of South Dakota were taken from the Sioux by the United States in violation of the Fort Laramie treaties of 1851 and 1868. I might have asked him how many years the Sioux might remain exiled from that land, those sacred hills – more than 140 years now, but even one thousand, two thousand – before he would claim they had lost their indigenous, historic, moral right to return.

I cannot ask him that now. And on the record of his life is included now, too, his intent to speak before a miscreant panel of the hateful and slanderous who rhetorically style themselves champions of the “indigenous” (Palestinians) only for the purpose of wielding that concept as a club against Israel and Jews.

How, then, to feel?

A couple of weeks ago, I suffered briefly through a foolish, facile attack by a Jewish voice on President Obama. The writer employed the trope of T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men” against Obama, and concluded by declaring his stance with Eliot against Obama. I reminded the writer of Eliot’s anti-Semitism and of the occasion when the English Jewish poet Emanuel Litvinoff, upbraided Eliot in verse in the master’s presence, before an admiring crowd. Litvinoff, as I, as any reader of English poetry, was an admirer of Eliot.

Eliot’s friend Ezra Pound, “Il miglior fabbro,” was more famously anti-Semitic, with greater pronouncement. Any student of Modernism is an admirer of Pound. Yet even at the end of his worst travails, before his long silence unto death, when Pound condemned the anti-Semitism of his fascist support, he dismissed it, still inadequately reflective, as a “suburban prejudice,” reducing to an aesthetic error, in bohemian condescension, what is a great moral failing.

Still, the cover photo on my Facebook page is this.

The currents of the very aged Pound locked in a gaze with the statue of his long-dead peer James Joyce – a man contemptuous of political engagement and passion – those are currents of thought that will invite me to swim for a very long time.

On the home page of an online literature course I teach I have placed this photo of Pound.

The great poet standing in his library, literary and exotic, with his forebears – see Joseph Conrad? – gazing over him. It sets a tone for the students, richer for them in memory years from now when they may know more than presently. What they also know not now is any reason why I superimposed over the photo Pound’s “Notes for Canto CXX,” the last addition to the great craftsman’s lifelong, impossible poetic project.

I have tried to write Paradise

Do not move
      Let the wind speak
        that is paradise.

Let the Gods forgive what I
        have made
Let those I love try to forgive
        what I have made.

AJA

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Culture Clash On The Road

Writers Write

“Oh! It is only a novel! … only some work in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language.”

Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (1818)

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait b...
Image via Wikipedia

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Culture Clash

Sad Red Reading

Along with the new blog look, you’ll find a revitalized, now to be regularly updated, Sad Red Reading feature over at the right of the page, not that far from the top. There I link to some favored writings reflecting the varied interests of the blog: literary, political, more widely cultural and philosophical. Right now you can read an excerpt of Jonathan Franzen‘s Freedom, a current favored poem that was the subject of the previous post, one my two favorite stories so far from The New Yorker‘s ongoing 20 under 40 series, and two longer form political analyses than the usual blog fare.

I’ll be showcasing only what I consider really good reading, but the taste and interests will be mine. For what they’re worth. Check it out.

AJA

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Writers Write

“My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel – it is, above all, to make you see. That – and no more, and it is everything.”

Joseph Conrad, “Preface” to The Nigger of the Narcissus (1897)

* * *

“Most people cannot see anything, but i can see what is in front of my nose with extreme clearness; the greatest writers can see through a brick wall.”

W. Somerset Maugham, The Summing Up (1938)

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The Five Most Misconceived Criteria for Determining the Fifteen Most Overrated Contemporary American Writers

Yes, that may be the longest title I have ever placed above a piece of my writing, but only the first six of the words are mine. The remainder is appropriated from Anis Shivani’s post the other day at Huffington Post. It’s gotten a lot of reaction, elsewhere, and, as I write, over 1650 comments at HuffPo. I predict I will receive fewer.

