“The problem is no longer getting people to express themselves, but providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say. Repressive forces don’t stop people from expressing themselves, but rather, force them to express themselves. What a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, or ever rarer, the thing that might be worth saying.”—Gilles Deleuze, “Mediators” (via allisonburtch)
A writer, I think, is someone who pays attention to the world. That means trying to understand, take in, connect with, what wickedness human beings are capable of; and not be corrupted — made cynical, superficial — by this understanding.
Literature can tell us what the world is like.
Literature can give standards and pass on deep knowledge, incarnated in language, in narrative.
Literature can train, and exercise, our ability to weep for those who are not us or ours.
Who would we be if we could not sympathize with those who are not us or ours? Who would we be if we could not forget ourselves, at least some of the time? Who would we be if we could not learn? Forgive? Become something other than we are?
“The things that scar us inform us, sometimes for the better. And I want to believe that Nyad’s greatest glory isn’t that she made it to the other shore in spite of her age. It’s that she got there because of it. I want to believe the pain and frustrations of all those other tries before, all the stings along the way, are what carried her to Florida, as I want to believe those are the very same things that carry us all through the dark waters of life. “We should never, ever give up,” Nyad declared Monday. “You never are too old to chase your dreams.” The key is to keep having dreams, in spite of whatever blows life doles out.”—The beautiful failures of Diana Nyad - Salon.com
I’ve always said there are – to oversimplify it – two kinds of writers. There are architects and gardeners. The architects do blueprints before they drive the first nail, they design the entire house, where the pipes are running, and how many rooms there are going to be, how high the roof will be. But the gardeners just dig a hole and plant the seed and see what comes up. I think all writers are partly architects and partly gardeners, but they tend to one side or another, and I am definitely more of a gardener. In my Hollywood years when everything does work on outlines, I had to put on my architect’s clothes and pretend to be an architect. But my natural inclinations, the way I work, is to give my characters the head and to follow them.
That being said, I do know where I’m going. I do have the broad outlines of the story worked out in my head, but that’s not to say I know all the small details and every twist and turn in the road that will get me there.
“Are you here for all the things that I don’t have” was my relationship with my mother. Not that she withheld things from me; they just weren’t there to give. That was sort of a sad but interesting thing. A story. My mother had killed herself, and one year later her younger sister killed herself. Their mother, not surprisingly, went into a depression and had electroshock therapy, which helped, but which knocked out some of her memory. So my grandmother called me and asked me to help her remember the “good times” with my mother. In fact, I didn’t have any. So instead I called on things I liked about my friends’ mothers. I gave them to her as though they were memories of her daughter. At the moment she asked me to do this I was fully aware of what an amazing thing was being presented to me. So I was there for all the things she didn’t have. And my grandmother wanted all the things I didn’t have, the good memories. That’s where that came from.”—Paris Review - The Art of Fiction No. 176, Amy Hempel
“Did you know in ancient Rome
priests called augurs studied
the future by carefully watching
whether birds were flying
together or alone, making what
honking or beeping noises
in what directions? It was called
the auspices. The air
was thus a huge announcement.
Today it’s completely
transparent, a vase.”—Erstwhile Harbinger Auspices by Matthew Zapruder : The Poetry Foundation
“…trying to describe how three years of sitting naked before strangers and feeling their empathy run like a current between you as they draw—this changes you. Gradually, it conditions you to feel that you need never prove yourself to anyone, or hide anything about yourself. (I have heard this from other art models, too.) And I took that feeling with me wherever I went, clothed, yet still unhiding. There was so much peace in that vulnerability!”—
Well, it’s not a best of list. It’s never comprehensive. It signifies nothing. But I love the exercise of waking daily, remembering the big songs that made the year substantial, worthwhile. Same game as last year, same caveats. I picked more than 31, I think. Sometimes I couldn’tchoose. I thought there would be very few guitars, but in fact there were some. I went to the gym as ritual every day, so I feel that is why there were so many more loops than usual. I love loops. I wrote a fair amount too, so there were characters, creatures, architectures that visited me. I lived the most during the summer, though at the time I felt bogged down by responsibility, work, professional impotence. I loved anythinganthemic. Many lyrics stood out and did nastylittletricks.
2012 was a strange year. I hesitate to call it bad; it laid down seed. Music pushed the old girl through, as always, as ever, and on. Whereas last year there were big album releases, this year I seemed to love the single-serving track. Actually, there was at least one album that I would slip on like a huge sweater on these last cold months. I respected and fought with traditional pop song structures. Some things stirred in me at the thought of one woman perfecting the old ABABCAB art in one album’s time.