Links: Sundry articles

Some things I have read recently and enjoyed deeply. Any bold emphasis in the quotes is my addition.

Ursula Le Guin Has Stopped Writing Fiction — But We Need Her More Than Ever – “Books aren’t just commodities; the profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable—so did the divine right of kings.”

New Words Were Needed – “Another translation of ostranenie I occasionally find is “alienation,” making the familiar alien, which brings us to science fiction. Whereas modernists tend to defamiliarize at the level of the image, line, or sentence, sf writers have been in the business of defamiliarizing at the level of story since the very beginning.”

1194384Why women are leading the death positive movement – “It was not only important to us to amplify the voices of those actively creating the future of death, but also address the issues many women are facing who are confronted with the reality of ‘bad deaths’ such as femicide, victims of police brutality, reproductive rights and so much more.”

(Note: Talk to me more about women and death. Talk to me of the women who lay hands on the dead and bring them to their rest. Talk to me about the feminization of an industry being intrinsically coupled with its denigration. Talk to me about women and  our physical reality, women and bodies, women being forced to reckon with their bodies in ways that men are not, women taking that to a career that makes death familiar. Talk to me about women.)

Every Body Goes Haywire – “A migraine attack blurs the distinction between “sickness” and “health.” Headache, dizziness, nausea, trouble concentrating, fatigue, poor verbal skills—these symptoms could just as easily result from a hangover or a bad night’s sleep. That the same symptoms can result from irresponsible decisions gives patients an air of culpability.”

The Identity Politics of Whiteness – “These voters suffer from economic disadvantages even as they enjoy racial advantages. But it is impossible for them to notice these racial advantages if they live in rural areas where everyone around them is white. What they perceive instead is the cruel sense of being forgotten by the political class and condescended to by the cultural one.”

The Case Against Reality – “In contrast, you’re saying, Look, quantum mechanics is telling us that we have to question the very notions of ‘physical things’ sitting in ‘space.’”

Today: How to Survive an Anti-Feminist Backlash -“By underestimating the damage that Trump’s extremist right-wing movement is prepared to do to women’s rights, we all but ensure that damage will occur. We can’t relax, and we can’t assume that everything (or anything) will work out.”

A slow art

SICHA: I meet a lot of people in their twenties, and they’re concerned. They want to get published, and I think, “Well, hopefully you’re going to live a little while. Don’t walk in front of any trucks.”

LE GUIN: I don’t think most people write very good narrative prose until they’re in their later twenties. Writing is a slow art. Music can be such a fast and early art. A good musician can be just terrific at 16. But how many writers are there … I mean, even Keats is still blundering around at 16. By his early twenties, of course, he’s writing immortal poetry, but there aren’t a lot of Keatses, really. There’s where you get “gift” to a degree that it’s kind of like a miracle. You can’t use the Keatses to talk about writing as a craft or an art or a practice or a profession. The geniuses—they’re off there, doing their lovely thing.

SICHA: They mess up the scale for the rest of us.

LE GUIN: That’s okay. You just have to realize you’re not going to get there, but so what? You can still do beautiful work.

SICHA: There’s room for plenty of people.

Choire Sicha interviewed Ursula K. Le Guin

The long game is no fun. I want instant gratification!!

I don’t like to call things ‘resolutions’ because of connotations around the word (so tightly paired with inevitable failure) but obviously that’s the right word for: This is the year I get over my weird reluctance to pursue the sort of traditional avenues of improving writing. It’s a talent, but it’s a craft. There’s a certain amount you can learn from doing the thing, and there’s some you can learn from talking to others who are doing the thing. But I guess I admit that there’s gotta be more to learn from the right ‘traditional’ sources (i.e., ones that aren’t trying to nudge me into writing rainwater-in-an-ashtray literary fiction. I’m fine with a certain amount of that, but for god’s sake, give me magic too).

So I’ve got this list of books to read. Some of ’em will be disappointing; some’ll be great, I hope. We’ll see what else might happen.