“I’m not fazed when the needle first goes in, and then when she finds it, it’s not the way the blood spits through the leur-lock like a bullet wound in a movie (because it’s an artery she’s hit) that gets me. What makes me look away and put a hand over my mouth is watching how she hits it; when they at first don’t succeed, she and Chad seem to come to some sort of agreement, and she shoves the needle down. In my mind, it seems like to bury completely in his arm. One thing I know I remember accurately: the way Chad’s eyes flutter and roll back in his head, the way his face goes slack, when the needle breaches the vessel. It’s like he’s dying and coming and about to vomit all at once.”—
“Like a Tao Lin novel, filled with a billion affectless references to things in the culture around us, but leaving the characters’ interior lives bizarrely shrouded and unknowable and only guessed at—way more secretive and half-glimpsed and special than anything Person 1.0 would ever come up with.”—Pitchfork (via heheheheheheheeheheheehehe)
“So, yes, I’m racist. And so are you. And if that pisses you off, allow me to elucidate.
Much of the problem, to my mind, comes from the fact that we tend to identify people as racist, making it an adjective, or worse, as a racist, turning the adjective into a noun. By saying “that guy’s a racist” we implicitly wall-off the racism, imprison it in his flesh, and by implication taint every aspect of his being with it. We free ourselves from the idea that “a racist” is something we could ever be, allowing us to remain the stainless heroes of our own stories. After all, we don’t burn crosses on people’s lawns, we don’t use certain epithets, and we don’t consciously think “Gosh, I sure do hate people of ethnicities different from my own!””
It really pisses me off when people have only one agenda item in terms of social injustice, and that agenda item is “the time I didn’t get into Princeton because I was Asian.”
Wake up, do some reading, and learn some context for your complaints. (Which are valid, but ugh, why is the only injustice that you admit into your worldview still one that affects only privileged people of the same background as you, and why do you continue to deny literally every other problem just because you have not personally experienced it and/or you’ve decided that other people do not deserve respectful/human treatment by society the way that you do?)
Jonathan Haidt on Thought Catalog! Moral intuition and his new book, The Righteous Mind.
Makes me laugh a little, because Jonathan Haidt is so legitly scientific and academic, and Thought Catalog is so legitly personal writing and angst. (Also David McMillian keeps saying “segway” at segues and it makes me think of funky transportation.)
“Let us begin our activism right here: with the money-driven villainy at the heart of American foreign policy. To do this would be to give up the illusion that the sentimental need to “make a difference” trumps all other considerations. What innocent heroes don’t always understand is that they play a useful role for people who have much more cynical motives. The White Savior Industrial Complex is a valve for releasing the unbearable pressures that build in a system built on pillage. We can participate in the economic destruction of Haiti over long years, but when the earthquake strikes it feels good to send $10 each to the rescue fund. I have no opposition, in principle, to such donations (I frequently make them myself), but we must do such things only with awareness of what else is involved. If we are going to interfere in the lives of others, a little due diligence is a minimum requirement.”—
“ Over the course of the next three days, I worked piecemeal on the painting, continually plagued with visitors asking about why the accumulation of detail was taking so long, why I was the slowest painter ever. I thought, ‘I’m pushing this fat thing through the narrow birth canal of my imagination, and you dare to question my productivity! I will lick your stupid face!”—
"[F]or a long time, I wrote only about white characters….The breakthrough came when I started to be able to read my own stories objectively. Something was not making sense. Why were my characters who they were? I inserted plenty of flashbacks and backstory to try to “explain” them. But in the end, I realized that what they were missing…was a crucial piece of me that had gone into them. They were Asian, like me."
Wow, I did not see that coming. (It probably means something that no one really questioned the characters in my writing before.) I’ve always written white characters, I guess, under the implicit assumption that they were raceless (because their race was not mentioned, therefore white was default), and that this would give my writing more universality, would provide it more literary oomph somehow. And Salesses is right that Asian-American writers are relegated to some other, non-mainstream realm, where the connotation is that their work is somehow reductively about race only. On the other hand, just as there is no ungendered subject, there is no unraced subject either - we can’t remove those filters from our experience of reality.
But now that I think about it I always fought a somewhat subconscious battle with naming my characters. Whenever I named someone Jordan or Caroline or Esther or something that to me very obviously indicated their whiteness, I felt this tug of cognitive dissonance - in a way I think I was reacting to the fact that I’d distanced myself from them by giving each of them a white identity and therefore the experiences/background/lived history of a white person. And that if I’d done this to my characters - made them white - then did I still know how to write from their perspectives? Recently I’ve found that I’ve started avoiding names entirely, leaving my protagonists with only generic gendered pronouns instead.
