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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 legitimacy.

These constraints naturally change a writer’s view of her talent. Perhaps you think of something no one has done before, a hundred things that no one has done before, you leap up and down hugging yourself and howling with laughter. You can’t naïvely assume you’re exceptional. There may be a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand writers seeing the same possibilities—they will all be told No Publisher Will Allow, they will all be invisible, and so you can’t know how many might be jumping up and down at this very moment.

Helen DeWitt

—posted 105 days ago


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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of wellness.

Heather and Elsa consider good sex necessary for the revolution. It’s a vital tool, they say, for combating burnout, maintaining healthfulness, and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with regard to social change and how we interact as humans.

“So many people on the political left—we’ve been traumatized, which is why we typically wind up at our ideology,” Elsa explains. “I think sex is good for your health. I think if you’re someone who is interested in sex—and I understand that not everyone is—but if you are, sex is part of self-care. They tell you that you can’t do no fightin unless you are well. Sex is a part of that good health picture.”

Mariella Mosthof

—posted 113 days ago


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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of vulnerability.

Welcome to F--ryland places the man caught performing oral sex on another man, for example, alongside the trousered lesbian, the female and male impersonator, the mannish woman, the sex worker, the brothel-visiting slummer, the woman donning a scandalous two-piece bathing suit, the thrill-seeking tourist, the interracial and intergenerational couple, the surveilled migrant and immigrant, and the vagrant, hobo, and transient. Put another way, this book views them as queer, too, even if they might not have seen or labeled themselves as such.

Julio Capó, Jr.

—posted 121 days ago


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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of ecstasy.

DAVID FROST
You once said you respected both atheists and religious people, but not agnostics.

ORSON WELLES
That’s right.

FROST
Because an agnostic says he doesn’t know and you’ve got to decide one way or the other?

WELLES
I think you should, because the question is are you a religious man or not? I don’t think there’s a good way of living in the world unless you are one of the two. You make a decision that you are a religious man, which is more important actually than a personal God, or you must make the tragic decision that we are totally alone in an indifferent universe. The true atheist belief is a noble and splendid position to take, one requiring great courage and great character. Or you must be a religious man. The fellow who doesn’t do either is copping out in both directions.

FROST
And you made the decision to be a religious man?

WELLES
Tune in next week and you will hear Welles on that subject on a very small station. You know that I hate to hear people talking about God, unless they have a vocation for talking about it.

FROST
But on the other hand, you said how important it is to make a decision.

WELLES
But I don’t have to inform our listeners and viewers about it. It’s not because I don’t want to tell you my views, but I think the minute you start on that there is a whiff of preaching, and I’m very allergic to that. I’m also embarrassed by expressions of religion in the movies. I hate it when people pray on the screen. It’s not because I hate praying, but whenever I see an actor fold his hands and look up in the spotlight, I’m lost. There’s only one other thing in the movies I hate as much, and I really can’t say it. But they’re doing it all the time in movies, and that’s sex. You just can’t get in bed or pray to God and convince me on the screen!

FROST
I hesitate to draw any conclusions from that, but is that an indication of the limitations of movies? Loving and praying are two of the most important things in the world. Why can’t you do them in the movies?

WELLES
Because they are both ecstatic. They are conditions of ecstasy, and I think that is not to be communicated by a couple of people, or one person, or any combinations there of, unless it’s actually happening, in which case it belongs in a monastery or in a bordello. Ecstasy is really not part of the thing we can do on celluloid. Any kind of thing that gets up to that pitch of human experience.

—posted 131 days ago


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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of glory.

Señor Unamuno has made his great protest in this sense.

They say that thy biography, my lord Don Quixote, was written to amuse, and to cure us of the folly of heroism; and they add that the fun-maker achieved his object. Thy name has come to be, for many, another name for mockery, a hocus-pocus to exorcize heroisms and belittle grandeurs. We shall not recover our manliness of yore until we resent the hoax in good earnest and play the Quixote with the greatest seriousness and uncompromisingly.

Most readers of they story, sublime madman, laugh at it; but they cannot profit by its spiritual content until they mourn over it…. In that jocular volume is the saddest story ever written; the saddest, yes, but the most consoling to those who can enjoy, through tears of delight, redemption from the wretched practicality to which our present mode of life condemns us.

No mockery of the human spirit, however irrational that spirit may be, ever survives the hour of its expression. Don Quixote was not a mockery, but an affirmation of chivalry and honor. Cervantes himself had no illusions left at the end of a hard life, but he knew that the sentiment of glory was no illusion, that nothing worthy was ever done that was not done for the sake of glory. But such an interpretation of Cervantes is not the obvious one; and what we will call a facile quixotism has prevailed, many fools facetiously mouthing phrases like “fair damsel in distress,” “the goodly Knight that pricketh on the plain,” and so on, for the few graceful spirits that penetrate this perverse screen of mockery to the great morality underlying it.

