“Writing is work. It’s also gambling. Technique alone is never enough. Be without fear. Too much fear and all you’ll get is silence. You have to have passion. To hell with facts! It doesn’t matter how “real” your story is, or how “made up”: what matters is its necessity. We tell stories in order to live. The thing that’s important to me is that you never know. You’re always sort of feeling your way. There is no truth. There is only perception. Stare. It is the only way to educate your eye. And if there are no jobs at the end of it, that’s not necessarily a reason not to do it.”—
Found text from Howie Good’s editor’s note for issue 70 of Right Hand Pointing.
The people I liked were those who were able to do something with nothing – painters, writers and photographers. I looked into photography early on and I saw that there were sports photographers who needed an Olympian, fashion photographers who needed a model and war photographers who needed a war.
Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank and Riboud and those guys – they didn’t need anything; they would just look out the window or go to the garden. In other words, the everyday life situation became a gold mine for these artists, and I gravitated towards the fact that you could take something right next to you and turn it into art or communication. I liked the integrity of journalism but I was always interested in photographs. Photographs didn’t have to communicate a great concept, they could just be
“How are we to speak of these ‘common things’, how to track them down rather, flush them out, wrest them from the dross in which they remain mired, how to give them a meaning, a tongue, to let them, finally, speak of what is, of what are. What’s needed perhaps is finally to found our own anthropology, one that will speak about us, will look in ourselves for what for so long we’ve been pillaging from others. Not the exotic any more, but the endotic.”—
“You must know everything well before you can know what to discard. You must cover pages with material you will not finally put into the book. That doesn’t mean you don’t use it. It is still there, must be there, an invisible foundation which gives authority to the story. The planning done on setting is never wasted. Nothing is ever wasted. If it has been thought through and written, it is still there, in every word which does not mention it.”—Dorothy Bryant, on the drafting of fiction (via strangelikeness)
“Now, email is a pot constantly boiling over. Like King Sisyphus pushing his boulder, we read, respond, delete, delete, delete, only to find that even more messages have arrived whilst we were pruning. A whole time management industry has erupted around email, urging us to check only once or twice a day, to avoid checking email first thing in the morning, and so forth. Even if such techniques work, the idea that managing the communication for a job now requires its own self-help literature reeks of a foul new anguish”—
“EBooks are perhaps inescapable, but if we understand the primitive response we have in the experience of a tangible book, the possession and proprietary nature of owning it, then we can translate that over to the digital format and make it better. And vice versa. EBooks will not improve with technological advances alone, just like physical books will not diminish; they each need to look to each other to move forwards. But it should be a careful, considered process.”—The DO Blog - Blog - James Bridle
We all want something from these networks of technologies. In a strange way, we all depend on one another. Igor needs the bots. The bots need Igor. I need Igor and the bots and Olivia. Twitter needs all of us, though they claim in regulatory filings that only five percent of their accounts are fake, based on an internal review. (It should be noted: the spambot problem definitely used to be worse.)
And yet, despite all of our connections and interdependencies, the logic of the bots remains mysterious to human beings.
“When they lapse into consciousness, they are possessed as Nietzsche was when he wrote “No artist tolerates reality.” Those who are awake, if only momentarily, are the artists. And by artists, I mean these writers who feel and tinker until they’ve given form to something that exists within the bandwidth of reality but resists humdrum conventionality. Of course, it’s akin to the famed tell it slant. But more than that, they’re telling it like it ain’t, not keeping it real.”—Kevin Simmonds | Poem of the Week: Joseph Whitt | the the poetry blog
“Ruiu posited another theory that sounds like something from the screenplay of a post-apocalyptic movie: “badBIOS,” as Ruiu dubbed the malware, has the ability to use high-frequency transmissions passed between computer speakers and microphones to bridge airgaps.”—
I stopped worrying about viruses so much when I first made a shift to using Macs exclusively in my set up (yes, there was a time when I was a PC user. I was actually pretty anti-Mac until mid 2007…)
That’s not to say I don’t pay attention to viruses. It’s good form as a computer user to take general precautions, even when you pretty much exclusively use an OS that suffers far fewer viral attacks than most. But computer viruses have always fascinated me. Viruses in general— something about the idea of small organisms operating on the basis of their own natural drive to thrive in a way that can almost seem like organised intelligence. And the fact that a computer can be infected with something that seems so… organic. Intriguing.
This one’s been added to my file of source material for tech related poems.
