“FOR GOD’S SAKE LET US sit upon the ground And tell sad stories of the death of kings.”
– Wm. Shakspere, Richard II
“Are you a dream, Merlin?”
“A dream, to some. A NIGHTMARE TO OTHERS.”
“Well, it’s easy if you know all the notes!”
– Moosie Weinberger, a”h, on playing the piano with her nose
“Never give up. Never surrender.”
— Cmdr. Peter Quincy Taggart
“Are we having fun, yet?”
– Zippy the Pinhead
“Many days you have lingered around my cabin door
Oh! hard times come again no more.”
– Folk song
“In former dreams he had seen quaint lumbering buopoths come shyly out of that wood to drink, but now he could not glimpse any.”
– H. P. Lovecraft, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath
“We have heard the chimes at midnight, Master Shallow.”
– Wm. Shakespear, King Henry IV pt. II
LET’S MAKE THIS AN EXPLORATION of the landscapes of creativity — how does the creative experience feel to you?
Mentally, I’m all about visualization: perhaps it’s synesthesia, but even smells and sounds have a visual component for me. So I’ve always seen “the creative process” as starting with a curtain across half the universe. Every now and then, the curtain parts just enough to reveal an Idea.
It could be a series of images, even images of words. Now and then it’s a sound. But even the most abstract Idea carries a visual impression of girders and joists, ropes and scrim. Sometimes an Idea will be revealed a piece at a time, with a whole clicking into place almost audibly and palpably. If it’s long, like a story, it feels like a rope uncoiling from the other side of the curtain — a line which must not be allowed to grow slack.
Sometimes an Idea links up with something inside the rest of the universe. Other times it just sits there, gleaming, faintly pulsing, daring me to capture it in words on a screen or a sketch in a notebook. (If I don’t, it can fade within minutes.)
So let’s make this an exploration of the sense-scapes of creativity. How does the creative experience feel to you?
EVIDENTLY, SHE WROTE A POEM in 1928 called “Dirge With Music.” I have not yet read any of her other works, but I hope they’re like this one. The last stanza says it all:
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.
(Thanks to Rabbi David Wolpe for the quotation.)
UNLESS IT CONTAINS A CRITICISM of what the writer didn’t say, no letters-and-opinion section is complete.
THE FIRST TIME I DISCOVERED that my words had an effect on other people was when something I wrote made other people cry.
The people were my fellow high-school English students, and the topic was a personal essay we’d been assigned. My take on it was to write about loneliness, and I wish I still had the essay because I can’t even remotely reconstruct it after 31 years and thousands of more words down the line. Read more »
- Definition: “1 chiefly British : a large heavy truck 2 : a massive inexorable force, campaign, movement, or object that crushes whatever is in its path”
- Used in a sentence: “My sister’s new baby is a juggernaut of cuteness.”
- Why: Because Old Hindi words sound so innately cool.
THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF any story is the point at which it’s attached to the reader.
WITH THE ADVENT OF BLOGGING, men of letters have become men of keystrokes.
IF YOU HAVE NEVER READ the original James Bond stories by Ian Fleming, you don’t know James Bond.
You also don’t know sweeping prose that zips along like a rocket; lush description with a reporter’s eye for detail; fourth-wall breaking double-entendres; high-concept doomsday plans only one man can stop; and some of the best philosophical bon mots in the business. I like Fleming’s Bond for all these reasons, but mostly I like Fleming because he is a writer who inspires me to write — he makes it look easy, unlike some of my other literary heroes.
Read more »
“WHEN DID ART BEGIN TO be about purging one’s personal demons instead of making people smile, wonder or otherwise get over themselves?”
IN THIS ELECTRONIC ME-FIRST age, it is both rare and a point of honor never to begin a blog post with “I.” (Nitpickery note: I mean the word and concept, not the letter. Yeesh.) Not that I’m not tempted — but it’s too easy, too prevalent (for my tastes) and symptomatic of what I find least attractive about Lower North American pop culture.
There is a blogger who epitomizes what I’m talking about, and whose (apparently non-ironic) advice for Internet success is “Tap into narcissism.” She makes an interesting point, but I think that only produces a pile of people shouting “Lookit me! Lookit! Lookit!” instead of offering something interesting.
I don’t want my art to be narcissistic; I’d rather have it said about me “Who is this guy?” than “Who does this guy think he is?” Better still would be, “What a great story! Who wrote it? And are there more?”