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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 sibilance.

It is interesting to note that the entities most usually described as “hissing,” in the early modern period as also today, are devils, serpents, and audiences.

Marjorie Garber

—posted 566 days ago

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On a dime.

So back at the beginning of October, I’d had maybe 5,000 words left to draft in no. 32, give or take, assuming an 18,000-word draft, on average: an expository acrostic to solve, and three more scenes, or four, depending, and I’d‘ve been done with the draft, and then the cutting and trimming, the buff and polish. But then, not quite four weeks later, I went and threw it all away.

(Well. Not “threw.” And not “away.” But still.)

So three weeks after that, I was right back where I’d been before, but reordered, rewritten, rejiggered, and a thousand words leaner and meaner, the expository acrostic deftly knotted up, and three scenes for certain left to write, on a somewhat firmer footing: IKEA, and not KIND bars, so Allen wrenches and Uber, and maybe one or two too many of those neatly rhyming Alan Moore transitions, that feel so good to write, but clunk a little too obviously later, when read back. But! So close, so close: I swear, it’s like pulling teeth, but when you’re pulling teeth at least when you’re done you have this handful of, well, teeth.

That was just before Thanksgiving, and now (or two weeks ago now), at the turn of the year? —19,099 read the ticker, when I tapped the last period and pushed back the keyboard.

So that’s a draft, and fifteen hundred words or so to cut. And I should probably figure out the ending of this one for real, yes yes.

A whole year later than I wanted, and even that want was late, but let’s not dwell on how we shouldn’t dwell on that.

Only one more episode to go, then, before the end of volume three, which means there’s all those decisions to finalize, reconfiguring the old paperbacks for a new, non-Amazon printer, and prepping the new; and I probably should dwell more on that.

I’ve been lighting a candle, now, when I wake up, or am woken by the cats, I should say. —I light a candle, watch the match burn down to my fingertips, and then I draw a single card; I’m currently using the Bad Girl Tarot, for reasons. Yesterday’s was the Magician, which, well, okay; today’s, as I sat down to write this post and then start setting the software up for the editing pass, today’s was the Eight of Swords, reversed:

Eight of Swords, Reversed.

A bit too on-the-nose, whoever it is you are.

—posted 571 days ago

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(Originally posted on the Patreon.)

Things to keep in mind:
The secret of reversals.

After twelve years of marriage, Wheeler had a f--ry-tale-like reversal of fortune and escaped in high style. She and her daughters snuck off to the coast and her brother sailed them to Guernsey. Her uncle, who was the island’s governor, lived in splendor in the gubernatorial mansion. He retained a French governess and teachers who taught his niece along with her daughters, and he introduced her to dukes, diplomats, and European émigrés. Charmed by her intelligence, they helped her cultivate the arts of repartee and debate. One duke, a cousin of the future king of France, courted her for twelve years, ignoring the fact that she was still married (until the death of Massey in 1820). It didn’t hurt Anna’s cause that she had matured into a beauty, with pale skin, gently curled chestnut hair, grey-blue eyes, an aquiline nose, and a mouth that was, according to her uncharacteristically complimentary daughter, “the most beautiful I ever saw, teeth dazzling as a row of oriental pearls; her smile most enchanting. Anna’s voice was low and sweet,” wrote Rosina, “the most excellent thing in women.”

After Anna’s uncle returned to England, she left the island, too. One of her son-in-law’s biographers—Rosina married the bestselling novelist and politician Edward Bulwer, Lord Lytton—says that when she left, nearly everyone on Guernsey gathered on the beach to say goodbye. She moved to Caen, France, where she became, according to her grandson, “the bel esprit of a little group of socialists and freethinkers, to the support of whose doctrines she devoted both her purse and her pen.” These were the Saint-Simonistes, named after Claude-Henri de Rouvroy, Comte de Saint-Simon, a French aristocrat turned philosopher who proposed the formation of collectivist communities of industrial workers; his followers later developed a strain of eroticism (evident in Saint-Simon’s writings) that landed many of them in jail.