“Well, the process is really what you have to do day in and day out to be successful,” he said. “We try to define the standard that we want everybody to sort of work toward, adhere to, and do it on a consistent basis. And the things that I talked about before, being responsible for your own self-determination, having a positive attitude, having great work ethic, having discipline to be able to execute on a consistent basis, whatever it is you’re trying to do, those are the things that we try to focus on, and we don’t try to focus as much on the outcomes as we do on being all that you can be.
“Eliminate the clutter and all the things that are going on outside and focus on the things that you can control with how you sort of go about and take care of your business. That’s something that’s ongoing, and it can never change.”
When I was 16, my mother took me to Guyana for a month. I’ve written about the experience in a couple of poems, and I’ve told the story on more than one occasion as a moment of epiphany for me; I came back from Guyana with a different perspective on the life I was living in London. And I don’t mean to push a simplistic argument of privilege and lack of, but I will say I took less for granted. It is perhaps a characteristic of the human condition, that we settle into norms and subsequently become blind to them. I left as a city kid, dependent on 24-hour convenience stores, constant, uninterrupted power and running water in every tap. I came back aware of the fact that things could be different.
I’m no environmentalist. Not by a long chalk. But I know that there’s a price to be paid for the modern conveniences we surround ourselves with, and that’s more than the RRP. The ocean Ivan Macfadyen describes sounds like something from a dystopian sci-fi narrative. Except that it’s a reality.
Maybe it’s the kind of reality that more of us need to experience, to live with for a period of time, in order for any kind of understanding or desire to do something different.
“I work in digital publishing and I love what I do. Yet for fun, I “play videogames” as much as I “read books.” This still carries a stigma, as if I’m wasting my time with idle pursuits instead of bettering myself through literature. The fact is, a lot of the books I read are kinda trashy, but most of the games I play are pretty good. I like to play videogames and read books, but more than that, I like to play videogames that are like books.”—
“One day you are putting numbers into spreadsheet cells, and the next those numbers feed into budgets, and the budgets turn into requests to Human Resources, which turn into postings on Stack Overflow and requests to outsourcing placement firms in Estonia or Mumbai, and these turn into human beings doing things, sometimes in Offices, or at home, or in home offices. Just one number in a cell in Excel, plus human beings with checkbooks, and suddenly you’ve created an absence that must be filled. Houses are sold and bought. Kids have to move from their schools and attend new schools.”—
“My theory is that the creative mind approaches task management in a way David Allen, and the developers of most GTD-related apps, never accommodated in their methodologies. In short, I believe productivity methodologies themselves only aid Resistance.”—
Yes, I’ve been known to recommend a number of different productivity tools. And yes, I’ve been known to float from system to system— not so much in search of productivity nirvana, but more trying to stay true to whichever best fit my way of thinking at that point in time. I’m currently somewhere between Things and iThoughts (which is really a mind-mapping tool, but is robust enough to manage tasks, and there’s something about the ability to a) manipulate my workload via touch and b) see how it’s all connected that I find useful right now…) - and I just found an attractive new kid on the block (Gneo) that syncs via Evernote…
At the end of the day, it’s all a matter of what works best for you. Although there’s some good general advice about managing the workload, and some general principles that we should probably all pay attention to, there is no one true path to take when it comes to getting things done.
"My uncle is skinning peaches for cobbler because I stink
like city, he says, like iron and exhaust and a girl should know
the taste of something with the sun still inside it, because when I leave
this house and go back to my mama and she breathes me in
he wants me to smell like she used to, like dirt. The peach is spurting
juice down his wrists and onto the counter. He fingers the veins in the pit,
says eat one, you’ll grow a tree inside you, your mama had one once
but she tore it up, killed it good, took you south.”
“Recognising that different language registers are used in different contexts is important. Enabling access to higher education, whilst not the only purpose of educating children, is an important one. However, I am unconvinced that listing banned words is the way forward.”—
Agreed. Awareness is key. Is banning slang the best or only way to promote an awareness of the value of different modes of language in young people? As someone who works with young people and words (mostly through poetry) I’m always pushing for the people I work with to extend their vocabulary, and to develop their sense of the most appropriate voice/language/tone for a particular task or setting. With this in mind, I appreciate the sentiment at work behind pushing those young people beyond the slang they might default to.
