An explanation of these contradictions may come from the other end of the world. The sociologist Pierre Bourdieu has argued that France produces, from time to time, a peculiar kind of figure whom he calls the “consecrated heretic.” Voltaire is one example; Rousseau another; Sartre a third. The consecrated heretic is an artist or intellectual who plants his feet firmly in the riverbed and faces the social current upstream, refusing to be carried along by it. He mocks conventional wisdom; he scandalizes ordinary people by what he believes, what he says, how he acts. Of course, many people do this, but only a tiny handful are celebrated for it, are seen as indispensable threads in the social fabric. The passionate earnestness of these few is acknowledged; they are clearly dedicated in their own perverse way to the common good. Eventually the nation’s major institutions seek to bestow high honors on such heretics, who of course turn aside disdainfully, which makes them treasured all the more. Les Murray is the chief consecrated heretic of Australia.
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Science fiction author Cory Doctorow talks about “Radicalized,” his new collection of novellas that take on political and social themes relevant now.
I have nothing but respect for Charlie, but this stuff doesn’t bother me in the way it bothers him. I think of [sci fi] as a reflective literature, not a predictive one. Moreover, I think the themes of the novellas in this book are sadly evergreen, even if the particulars change.
While many of his words are indelible in the mind, I’d like to see artists treat Shakespeare’s works the way he approached his many source stories, with a sense of play and transformation. We continue to perform these plays again and again, rehearsing and reiterating this language, even though our strict adherence to what’s set down on the page (even if it appears in several versions) is a fairly recent development. New works in the Shakespearean sphere can take the basics of what the Bard gave us and transform those elements into something that better speaks to our world, giving back some of what he left out.
If you’re not in love with words why are you writing? Wondrous, the books that explore the words, words that lead to ideas and ideas to expression. It is to your benefit to read a thousand books in…
Part of why both kids and parents love The Very Hungry Caterpillar is because it’s an educational book that doesn’t feel like a capital-E Educational book. Traditionally, children’s literature is a didactic genre: “It teaches something,” Martin says, “but the best children’s books teach without kids knowing that they’re learning something.” In The Very Hungry Caterpillar, she adds, “you learn the days of the week. You learn colors. You learn the fruits. You learn junk-food names. In the end, you learn a little bit about nutrition, too: If you eat a whole bunch of junk food, you’re not going to feel that great.” Yet, crucially, none of the valuable information being presented ever feels “in your face,” Martin says.
Beloved originated as a general question, and was launched by a newspaper clipping. The general question (remember, this was the early eighties) centered on how — other than equal rights, access, pay, etc. — does the women’s movement define the freedom being sought? One principal area of fierce debate was control of one’s own body — an argument that is as rife now as it was then. Many women were convinced that such rights extended to choosing to be a mother, suggesting that not being a mother was not a deficit and choosing motherlessness (for however long) could be added to a list of freedoms; that is, one could choose to live a life free of and from child- bearing and no negative or value judgment need apply.
So, despite the fact that it’s often inaccurate and reductive and possibly immoral, I understand why we like to call novels “Dickensian.” Over 200 years after the writer’s death, we’re just looking to recapture the feeling his canonical works gave us in some of our contemporary literature. If that sounds like something you’re interested in, some suggestions below.
The disorder is poorly understood. Should novelists be able to make it mean whatever they want?
The crux of the issue is that with autism there is often, not metaphorically but literally, a lack of voice, which renders the person a tabula rasa on which a writer can inscribe and project almost anything: Autism is a gift, a curse, super intelligence, mental retardation, mystical, repellent, morally edifying, a parent’s worst nightmare. As a writer, I say go ahead and write what you want. As a parent, I find this terrifying, given the way neurotypical people project false motives and feelings onto the actions of others every day.
I think it’s true there are two types of kids as school. One type probably breezes through school like gazelles across the veldt. For the more troubled types on the edge of the playground, how you get from one day to the next is a mystery. All writers come from the latter, because only if you’re in that group does the working of the human mind become an object of interest.”
I am not into frameworks so these are just suggestions for an approach to listening. It may not be rocket science but these are my thoughts…it starts with recognizing that our listening is limited by what we hear (how widely we are exposed to diverse ideas and how deeply we interact with them) and also how we hear (how open we are, how aware of our own biases and where others are coming from) and how we notice what we don’t hear (silence, between lines).
From a trash-filled Earth to the futuristic Axiom and back again, WALL·E is a finely crafted balance between consumerist dystopia and sixties space-race optimism. Please join me, then, for a detailed dive into the uniquely robotic future of a remarkably human film, as seen through the eyes of its eponymous hero, WALL·E.
More astonishing to me was that in mining his characters’ thoughts and private struggles, Faulkner used elevated maximalist language, the poetic and truest manifestation of these poor country people’s psyches and souls—and not the inarticulate staccato utterances that we hear realistically employed in active dialogue in scenes. This lashing together of characters and readers, through the tongues of the angels, is I think the most brilliant of all his moves. I felt as if knew each one to the marrow, their secrets and their sorrows, and most intriguingly to me their selfish inner motivations, the motors that made them run.
The earliest fragments of English reveal how interconnected Europe has been for centuries, finds Cameron Laux. He traces a history of the language through 10 objects and manuscripts.
Samuel Beckett’s work challenges us to open our eyes and see the mess of our modern political situation, writes author of Beckett’s Political Imagination Emilie Morin,
It’s been said a million times — it’s one of the main points of my books Steal Like An Artist and Show Your Work! — and yet, it still seems to be controversial or confusing to young people who are starting out: If you want to be a writer, you have to be a reader first.
As we read we compose, without thinking about it, a kind of running commentary or marginal jotting that adds more words to the words on the page. There is always already writing as the accompaniment to reading.
Reading is the process of gently breaking yourself: eroding dogma, undermining opinion, fracturing certainty. It’s a continual process of renewal: evaluating the things that we are sure are true, against new evidence that our certainty maybe unfounded, leaving us with the choice of growth, or stagnation. It’s an aggregated activity: we may not read one page that changes us, but the pages, in aggregate, change us immeasurably. If we are open to the opportunity.