Saturday, May 7, 2011

An Old Critic Shares Secrets

In the Boston Review, an aged Harold Bloom looks back on his prolific career as a critic. (A brief peek at Wikipedia reveals that we share the same birthday, separated by more than a half century.) He doesn't directly tie any of his statements to improved productivity or blogging, but, with my youthful brashness, I've decided to make that leap.

One secret to producing more:
I wouldn’t dream of reading my earlier work... I can’t read me, there’s no reason anyone should read their own work.  

Friday, May 6, 2011

I'm now less hip than the NEA

I wrote earlier on my ignorance when it comes to gaming. Now even the National Endowment for the Arts is onto the gaming trend. New World Notes reports:
the National Endowment of the Arts, the US government body that awards grants to arts institutions and individual artists, have just expanded the categories of art it considers to include "media platforms such as... digital games", along with other Internet-driven mediums. As one of the country's most prominent arts organizations (taxpayer-funded, no less), this represents a huge milestone in the mainstream acknowledgement of games and other interactive media as art.
I do question the last line, however, as I doubt many see the NEA as opinion-makers or trendsetters. We often overestimate the role of top-down mechanisms in shaping art culture.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ingredients for a Very Long Free Lunch

Open Culture reports that
Mosfilm has just made 50 Russian classics (including Tarkovsky’s Mirror, Solaris, and Andrei Rublev) available on YouTube in high definition... Mosfilm has pledged to release five more films each week, all in HD with English subtitles, eventually bringing the total for the year to 200.
Tarkovsky's Mirror is a personal favorite, Solaris is an influential sci-fi classic. More films can be found at Mosfilm's YouTube channel. The site is in Russian, but Google will translate it for you.

Where the Imagination Takes Us

Sometimes we'd prefer the creative thoughts not come at all. Since having my car stolen, I've been imagining countless possible stories for the car's whereabouts. My mind wanders a bit like an Italo Calvino novel.
A chop shop is most likely, but lacks the drama we demand. Since I'd been writing on Philip Roth, I immediately thought of a vivid scene from American Pastoral on stolen cars in Newark ("the worst city in the world").

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Archaeology Meets Ancient Texts and Greek Myths

National Geographic reports: 
Marks on a clay tablet fragment found in Greece are the oldest known decipherable text in Europe, a new study says.
the tablet was created by a Greek-speaking Mycenaean scribe between 1450 and 1350 B.C.

My Own Little Postage Stamp of Native Soil

The title comes from a William Faulkner quote, referenced in David Ulin's LA Times article, which discusses Ulin's recent visit to Faulkner's hometown of Oxford, Mississippi. Though Faulkner's books are known for being dense and challenging, his interviews are often clear and quotable. (I've used them before as a jumping point for discussions.) The quote from which I pulled the title reads:
I discovered that my own little postage stamp of native soil was worth writing about and that I would never live long enough to exhaust it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I don't miss the smell of paper books, but...

David Gaughran's analysis shows why e-book dominance is inevitable. I've accepted this, but I often use the blog to look backwards, so I wanted to point out one (personal) advantage of paper books.

When I'm frustrated or distracted because something like this happened, I often turn to books to turn my mind to more productive things than anger.

Yet, in these distracted moods, I've found it much harder to concentrate on a screen than to concentrate on a paperback with a pencil in my hand. Maybe the difference is the pencil (I'm one of those readers). Normally, I find it easier to concentrate on the Kindle, perhaps because of its light weight/portability.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Who ever heard that the devil was dead?

Doesn't the devil live for ever; who ever heard that the devil was dead? 
The President has announced that Osama bin Laden is dead. "Justice has been done." Unsurprisingly, I first heard the news on Twitter. Responses have poured out. Steve Abernathy wonders why novelists have yet to produce any "relevant work" grappling with 9/11. I offer no better than these "timid" novelists. As I'm prone to do, I'll react with citations, this time from Moby Dick. "This is my substitute for pistol and ball."

Sunday, May 1, 2011

And I thought April was the cruelest month

Woke up to find the car stolen. Perhaps I tempted the fates with all my praise of walking. I'll now wash away the sorrows with a little Springsteen.

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