Herbert Read

—posted 139 days ago


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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of it.

And if it always disappoints, it’s not because we always expect too much of it but because we expect it where it actually isn’t, because it’s never where we expect it to be, because it can only be grasped in its own drift or constitutive gap. We always want it to be in its rightful place but that place is precisely where it’s not, precisely where it’s lacking. We would like it to be here, in front of us, in the flesh. But it’s in that very immediacy or fullness that it steals away and goes missing. Which doesn’t mean that it has in some way disappeared; rather, this absence or this lack is the key to its mystery, the secret of its functioning. This is why we should follow it, why we should surrender to its drift and get caught up in that gap, that shift in being which is also a shift in meaning: in fact the drift of meaning and being itself, being and meaning as drift. As for literature, it’s a matter of understanding how it arises from this release, from this letting go; it traces and spins the real in its drift. It always seeks to find the real where it isn’t, since this is the only place where it’s likely to find it.

Miguel de Beistegui

—posted 147 days ago


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

Fantasy is reality. Aristotle says that music is the most realistic of the arts because it represents the movements of the soul directly. Surely the mode of fantasy (which includes many genres and effects) is the only way in which some realities can be treated.

I grew up in United States in the 1950s, in a world in which fantasy was supposed to be the opposite of reality. “Rational,” “mature” people were concerned only with a narrowly defined “reality” and only the “immature” or the “neurotic” (all-purpose put-downs) had any truck with fantasy, which was then considered to be wishful thinking, escapism, and other bad things, attractive only to the weak and damaged. Only Communists, feminists, homosexuals and other deviants were unsatisfied with Things As They Were at the time and Heaven help you if you were one of those.

I took to fantasy like a duckling to water. Unfortunately for me, there was nobody around then to tell me that fantasy was the most realistic of arts, expressing as it does the contents of the human soul directly.

Joanna Russ

—posted 155 days ago


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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of how to write.

What? You think these rules are harsh and arbitrary? These are the very Laws of Fiction! Writing works if and only if you follow these edicts to the letter. This is a scientifically proven factoid. These are epistemic, alethic, deontic and boulomaic absolutes. Not just truths, but Troths. There is no questioning them. There is no wiggle room. Because they are writ into the very fabric of reality—not the fabric of society, which is wrought of socionormative contingencies and subjectivities, and an ugly plaid, not even a nice subtle tartan, but a hideous lurid golf plaid, and therefore deserves to be destroyed… no, not the fabric of society, but the very fabric of the spacetime continuum itself. These are How Writing Works.

You doubt me? Very well then. Let me set forth the wisdom of the rules, that you may weep in awe at their correctitude, and know in your hearts that lest you follow them to the letter you will fail.

THE…. Sodomite Hal Duncan!! (sic)

—posted 163 days ago


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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of sensawunda.

I want to be surprised by science fiction. Always. I want to be surprised by everything I read, but science fiction and fantasy more than most kinds of fiction seem to offer such a promise, only to all too often snatch it away at the last moment. Having acknowledged that need, that desire, for metaphor, the sense of wonder, even the barest nod to the sublime, this seems to provide a starting point for how I might write about science fiction and fantasy literature in the future.

Maureen K. Speller

—posted 173 days ago


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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of the visible world.

Decorating, covering, uncovering or otherwise altering the human form in accordance with social notions of everyday propriety or sacred dress, beauty or solemnity, status or changes in status, or on occasion of the violation and inversion of such notions, seems to have been a concern of every human society of which we have knowledge. This objectively universal fact is associated with another of a more subjective nature—that the surface of the body seems everywhere to be treated, not only as the boundary of the individual as a biological and psychological entity but as the frontier of the social self as well. As these two entities are quite different, and as cultures differ widely in the ways they define both, the relation between them is highly problematic. The problems involved, however, are ones that all societies must solve in one way or another, because upon the solution must rest a society’s ways of “socialising” individuals, that is, of integrating them into the societies to which they belong, not only as children but throughout their lives. The surface of the body, as the common frontier of society, the social self, and the psycho-biological individual; becomes the symbolic stage upon which the drama of socialization is enacted, and bodily adornment (in all its culturally multifarious forms, from body-painting to clothing and from feather head-dresses to cosmetics) becomes the language through which it is expressed.

Terence S. Turner

—posted 181 days ago


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