“I’ve spent the past couple of years thinking about the “twice as good” notion in the black community, and the bindings that we put on young black boys so that their country will not kill them. Of course “twice as good” ultimately means half as many arrive, and those who do receive half as much. Let us dispense with self-congratulation and great men. The question is not, “What did Jackie Robinson achieve in spite of racism?” It is, “How much more would he achieved without it?” An ethic of “twice as good” divorced from any complaint, divorced from history is “Go for self” and can have no effect whatsoever upon a justice system, upon voter ID laws, upon asset forfeiture, upon Wells Fargo. The masses of the plundered will never be respectable to those who plunder them. The essence of plunder is disrespect. They can never respect you. They hate you, sir.”—Ta-Nehisi Coates, on Kim Novak and being “twice as good.” (via theatlantic)
I get to what I know should be the end of the book. I have my characters all assembled and in the right places. I feel a low sense of dread about finishing the project I’ve been working on for months or years and my mind gets fuzzy. I forget what the story is really about. Everything falls into a jumble of possibilities. I poke around fearfully and come up with an ending that seems OK. It’s plausible, at least, if not artful. So I slap it on and I send the damn manuscript off (to my reader/agent/editor) just to be rid of it, to have the pain of separation done.
Every time, I get a letter back from the reader, agent, editor (or all three) that says, ‘Pitch perfect until page 317 then it all falls apart. The ending is all wrong. Try again.’
”—How would you feel if your novels all fell apart at the end? The writer Ann Bauer knows this feeling, and it’s painful — she says that her readers inevitably tell her the endings of her novels are all wrong. (You could also read our own Sonya Chung’s essay on literary endings.)
S:how do humans do these things i wonder. how come i'm also a human. it doesn't make sense
V:ahhhh right? i wish i could do figure skating. i so so so wish i could take it up. this is soooo beautiful
S:or gymnastics, or any other sport let's be honest. people who know how to move are so great
S:meanwhile i fell down trying to catch a train
V:meanwhile i cant balance while im tying my shoe
S:meanwhile at lunch the other day i took a sip of water and it went down the wrong way and i started coughing and my coworker offered me more water and i had to tell him that water was what started it in the first place
“When a story is working, it feels like method acting. And I can tell when a story isn’t working — and those are the ones that didn’t make it into the book — because I’m still thinking so much more about the situation than the person. If the people aren’t living with me, then it doesn’t work.”—Molly Antopol (interviewed by The Millions here)
“A generation of writers intensely lionized for their early work has begun to produce third, fourth, and fifth novels, and this kind of love seems to have done them a disservice. I’m no more privy to what went on behind the scenes in The Goldfinch’s journey from draft to publication than I am aware of the ins and outs of similar processes for Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot or Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue. But I know that all three of these novels … read as though their editor had been afraid to touch them, and had left early, baggy drafts unchanged. Later work from those with early success often suffers, dulls, and gives in to less noble preoccupations. There are perfect sentences in Tartt’s novel (though fewer and further between than there perhaps should be to justify its length), but they demonstrate a rather cold and perfunctory mastery of the form. The Goldfinch performs all of the requisite effects of a large, great novel … without ever adding up to any profound meaning. It leaves one feeling as though the book is a beautiful party, attended by no one.”—Helena Fitzgerald (“Review of Donna Tartt’s The Gold Finch” | The Nervous Breakdown)
“Death’s unfixedness online suggests we don’t quite yet live in an Internet culture, though we say we do. The Internet Age won’t truly have arrived until social media accommodates the whole of human life, of which death is a fundamental part. But the small and strange ways in which death does appear online permit us a glimpse of what a real Internet culture may look like when it comes. What follows is an unfamiliar history of the Internet, one that tracks death’s so-far limited influence on online culture. Through this history, we can glimpse the future of social media, a future in which death makes room for itself in a culture that failed to make room for it”—
The revolution will not be cited. It will not have a bibliography, or a title page. The revolution will never happen in the seclusion of the ivory tower built by racist, sexist, and classist institutions. Professional academic researchers in the social sciences of many colleges and universities exploit the struggles of oppressed peoples. Oppressed peoples are left stranded with little to no resources after researchers leave their communities high and dry.