Trading Caen for London, Wheeler became a friend and correspondent of Robert Owen, the founder of Co-operativism, the leading British socialist movement at the time. Co-operators, also known as Owenites, were dismayed by the combined ravages of industrialization and increasing inequality, and envisioned a classless, communitarian world. This would be brought about, initially, by communities of mutual association, voluntary and democratically-governed settlements in which the fruits of all labor would be distributed to laborers (think: early kibbutzes). When industrial workers realized the advantages of self-sufficiency, Owenites reasoned, they’d abandon the factories and, with them, industrial capitalism. They’d also become happier and more benevolent, thus proving one of Owenism’s central tenets, that human character was formed by circumstance, not nature—a belief that made Owenism particularly appealing to women.

Judith Shulevitz

—posted 664 days ago

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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of representation.

But to leave our Playes, and return to theirs, I have noted one great advantage they have had in the Plotting of their Tragedies; that is, they are always grounded upon some known History: accarding to that of Horace, Ex noto fictum carmen sequar; and in that they have so imitated the Ancients that they have supass’d them. For the Ancients, as was observ’d before, took for the foundation of their Playes some Poetical Fiction, such as under that consideration could move but little concernment in the Audience, because they already knew the event of it. But the French goes farther;

Atque ita mentitur; sic veris falsæ remiscet,
Primo ne medium, medio ne discrepet imum:

He so interweaves Truth with probable Fiction, that he puts a pleasing Fallacy upon us; mends the intrigues of Fate, and dispenses with the severity of History, to reward that vertue which has been rendred to us there unfortunate. Sometimes the story has left the sucess so doubtful, that the Writer is free, by the priviledge of a Poet, to take that which of two or more relations will best sute with his design: As for example, the death of Cyrus, whom Justin and some others report to have perish’d in the Scythian war, but Xenophon affirms to have died in his bed of extream old age. Nay more, when the event is past dispute, even then we are willing to be deceiv’d, and the Poet, if he contrives it with appearance of truth; has all the audience of his Party; at least during the time his Play is acting: so naturally we are kind to vertue, when our own interest is not in question, that we take it up as the general concernment of Mankind. On the other side, if you consider the Historical Playes of Shakespeare, they are rather so many Chronicles of Kings, or the business many times of thirty or forty years, crampt into a representation of two hours and a half, which is not to imitate or paint Nature, but rather to draw her in miniature, to take her in little; to look upon her through the wrong end of a Perspective, and receive her Images not onely much less, but infinitely more imperfect then the life: this instead of making a Play delightful, renders it ridiculous.

Quodcunque ostendis mihi sic, incredulus odi.

For the Spirit of man cannot be satisfied but with truth, or at least verisimility; and a Poem is to contain, if not τα ετυμα, yet ετυμοισιν ομοια, as one of the Greek Poets has expres’d it.

John Dryden, Esq.

—posted 674 days ago

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

When I say feminine album, immediately the perception is that it must be soft and lovely, but I mean feminine in the violent sense. Desiring, but not being able to define your desire, wanting power but being powerless and blaming it on yourself, or just hurting yourself as a way to let out the aggression in you. It’s a lot of pent-up anger or desire without a socially acceptable outlet.

Mitski Miyawaki

—posted 682 days ago

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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of stupidity.

A pedal voice—“…stupid, stupid, stupid…”—that had begun sometime in unremembered childhood whenever he’d been asked questions he couldn’t answer, that had continued whenever he’d been asked questions he couldn’t answer, that had continued whenever he’d been asked questions he’d had to answer “no,” and that had finally come whenever he’d been asked any questions at all or even had to ask them, suddenly became audible. A tiny voice, still it had insisted as relentlessly (and as unobtrusively) as his own heartbeat, at least since the man in a circular desk had told him to say, ”Yes.”

