Apr. 25th, 2007 04:02 pm
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New Samuel R. Delany book, Dark Reflections! It is as good as it gets. So amazingly well-crafted. So beautiful and full of lyric power, anxiety, alienation, transient tarnished beauty. The whole thing resonates. Imagine a mirrored and/or parallax, fictional autobiography of an artist. The level of work is so incredibly high here that it's hard to breathe. Also, his most approachable work for non-genre readers (those people suck! but what are ya gonna do). Totally rewarding to people who've read lots of his books (and I count myself as someone whose read several, but not "lots" yet). You see themes and characters emerge and you feel like you're seeing "oh this. this is where they came from!" and then you feel all telescoped because you realize you're not reading an actual biography, yet perhaps you are? Like some of the characters feel like the source material for his fiction characters. Or perhaps he's taken stock of his own life and what it might have been like if he'd made different choices in these kinds of encounters all along the way. What if what if what if. The whole book is incredible speculative fiction, in its way. If an artist has specialized in speculative and scientific fiction his whole life, and has humanized and made meaning of sensations of alienation between characters and their worlds...what does it feel like to be alienated from one's self? What if a novelist had stayed a poet instead? What if a self could not embrace itself but was still the same? Who was in the mirror the first time I looked and if I blink would a lifetime pass that was my own and not my own? This book should be read by anyone who wants to be a writer, and should be read by any fans of Delany's other work, and should eventually be read by everyone. Someone call Oprah, dammit! This is exactly the kind of writer she should be lifting up (certainly not some of the frauds and miscreants she's been pushing).
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Kurt Vonnegut deserved to live a long life. Perhaps most of us, myself included, didn't deserve to have as much of him as we did for as long as we did. His madness and cynical joyful genius continue to inspire. He was really really important and we're going to miss him.
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RW Emerson was a tremendous thinker. He hated quotes, but here's some that moved me today:

"Conservatism makes no poetry, breathes no prayer, has no invention; it is all memory. Reform has no gratitude, no prudence, no husbandry."

"Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood."

"Things are in the saddle and ride mankind." (this accords quite neatly with Luther, btw)

"When Nature has work to be done, she creates a genius to do it."

"What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not been discovered."

"There are always two parties; the establishment and the movement."

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesman and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do."

"Let us treat men and women well; treat them as if they were real. Perhaps they are."
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Despite all my years of resisting it, I have lately begun— for the first time— to actually explore Derrida & Deconstruction theory and I feel like I'm gaining a sense of understanding it intuitively. I feel like it could actually be a very useful methodology of approaching texts and that it's not as resolutely evil as so many people (a number of my critical heroes, in fact) make it out to be. I've been working on this journal entry a while in private and finally get it going today. You may find it insufferably boring so I'm hiding it behind this cut: a little deconstruction for fun and frolic )
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Holy crap, Pinter just won the Nobel Prize!!


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