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The ten thousand things and the one true only.

by Kip Manley

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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of putting it together.

Koenig is then asked about decisions she made with Serial’s decidedly unpatented voice. Co-producer Julie Snyder levels with her after an unsatisfying cut:

Edit after edit after edit… “It’s not working… It’s not good. I need to know what you—Sarah Koenig—make of all this. Otherwise I don’t care. I don’t know why you’re telling me all this… You need to make me care.” I was quite uncomfortable with that initially, but then I realized… That’s the thing that’s going to make you listen to the stuff I think is important.

If that sounds a lot like “Keep your eye on the ball,” you’re not wrong. But rest assured that our culture-making class hadn’t even thought of the ball much less kept an eye on it. (See: testaments to their confidence approximately everywhere you look.) Koenig’s discomforted by the idea that making someone else care is indistinguishable from selling it to them. To name just a few of the principled stands against Caring What Anyone Else Thinks: morning pages and the art-therapy discipline; The Compulsive’s Way—simply not being able to stop; “Dance Like Nobody’s Watching,” or art as vocation (“I have gained a space of my own, a space that is free, where I feel active and present.” —Elena Ferrante, not on Twitter). This has to do with one’s basic orientation as an author: Is art a means to cultivate or to reach? And if you must insist on writing, I have to ask—just how acutely do you feel the need to be borne witness to? Because a singular question harries stories at every turn, echoing the unminced words at the Serial editing bay: What is any of this for? Inevitably, the answer occurs somewhat too late: Making someone else care is the highest commandment of structure.

M.C. Mah

—posted 21 days ago


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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of the creep.


—posted 29 days ago


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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of the perfectly real.

On any given day, the pantheon of French Girls includes Bardot, Catherine Deneuve, Françoise Hardy, Jane Birkin, her daughters Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon, and former Vogue Paris editor Carine Roitfeld. Coco Chanel, immortalized not so much as a young woman but as an elegant matriarch, retires nearby. They’re distinct both as fully realized people and as types—Bardot is fiery, Deneuve icy, Birkin carefree, Roitfeld edgy—but all are regularly brought in as evidence of the French Girl’s actuality.

Who is she? She’s intellectual, cool, and a bit of a romantic, but she doesn’t give her approval easily or smile too much. She might run around in black-tipped Chanel slingbacks, or barefoot if she’s on vacation. She has a signature perfume. She eats cheese without abandon and nurses a single glass of wine all night because she’s a master of reasonable indulgences. She’s almost always white, hetero, and thin, and you can only conjure her by willfully ignoring the many French women whose daily routines do not involve bicycling along the Seine in mini skirts with baguettes tucked under their arms.

But the French Girl’s influence is tangible. She makes money for big American drugstore chains, department stores, independent brands, book publishers, magazines, and digital media companies. She definitely has something to do with the fact that rosé, sales of which outpaced the rest of the wine market last year, has become so popular in the US.

The obsession has become a business, and in that sense, the French Girl is perfectly real.

Eliza Brooke

—posted 36 days ago


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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of translation.

This novel Dee Goong An is offered here in a complete translation. Possibly it would have had a wider appeal if it had been entirely re-written in a form more familiar to our readers. Then, however, much of the genuine Chinese atmosphere of the original would have disappeared, and in the end both the Chinese author, and the Western reader would have been the losers. Some parts may be less interesting to the Western reader than others, but I am confident that also in this literal translation the novel will be found more satisfactory than the palpable nonsense that is foisted on the long-suffering public by some writers of faked “Chinese” stories, which describe a China and a Chinese people that exist nowhere except in their fertile imaginations.

Robert Van Gulik

—posted 45 days ago


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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of the sermon on
the way things ought to be.

Fantasy presents the world as it should be. But “should be” does not mean that the realms of fantasy are Lands of Cockaigne where roasted chickens fly into mouths effortlessly opened. Sometimes heartbreaking, but never hopeless, the fantasy world as it “should be” is one in which good is ultimately stronger than evil, where courage, justice, love, and mercy actually function. Thus, it may often appear quite different from our own. In the long run, perhaps not. Fantasy does not promise Utopia. But if we listen carefully, it may tell us what we someday may be capable of achieving.

Lloyd Alexander

—posted 52 days ago


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I am altering the deal.

Just in time for September, I’ve overhauled the rewards for the Patreon that supports City of Roses!

Patreon!

(Mumblety-mumble decades out of school, and I still think of September as the beginning of the year.)

—Patreon has been invaluable in supporting the work I’ve been doing on volume three, easily covering the printing costs of the ’zines, and supplementing (or even covering) a grocery run in those not-nearly-so-occasional-as-I’d-like tight months. I can safely say that without my Patreon patrons, this wouldn’t be here now:

8 of 11.

Eight issues done, three to go, and a great deal of thanks to my patrons.

But! I need more! (And my valiant patrons need a bit of a break.) —The production of volume three looms, and will require quite a lot of work, not all of it mine, and a chunk of money to complete. So: I’ve simplified and streamlined the City of Roses Patreon reward tiers, in the hopes of enticing you (yes, you) to join my One Dollar Party.