But the reason he heard it at all, now, was because another voice, which felt and sounded and settled in his mind as if it were his own (but had to have come from somewhere else), suddenly took that small voice up and declared: “…stupid,” on the beat, and then went on, off the beat and overwhelming it: “stupidity: a process, not a state. A human being takes in far more information than he or she can put out. ‘Stupidity’ is a process or strategy by which a human, in response to social denigration of the information she or he puts out, commits him- or herself to taking in no more information than she or he can put out. (Not to be confused with ignorance, or lack of data.) Since such a situation is impossible to achieve because of the nature of mind/perception itself in its relation to the functioning body, a continuing downward spiral of functionality and/or information dissemination results,” and he understood why! “The process, however, can be reversed,” the voice continued, “at any time…”

Samuel R. Delany

—posted 690 days ago

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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of the good guys.

Stories about good guys and bad guys that are implicitly moral—in the sense that they invest an individual’s entire social identity in him not changing his mind about a moral issue—perversely end up discouraging any moral deliberation. Instead of anguishing over multidimensional characters in conflict—as we find in the Iliad, or the Mahabharata or Hamlet—such stories rigidly categorise people according to the values they symbolise, flattening all the deliberation and imagination of ethical action into a single thumbs up or thumbs down. Either a person is acceptable for Team Good, or he belongs to Team Evil.

Good guy/bad guy narratives might not possess any moral sophistication, but they do promote social stability, and they’re useful for getting people to sign up for armies and fight in wars with other nations. Their values feel like morality, and the association with folklore and mythology lends them a patina of legitimacy, but still, they don’t arise from a moral vision. They are rooted instead in a political vision, which is why they don’t help us deliberate, or think more deeply about the meanings of our actions. Like the original Grimm stories, they’re a political tool designed to bind nations together.

It’s no coincidence that good guy/bad guy movies, comic books and games have large, impassioned and volatile fandoms—even the word “fandom” suggests the idea of a nation, or kingdom. What’s more, the moral physics of these stories about superheroes fighting the good fight, or battling to save the world, does not commend genuine empowerment. The one thing the good guys teach us is that people on the other team aren’t like us. In fact, they’re so bad, and the stakes are so high, that we have to forgive every transgression by our own team in order to win.

Catherine Nichols

—posted 698 days ago

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

Take the plunge: an ethics of engagement. One that contains, among its tics and dispositions, political tendencies that are anything but spontaneist in the way the word is thrown around to mean anything goes and nothing really matters. For speculative pragmatism, anything potentially goes. But precisely because of that, every little thing matters—more than we can ever know in advance. Everything matters; but everything also matters on, following the singular trail of potential’s unfolding. To prove equal to the import, to follow the trail of the mattering-on, to honor the potential of the process, it is necessary to participate with great pragmatic and speculative care—and just as much artfulness. There is by the nature of this activity a political element to it. The art of mutual inclusion, with care: that could stand as the very definition of the political.

Brian Massumi

—posted 706 days ago

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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of perfusion.

It seems a strange thing, when one comes to ponder over it, that a sign should leave its interpreter to supply part of its meaning; but the explanation of the phenomenon lies in the fact that the entire universe—not merely the universe of existents, but all that wider universe, embracing the universe of existents as a part, the universe which we are all accustomed to refer to as “the truth”—that all this universe is perfused with signs, if it is not composed exclusively of signs.

Charles S. Peirce

—posted 716 days ago

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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of zettai ryōiki.

Is not the most erotic portion of a body where the garment gapes? In perversion (which is the realm of textual pleasure) there are no “erogenous zones” (a foolish expression, besides); it is intermittence, as psychoanalysis has so rightly stated, which is erotic: the intermittence of skin flashing between two articles of clothing (trousers and sweater), between two edges (the open-necked shirt, the glove, and the sleeve); it is this flash itself which seduces, or rather: the staging of an appearance-as-disappearance.

Roland Barthes

—posted 724 days ago

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