That said, a large part of my work in my role as educator consists of helping young people find value in their own voices, to craft and construct beautiful and/or compelling pieces of work from the things they know, to know that they, too, can have authority, that their voices have a place in the world beyond the world they call their own. Those two ideals do not exclude each other. I’d like to think that my practise is based on inclusion, rather than exclusion.
Of course, it’s always a good exercise to at least attempt to see the other side of an issue like this. While it’s not surprising that the notion of a school banning slang has met with a great deal of scorn in the (social) media, I’m reminded that there are certain editing challenges I set for some of my students that limit the use of specific vocabulary in order to push the range of their writing, and by extension how they think about the way they use language. “Try to write this piece without any adjectives… remove all abstract nouns… say whatever it is you feel needs to be said in no more than 14 lines…” and so on. Granted, the kinds of editing challenges we (teaching poets and educators) roll out key into far fewer contentious issues than a school-wide ban on a particular mode of communication, but it could be argued that there’s a common goal at work between the two different instances of enforced limitation…
“As we get older, life seems to fly by faster and faster. That’s because we structure our experience of time around memories. We remember events in relation to other events. But as we get older, and our experiences become less unique, our memories can blend together. If yesterday’s lunch is indistinguishable from the one you ate the day before, it’ll end up being forgotten. That’s why it’s so hard to remember meals. In the same way, if you’re not doing things that are unique and different and memorable, this year can come to resemble the last, and end up being just as forgettable as yesterday’s lunch. That’s why it’s so important to pack your life with interesting experiences that make your life memorable, and provide a texture to the passage of time.”—Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything: Joshua Foer: 9781594135316: Amazon.com: Books
“Everyone who dislikes your work is right. … The criticism that is useful is that which helps you do it better. … Nothing’s perfect. … You often have to choose between your ideals and your message. … You have to dig to get the gold. … Good feedback is detailed. … People who tell you you’re awesome are useless. No, dangerous. … Someone asked for feedback will always find something wrong. … Good work may not have an audience. … Any feedback that comes with suggestions for improvement is awesome. … If you agree with the criticism, say “thank you.” If you disagree, say “fair enough,” and “thank you.” … You are not your work.”—
For 500 years, knowledge was contained, in a fixed format that you believed to be a reliable version of the truth; now, moving to the post-print era, we are returning to an age when you’re as likely to hear information, right or wrong, from people you come across. Pettitt says that the way we think now is reminiscent of a medieval peasant, based on gossip, rumour and conversation. “The new world is in some ways the old world, the world before print” he says.
Dick Costolo, the CEO of Twitter, has a similar idea: “If you went back to Ancient Greece, the way that news and information was passed around was, you went to the agora after lunch in the town square. This was unfiltered, multi-directional exchange of information”.
It makes me think of this line from The Cluetrain Manifesto, one of the most influential business texts of the internet age, back in 2000: “What if the real attraction of the internet is not its cutting-edge bells and whistles, its jazzy interface, or any of the advanced technology that underlies its pipes and wires? What if, instead, the attraction is an atavistic throwback to the prehistoric human fascination with telling tales?”
Those of us who are the smiley types: we’re friendly and nice and give a good impression. And really, we can con a lot of people onto thinking we’re just terrific. Like all the time, terrific. And you should feel very grateful in your life when you come across someone who just doesn’t buy it. And all of the hidden stuff you don’t like to think about is somehow suddenly very present: your superficiality, the way you don’t quite tell the truth. They cut through your hypocrisy. You’re exposed, but you’re also free.
“We mind wander, by choice or accident, because it produces tangible reward when measured against goals and aspirations that are personally meaningful. Having to reread a line of text three times because our attention has drifted away matters very little if that attention shift has allowed us to access a key insight, a precious memory or make sense of a troubling event. Pausing to reflect in the middle of telling a story is inconsequential if that pause allows us to retrieve a distant memory that makes the story more evocative and compelling. Losing a couple of minutes because we drove past our off ramp, is a minor inconvenience if the attention lapse allowed us finally to understand why the boss was so upset by something we said in last week’s meeting. Arriving home from the store without the eggs that necessitated the trip is a mere annoyance when weighed against coming to a decision to ask for a raise, leave a job, or go back to school.”—Psychologists explore the creative benefits of mind-wandering (via explore-blog)
“Franklin tried a divide-and-conquer approach. He drew up a list of virtues and wrote a brief goal for each one, like this one for Order: ‘Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.’ … When, as a young journeyman printer, he tried to practice Order by drawing up a rigid daily work schedule, he kept getting interrupted by unexpected demands from his clients — and Industry required him to ignore the schedule and meet with them. If he practiced Frugality (‘Waste nothing’) by always mending his own clothes and preparing all his own meals, there’d be less time available for Industry at his job — or for side projects like flying a kite in a thunderstorm or editing the Declaration of Independence. If he promised to spend an evening with his friends but then fell behind his schedule for work, he’d have to make a choice that would violate his virtue of Resolution: ‘Perform without fail what you resolve.’”—
I would just like to say thank you for the talk you gave to the Singapore Nanyang Girls' group in '11. I was in the group at the time and had stopped writing because of a rejection from a writers' camp. After your encouragement to write + the encouragement from friends, I reapplied and got in last year, and since then have received much encouragement from mentors and friends. Looking back, it had a lot to do with your talk then, so thank you so much!