Coming as this does at the tail end of my creative writing thesis, I have to say I’m perturbed and perplexed. A lot to unravel here.
“…just when I had got used to the limits and dimensions of one moment, I was expelled into the next and made to wonder again if any shapes hid in its shadows. That most moments were substantially the same did not detract at all from the possibility that the next moment might be utterly different. And so the ordinary demanded unblinking attention.”—Marilynne Robinson (Housekeeping)
I should say, I am not happy to have to come to you and tell you that something that we presented on the radio as factual is not factual. All of us in public radio stand together and I have friends and colleagues on lots of other shows who – like us here at This American Life – work hard to do accurate, independent reporting week in, week out. I and my coworkers on This American Life are not happy to have done anything to hurt the reputation of the journalism that happens on this radio station every day. So we want to be completely transparent about what we got wrong, and what we now believe is the truth.
And let’s just get to it.
The transcripts walks us through Mike Daisey’s trip to China to investigate labor conditions at Foxconn, and leads to an interview between Marketplace’s Rob Schmitz, Ira Glass and Daisey himself.
Really interested to hear this episode, and not entirely sure about the whole fabrication thing. Sometimes I entertain the thought that specifically true details aren’t important so much as the general emotional truth they convey, but this is a sort of nihilistic notion that has no teeth - and when it’s tested against stuff like the Mike Daisey story, it starts seeming pretty lame.
I like words. I like fat buttery words, such as ooze, turpitude, glutinous, toady. I like solemn, angular, creaky words, such as straitlaced, cantankerous, pecunious, valedictory. I like spurious, black-is-white words, such as mortician, liquidate, tonsorial, demi-monde. I like suave “V” words, such as Svengali, svelte, bravura, verve. I like crunchy, brittle, crackly words, such as splinter, grapple, jostle, crusty. I like sullen, crabbed, scowling words, such as skulk, glower, scabby, churl. I like Oh-Heavens, my-gracious, land’s-sake words, such as tricksy, tucker, genteel, horrid. I like elegant, flowery words, such as estivate, peregrinate, elysium, halcyon. I like wormy, squirmy, mealy words, such as crawl, blubber, squeal, drip. I like sniggly, chuckling words, such as cowlick, gurgle, bubble and burp.
I like the word screenwriter better than copywriter, so I decided to quit my job in a New York advertising agency and try my luck in Hollywood, but before taking the plunge I went to Europe for a year of study, contemplation and horsing around.
I have just returned and I still like words.
May I have a few with you?
385 Madison Avenue
My new favorite job application letter, from 1934. He ended up winning an Oscar for screenwriting!
“You see, like most women, I was born with the chromosome abnormality known as “XX,” a deviation of the normative “XY” pattern. Symptoms of XX, which affects slightly more than half of the American population, include breasts, ovaries, a uterus, a menstrual cycle, and the potential to bear and nurse children. Now, many would argue even today that the lack of a Y chromosome should not affect my ability to make informed choices about what health care options and lunchtime cat videos are right for me. But others have posited, with increasing volume and intensity, that XX is a disability, even a roadblock on the evolutionary highway. This debate has reached critical mass, and leaves me uncertain of my legal and moral status. Am I a person? An object? A ward of the state? A “prostitute”? (And if I’m the last of these, where do I drop off my W-2?)”
“my favorite emotions include ‘brief calmness
in good weather’ and ‘i am the only person alive’
without constant reassurance i feel terribly lonely and insane
i have moved beyond meaningless, far beyond meaningless
to something positive, life-affirming, and potentially best-selling”—Tao Lin (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) (via faisceau)
I think it’s an ugly term when applied to information. When you talk about consuming information you are talking about information as a commodity, rather than information as the substance of our thoughts and our communications with other people. To talk about consuming it, I think you lose a…
Remember when you said, after we’d camped near Crater Lake for a week, that I looked like the sort of tree one sees in a dream? I made fun of you all day. Called you loony. But now, with your tangerine tree, the one you planted and fed fireplace ash all its first winter, covered with hummingbirds I know exactly what you were trying to say that precious day. Dearheart: a single word would be enough to summon me. All else burns off like fog. I lie vividly awake. Waiting.