“I love a lot of American writers, but I think that for the most part the scope of what’s accepted as great American writing is very limited. What we have is good, but it’s limited. There’s not enough engagement with the world. Our literature’s not adventurous enough. The influence of MFA writing tends to make things repetitive. The idea that writing can be taught has changed the whole conversation in the U.S. Aaliya mentions the divergence in American literature, how it’s followed Hemingway and Fitzgerald, but not Faulkner. And that might have come about because you can’t teach Faulkner in class. You can’t say, “Write like Faulkner,” the way you can with Hemingway.”
Wasn’t going to reblog this after the first few sentences, because it’s a repetitive argument made constantly and it’s usually reductive. But they might have a point.
There’s a lot of advice that gets propagated, I think, because it’s easy to workshop: here’s a handout. You’ve got a draft? Here’s a checklist; go revise. I’ll make a scoring chart to grade it. The methodology doesn’t address large-scale issues like structure very well (if at all) and can’t handle things like voice, premise, or theme that are what hook us as readers.
“Oh, what have we done! It’s a biblical question, and we do not seem able to pull ourselves out of its familiar—essentially religious—cycle of shame, denial, and self-flagellation. This is why (I shall tell my granddaughter) the apocalyptic scenarios did not help—the terrible truth is that we had a profound, historical attraction to apocalypse. In the end, the only thing that could create the necessary traction in our minds was the intimate loss of the things we loved. Like when the seasons changed in our beloved little island, or when the lights went out on the fifteenth floor, or the day I went into an Italian garden in early July, with its owner, a woman in her eighties, and upon seeing the scorched yellow earth and withered roses, and hearing what only the really old people will confess—in all my years I’ve never seen anything like it—I found my mind finally beginning to turn from the elegiac what have we done to the practical what can we do?”Zadie Smith nails exactly the problem with way we talk about climate change and the impending climate departure if we continue to do nothing in Elegy for a Country’s Seasons, over at The New York Review of Books (via alexanderchee)
Our sighting of a southwestern speckled rattlesnake (Crotalus mitchellii pyrrhus) in Joshua Tree NP. It stayed under the rock while we were there.
“Another myth that is firmly upheld is that disabled people are dependent and non-disabled people are independent. No one is actually independent. This is a myth perpetuated by disablism and driven by capitalism - we are all actually interdependent. Chances are, disabled or not, you don’t grow all of your food. Chances are, you didn’t build the car, bike, wheelchair, subway, shoes, or bus that transports you. Chances are you didn’t construct your home. Chances are you didn’t sew your clothing (or make the fabric and thread used to sew it). The difference between the needs that many disabled people have and the needs of people who are not labelled as disabled is that non-disabled people have had their dependencies normalized. The world has been built to accommodate certain needs and call the people who need those things independent, while other needs are considered exceptional. Each of us relies on others every day. We all rely on one another for support, resources, and to meet our needs. We are all interdependent. This interdependence is not weakness; rather, it is a part of our humanity.”AJ Withers Disability Politics and Theory p109 (via dandyfied)