Shivani’s is the kind of provocative piece people write periodically, often in the arts. Not long ago at all – like two months – it was Lee Siegal proffering that fiction is now irrelevant. Here it is Shivani identifying the fifteen so designated writers whose syntax isn’t all it is currently arranged to be. These guys are big thinkers. It’s breathtaking. I’m not that the confident (Y2K) a prognosticator or comprehensive a critic. As Paul Simon sagely summed it all those years ago, “Can analysis be worthwhile?” Ask Woody Allen. “Is the theater really dead?” Apparently not.

So I’m thinking rather smaller – rather than fifteen writers, one: Shivani. I haven’t read him. Actually, I’ve now read one thing, this piece of his on the fifteen writers. It is an essay that one can confidently describe as criticism in both of its common senses. It is negative characterization and it is evaluative analysis. It is, in vitriol, rather a lot of the former and in length more a blitzkrieg of the latter. I’m going to focus on the latter, because the latter is the basis, if not the justification, for the former.

When we evaluate, for our judgments to be meaningful – for they themselves to be evaluated by readers as a basis for the readers themselves to judge well our judgments – we need to operate from a set of criteria. When we are unknown to our readers, it is helpful to be explicit about those criteria. Shivani is.

If we don’t understand bad writing, we can’t understand good writing. Bad writing is characterized by obfuscation, showboating, narcissism, lack of a moral core, and style over substance. Good writing is exactly the opposite. Bad writing draws attention to the writer himself. These writers have betrayed the legacy of modernism, not to mention postmodernism. They are uneasy with mortality. On the great issues of the day they are silent (especially when they seem to address them, like William T. Vollmann). They desire to be politically irrelevant, and they have succeeded. They are the unreadable Booth Tarkingtons, Joseph Hergesheimers, and John Herseys of our time, earnestly bringing up the rear.

So, now, as I consider with what regard I am going to approach Shivani’s criticism of his benighted fifteen, I should be considering what I think of his criteria. The latter part of the paragraph above is aesthetic peroration, mostly to the issue of a writer’s possessing a “moral core,” one of five specific criteria of bad writing that Shivani sets forth. Shivani says we must know bad writing to know good writing. That right there is a curious prioritizing of categories. It is true that the process of definition often makes use of negation – the delineation of what a thing is not, in order to establish more firmly the boundaries of what it is. But Shivani seems to conceptualize good writing as whatever has managed to resist the invasive advance of bad writing. Wherever the “38th parallel” may be at which bad writing is stopped sets the boundary of what is good – on the other side of it. But, notably, Plato did not first seek to arrive at the Form of the Bad, and only then by its lights (or darkness) proceed to determine the Good. Kant did not first elaborate a Categorical Prohibition, before enunciating his Categorical Imperative. Shivani is – how can I best say this? – kind of negative.

All right, so what about the criteria themselves, of bad writing. I’m afraid I have a problem at the start. Shivani says bad writing is “characterized by obfuscation.” The problem with this criterion is that obfuscation is an intentional act. It is not a simple absence of clarity; it is purposeful obscurantism. Did Shivani really mean that? I do

Tree of Good Writing

not know, but attributions of intent in such matters are an aimless critical ramble to nowhere. Clarity is certainly a time-honored ideal of good writing (if I may be so positive), but even so, we must ourselves be clear about the kind of writing we address. Creative writing has different purposes from critical or reportorial or even the merely functional. Shivani includes novelists, poets, newspaper critics and academics in his list. Academics are often accused of unnecessary difficulty and obscurity in their writing, but it is not a charge usually leveled against Helen Vendler, the academic Shivani criticizes, though it is sometimes a complaint against Jorie Graham, a poet Vendler has championed. Yet how differently must we address the issue of clarity with regard to poetry, which the uninitiated often find, functionally, unclear, and, in their more insecure moments, even think perversely obfuscatory?