Researchers steal value from oppressed peoples by making them the subjects of theoretical research without lending them access to information that could better help their communities. Articles, books, and dissertations written about marginalized populations are written for academics, not working people, and as such have little impact on the people whose lives are the subject of this research. Liberal academics and social scientists are more concerned about developing the wealth of academic literature than addressing the immediate material concerns of the communities they research.
“Truth does not develop like bamboo, where new clumps always grow on top of old ones. It grows like a clumping grass, with new shoots often emerging beside the old branches, or sprouting up in a new place altogether. Thus, even those who hold many truths cannot announce that, henceforth, all new truths must simply extend in the same direction as their old truth. Likewise, they have no right to appoint themselves supreme judges over those new truths. And so, in suppressing opinions which we believe to be false, we may be suppressing the appearance of new truths.”—On Freedom of Speech 论言论自由 by Hu Ping 胡平, translated from the Chinese by Eric Abrahamsen - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics (via guernicamag)
“Early on in my journey as a Ploughshares blog contributor I began to notice an uncomfortable pattern: even if I started a post well before its due date, it absolutely did not come together until I was pushing the limits on that due date. But it’s not like I was sitting around waiting for the muses to come. I was writing and thinking and revising and wrestling and revising again. I was staring at the computer screen for hours at a time trying to figure out if that sentence was really saying what I intended for it to say. Too soon, the due date would arrive and I’d be scrambling. But then ‘magically,’ usually within the last hour before I submitted a post, the idea would come together.”—Why do some ideas only come to you when you’re under a tremendous amount of pressure? At the Ploughshares blog, S. Hope Millsreflects on the importance of deadlines, which may explain (according to Guardian columnist Robert Crum) why Dickens chose to serialize his novels. (via millionsmillions)
totally my experience. not with deadlines per se, but with the impending doom of other people’s eyes on my work.
“When Western writers point out Sochi Olympic blunders while also mocking the way Russians speak English, they only diminish their own street cred and fuel backlash. If Americans focus on shallow cultural differences, like what they think are funny sounds that Russians make, they’ll continue to believe all Russians are like Boris and Natasha from Rocky & Bullwinkle. In turn, they will lose authority to critique real issues in Russia…. So this is my plea to @SochiProblems, whining journalists and social media fiends: Have just a bit more respect for Russians, because while you might think you’re just ridiculing the Olympics, for many, this is their everyday life.”—Sarah Kaufman (“#SochiProblems Is More of an Embarrassment for America Than It Is for Russia" | PolicyMic)
“The Oji-Cree are literally being killed by technological advances…. It can take a society time to adjust to new technologies, and the group has also suffered other traumas, like colonization and the destruction of cultural continuity. Nonetheless, the story offers an important warning for the human race.”—
…and the group has also suffered other traumas, like colonization and the destruction of cultural continuity. …and the group has also suffered other traumas, like colonization and the destruction of cultural continuity. …and the group has also suffered other traumas, like colonization and the destruction of cultural continuity. …and the group has also suffered other traumas, like colonization and the destruction of cultural continuity. …and the group has also suffered other traumas, like colonization and the destruction of cultural continuity.
What killed the Oji-Cree — technology or colonization?
Fuck The New Yorker. This day has been a piece of shit ruined by shitty people saying shitty things about shit.
“Small talk makes me feel the way I do when a mosquito is buzzing around my head — irritated — and then finally unable to get any relief I just slaughter the damn thing. I slaughter the moment by saying something real.”—bell hooks, “Wounds of Passion: A Writing Life” (via et—cetera)