Congratulations on making it into the writers’ camp, and kudos for being tenacious enough to reapply. It’s a gift to hear that I was able to play some part in supporting your writing. Oh— and it sounds like you’ve got some great friends!
“To the young writers, I would merely say, “Try to develop actual work habits, and even though you have a busy life, try to reserve an hour, say — or more — a day to write.” Some very good things have been written on an hour a day. Henry Green, one of my pets, was an industrialist actually. He was running a company, and he would come home and write for just an hour in an armchair, and wonderful books were created in this way. So, take it seriously, you know, just set a quota. Try to think of communicating with some ideal reader somewhere. Try to think of getting into print. Don’t be content just to call yourself a writer and then bitch about the crass publishing world that won’t run your stuff. We’re still a capitalist country, and writing to some degree is a capitalist enterprise, when it’s not a total sin to try to make a living and court an audience. “Read what excites you,” would be advice, and even if you don’t imitate it you will learn from it. All those mystery novels I read I think did give me some lesson about keeping a plot taut, trying to move forward or make the reader feel that kind of tension is being achieved, a string is being pulled tight. Other than that, don’t try to get rich on the other hand. If you want to get rich, you should go into investment banking or being a certain kind of a lawyer. But, on the other hand, I would like to think that in a country this large — and a language even larger — that there ought to be a living in it for somebody who cares, and wants to entertain and instruct a reader.”—John Updike’s Advice to Young Writers: ‘Reserve an Hour a Day’ | Open Culture
“I’d argue that, whether you like it or not, hashtags are absolutely essential to accurately relate the way we use language today. I make this case not out of a love for hashtags (#nolove), but because they serve a unique grammatical function. Unlike colons, which suggest explanation and enumeration, hashtags imply both categorization and comment.”—
"We’ve been in a decade of dematerialization, all the markers of identity. You and I, when we were younger, knew how to talk about ourselves, to ourselves and others, through physical stuff—music, the books on our shelves, photos. We’ve gone through a period where a lot of that content is dematerialized. It became virtual. You could send people playlists, but it’s not the same as having someone go through your record collection. It had a different sort of intimacy.
"And it doesn’t surprise me that after 10 years of early-adoptive dematerialization, all the identity work and now the seduction of physical objects has come back in full force. Now it’s kind of a pendulum: we move between the virtual and the real a great deal. And we have historically—that’s hardly a new thing. I suspect that part of what we’re seeing with the Etsy maker and that whole spectrum is a kind of need for physical things because so much has become digital, and in fact, what’s being manifested in some of these places is really a reprise of physical stuff. Physicality has kind of come back."
“I had to learn to think, feel and see in a totally new fashion, in an uneducated way, in my own way, which is the hardest thing in the world. I had to throw myself into the current, knowing that I would probably sink. The great majority of artists are throwing themselves in with life-preservers around their necks, and more often than not it is the life-preserver which sinks them. Nobody can drown in the ocean of reality who voluntarily gives himself up to the experience. Whatever there be of progress in life comes not through adaptation but through daring, through obeying the blind urge. ‘No daring is fatal,’ said René Crevel, a phrase which I shall never forget. The whole logic of the universe is contained in daring, i.e., in creating from the flimsiest, slenderest support. In the beginning this daring is mistaken for will, but with time the will drops away and the automatic process takes its place, which again has to be broken or dropped and a new certitude established which has nothing to do with knowledge, skill, technique or faith. By daring one arrives at this mysterious X position of the artist, and it is this anchorage which no one can describe in words but yet subsists and exudes from every line that is written.”—Henry Miller— Reflections on Ŵriting