Monday, August 3, 2015

Quoted: Kay Redfield Jamison on genius and madness

What is to be made of the tendency to deny a link between psychopathy and genius, to regard bizarre -- and occasionally dangerous -- behavior as somehow normal if it occurs in writers and artists? Is it simply an admirable tolerance for deviant and eccentric behavior if it occurs in individuals who are, bu definition, already far from the normal temperament and intellectual standards of human society? Or does it reflect a belief that artists may just be fulfilling society's and their own expectations that they ought to be a "tormented genius?" -- Kay Redfield Jamison from Touched With Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Camp NaNo: Finished

No, but I reached my word goal and in the process completely changed what I thought was a fairly conventional bildungsroman into an absurdist horror tale, which would be great except that I don't write absurdist horror.

I write like tells me this story (or various parts of it) is reminiscent of:

Chuck Palahniuk
James Joyce
J.D. Salinger and
Robert Louis Stevenson?

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Why I still listen those I disagree with

I live in a conservative part of the US. I don't have the luxury of being ensconced in a nice, liberal bubble where I never have to be challenged. My interactions with the far left are limited to those online where there is a troubling trend of "guilt by association."  A lot of it has to do with the limitations of dashing off pithy blog posts and even pithier tweets. Signaling becomes crucial; no one wants to be on the "wrong" side, or rather, no one wants to be seen as being on the "wrong" side. A few years ago, former Feministe editor, Lauren said "your links are your rhetoric," and that kind of thinking has definitely intensified in those few short years. Instead of being a person with ideas and politics, you become a collection of proper signifiers.

I've seen many bloggers get thrown into the fire for doing or saying the wrong thing, but lately there have been a few high profile instances of bloggers and writers getting called out for linking to the wrong things or the wrong people even when they explicitly state that they do not agree with all or parts of these things. I'm not against calling out bigotry when I see it (however, I am against doxxing and harassing someone's employer because they thought the wrong thing), but this makes me exceedingly uncomfortable. I don't like limiting myself to associating only with those I agree with 100%. I read lots of (by leftist standards) questionable things. I don't like obsessively vetting someone to find some marginal offense that nullifies all the good work they've done. I think bad people sometimes stumble upon good ideas. It shouldn't be a risky career move to acknowledge these things.

I don't lay this out as a missive statement or apologia, but expecting writers to fall in lockstep with a particular ideology is intellectually dishonest. I think it was SJW whipping boy Bill Maher that said it's a waste of time fighting with people you agree with 90% of the time.  But sticking to a familiar script out of fear of isolation, or worse, career suicide, is stifling. There are a few people on the left willing to take that risk, but overwhelmingly, writers stick to what is safe. Had I not bothered to ever venture outside of the collection of approved liberal writers, I wouldn't found a number of writers I read today that while I don't always agree with challenge me in ways I wouldn't get otherwise.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Links & Bits: 7/31/15

One writer on why he refuses to see the new David Foster Wallace movie

Sheldon Richman on thought crimes, domestic terrorism and police bullying

R.I.P. Negativland's  Don Joyce


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Your birthday can influence your personality (but still don't believe in astrology)

I used to tell people when they asked my religion that the most religious thing either of my parents did was teach me how to do an astrology chart. (And read tarot cards but that's a story for another day.) My mother was a big believer in astrology, and even though I thought it was bunk (in no small part to being ascribed the irascible child of the zodiac. Why couldn't I be born under a cool sign like Scorpio or Aquarius? No one likes Aries.), it was a fun hobby. But nothing more than a hobby. But apparently Science has found a link between birth months and mental illness.
1. Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are more common among people born in winter and early spring.
Awesome.
2. Suicidality is more common among people born in the spring.
More great news.
Hyperthymic temperament — a tendency to be excessively positive — [was] significantly higher in those born in spring and summer.
Happy, but still suicidal?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Many sharks have been jumped

My novel has taken a turn for the absurd, but I'm okay with that.

Actually, I'm a little more than okay with it, and think maybe this is the direction I should have been taking all along instead of writing something with a lot of "feels," something I never quite have complete access to. But gonzo I do well.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Quoted: Maggie Nelson on writing and bad ideas

Most of my writing usually feels to me like a bad idea, which makes it hard for me to know which ideas feel bad because they have merit, and which ideas feel bad because they don't. Often I watch myself gravitating toward the bad idea, as if the final girl in a horror movie, albeit one sitting in a Tuff Shed at a desk sticky with milk. But somewhere along the line, from my heroes whose souls were forged in fires infinitely hotter than mine, I gained an outsized faith in articulation itself as its own form of protection. -- Maggie Nelson from The Argonauts
Why self-censorship is among the greatest of sins.