What about “showboating”? This actually seems to create, along with “style over substance,” a redundancy from two among the only five criteria. It also raises an old, irresolvable matter of simple taste. When does style assert itself so far as to overwhelm substance and become showboating? And does Shivani mean linguistic style or style as represented in form? Did Joyce showboat, or Faulkner? David Foster Wallace or Gerard Manley Hopkins? Does Pynchon? Simplicity of style, even minimalism, have long had their adherents, to the point that here, where I live, in the city of angels and roaring lions, with Hollywood nearly an enemy of the word, screenwriting cant for years now has been that “less is more.” Sometimes, however, it is observably so that less is regrettably less. Shivani, if I may say, has clarified nothing with that criterion.

This leaves us with “narcissism” and the question of a “moral core,” which latter criterion seems for Shivani to be related to the question of confronting the “issues of the day” and being politically relevant. On that latter as a necessary characteristic of good writing, I’ll direct Shivani to Vladimir Nabokov (a little something of a showboater himself), who was distinctly disparaging of the literature of ideas. Narcissism, of course, has been a personally unfortunate, artistically blessed condition of many great artists of all kinds. Presumably, confessional poets would qualify, and not be to the taste of the non-confessional in nature (say, a Lutheran, why don’t we), but fine production has not eluded them either.

Which leaves us where, after this review? With a critic who here and there may have hit upon a reason to consider some among his fifteen “overrated” writers with a more critical eye, but who has offered no basis – the criterion upon which his criticism is supposedly based – to credit him with the coherent vision and with the trust to follow his analysis to like judgments of our own.

Got people talking about literature, though.

And about him.

Couldn’t hurt.

AJA

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Culture Clash

Writers Write

“Many writers who choose to be active in the world lose not virtue but time, and that stillness without which literature cannot be made.”

Gore Vidal, Réalités, August 1966

—–

“Writing doe not exclude the full life. It demands it.”

Katherine Anne Porter, from On Writing the Short Story, by Hallie Burnett

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“Literature must be written from the periphery toward the center…The man who is in the center does not have anything to write.”

Kenzaburo Oe, Art and Healing, 16 April 1999

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Writers Write

“I live with the people I create and it has always made my essential loneliness less keen.”

Carson McCullers, The Square Root of Wonderful, 1958

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Writers Write

“For me writing – the only possible writing – is just simply the conversion of nervous force into phrases.

Joseph Conrad, Letter to H. G. Wells, 3 November 1903

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Writers Write

“You don’t know about me, without you have read a book by the name of ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,’ but that ain’t no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly.”
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

* * *

“The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between the lightning and the lightning bug.”

Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens), Letter to Charles Bainton, 15 October 1883

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Writers Write

“You do the writing as a debt of honor”

Anne Lamott, Interview, Internet Roundtable 22 November 1994

* * *

“If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the “Ode on a Grecian Urn” is worth any number of old ladies.”

William Faulkner, Interview (pdf), Paris Review Spring 1956

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Culture Clash

Writers Write

“The trade of authorship is a violent and indestructible obsession.”

George Sand (Aurore Lucile Dupin) Letter, March 4, 1831.

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Writers Write

“Camerado! This is no book; who touches this touches a man.”

Walt Whitman, “So Long,” from Leaves of Grass

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Writers Write

“I always try to write on the principle of the iceberg. There is seven-eighths of it under water for every part that shows.”

Ernest Hemingway, Interview by George Plimpton Paris Review, (pdf), spring 1958

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Writers Write

“Every authentic creation is a gift to the future.”

Albert Camus, “The Artist and His Time.”

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Culture Clash

Writers Write

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Samuel Becket Westward Ho

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Culture Clash

Writers Write

“Any writer, I suppose, feels that the world into which he was born is nothing less than a conspiracy against the cultivation of his talent.”

James Baldwin

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Culture Clash

Writers Write

“I’m just trying to look at something without blinking.”

Toni Morrison

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Culture Clash

Writers Write

“Never trust the artist. Trust the tale.”

D. H. Lawrence

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