$1 a month.

A pledge of $1 a month gives you access to the behind-the-scenes blog: at least one post a month, offering sneak peeks at upcoming installments, scenes cut for space or time or change of focus, the (very) occasional anguished musing, and cover candidates (like this one, which I’ve made public.)

$2 a month.

A pledge of $2 a month gets you an ebook of each installment as it’s finished, (at least) a month before it appears here, for free—and you’ll also get ebooks of the collections as they’re completed. (Ebooks delivered in EPUB, MOBI, and PDF formats.)

$4 a month.

And a pledge of $4 a month will get you paper copies of each installment, hand-stuffed in envelopes with handwritten notes by Your Author—and also paper copies of each collection, as they’re completed.

And finally, there’s the Key to the City:

$20 a month.

—but there’s only six of those left.

So! Take a moment. Give it some thought. Join if you’re able. Spread the word. And thanks, again.

Patreon.

—posted 86 days ago


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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of police.

Imagine, a few decades after the big changes, say, in the 2090s, when ordinary people have access to nanotech (the way today every fourth or fifth homeless guy wears a Walkman with sound quality that would have blasted a 1950s “Hi-Fi” enthusiast right out of his rumpus room). Suppose you could carry in a toothpaste tube the nanotech stuff to build a pretty decent one or two room house out of whatever junk happened to be lying around. And suppose that, after you were finished with it, the stuff went back into the toothpaste tube of its own accord so that you could use it again. Press, squeeze, and you’re a little less homeless—at least for the night. As ever, though, I imagine the police will still come by early in the morning with toothpaste tubes of their own, full of foam specially programmed to disassemble the hastily constructed shelters back into junk; and the again-homeless will be told to move on.

Samuel R. Delany

—posted 111 days ago


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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of tradition.

I have, however, since entering the field, restricted the meaning I attach to the term “patriarchy.” For many, it is synonymous with “the subordination of women.” It carries this meaning for me, too, but with this qualification: I add the words “here and now.” This makes a big difference. When I hear it said, as I often do, that “patriarchy has changed between the stone age and the present,” I know that it is not “my” patriarchy that is being talked about. What I study is not an ahistoric concept that has wandered down through the centuries but something peculiar to contemporary industrial societies. I do not believe in the theory of survivals—and here I am in agreement with other Marxists. An institution that exists today cannot be explained by the fact that it existed in the past, even if this past is recent. I do not deny that certain elements of patriarchy today resemble elements of the patriarchy of one or two hundred years ago; what I deny is that this continuance—insofar as it really concerns the same thing—in itself constitutes an explanation.

Many people think that when they have found the point of origin of an institution in the past, they hold the key to its present existence. But they have, in fact, explained neither its present existence nor even its birth (its past appearance), for one must explain its existence at each and every moment by the context prevailing at that time; and its persistence today (if really is persistence) must be explained by the present context. Some so-called historical explanations are in fact ahistorical, precisely because they do not take account of the given conditions of each period. This is not History but mere dating. History is precious if it is well conducted, if each period is examined in the same way as the present period. A science of the past worthy of the name cannot be anything other than a series of synchronic analyses.

The search for origins is a caricature of this falsely historical procedures and is one of the reasons why I have denounced it, and why I shall continue to denounce it each and every time it surfaces—which is, alas, far too frequently. (The other reason why I denounce the search for origins is the use of its hidden naturalistic presuppositions.) But from the scientific point of view, it is as illegitimate to seek keys to the present situation in the nineteenth century as in the Stone Age.

Since 1970, then, I have been saying that patriarchy is the system of subordination of women to men in contemporary industrial societies, that this system has an economic base, and that this base is the domestic mode of production. It is hardly worth saying that these three ideas have been, and remain, highly controversial.

Christine Delphy

—posted 127 days ago


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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of phantasy.

Psycho-analysis divides people into two types—introverted and extraverted. Introversion represents error in man, a straying away from reality into self, a going of the mind into mind. Both psycho-analysis and criticism agree that this process cannot, or rather should not produce art. Both processes, or their possibility, exist in each individual (psycho-analysis is forced to admit that introversion always exists; extraversion exists if the individual is “successful”). They may, it is held, be combined in phantasy; and phantasy produces “living reality,” art. But what is this phantasy but the whole introversive world of man behaving extraversively—the collective-real? Unless it is introversion actually transformed in the individual into extraversion, individual mind into matter of “more than individual use” (as Mr. Read defines creative phantasies)—the individual-real? The opposition between collective-real and individual-real disappears in the general agreement between all parties that, by no matter what method, introversion must be extraverted. Likewise the opposition between romanticism and classicism: romanticism is acceptable if it has an extraverted, classical touch; classicism is not necessarily damaged by an introverted, romantic touch, so long as it does not lose complete hold of extraversion.

Laura (Riding) Jackson

—posted 134 days ago


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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of rhythm.

Rhythm is that property of a sequence of events in time which produces on the mind of the observer the impression of proportion between the duration of several events or groups of events of which the sequence is composed.

Edward Adolf Sonnenschein

—posted 143 days ago


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