Tuesday, November 24, 2009

becoming an artist

The following is from Mark Z. Danielewski's novel "House of Leaves," upon which I commented in my previous post.

There are seven incarnations (and six correlates) necessary to becoming an Artist:

1. Explorer (Courage) -- First, you must leave the safety of your home and go into the dangers of the world, whether to an actual territory or some unexamined aspect of the psyche...

2. Surveyor (Vision) -- Next, you must have the vision to recognize your destination once you get there. Note that a destination may sometimes also be the journey...

3. Miner (Strength) -- Third, you must be strong enough to dig up facts, follow veins of history, unearth telling details...

4. Refiner (Patience) -- Fourth, you must have the patience to winnow and process your material into something rare. This may take months or even years...

5. Designer (Intelligence) -- Fifth, you must use your intellect to conceive of your material as something meaning more than its origins...

6. Maker (Experience) -- Six, you must fashion a work independent of everything that has gone before it including yourself. This is accomplished through experience...

At this stage, the work is acceptable. You will be fortunate to have progressed so far. It is unlikely, however, that you will go any farther. Most do not. But let us assume you are exceptional. Let us assume you are rare. What then does it mean to reach the final incarnation? Only this: at every stage, from 1 thru (sic) 6, you will risk more, see more, gather more, process more, fashion more, consider more, love more, suffer more, imagine more and in the end know why less means more and leave what doesn't and keep what implies and create what matters. This is what is meant by 'Artist.'

7. Artist


This resonates.


"Could they be the miners?"
--"Sure, they're, like, three years old."
"...Miners, not minors!
--"You lost me."


Saturday, November 21, 2009

book comments 21

"The Road" by Cormac McCarthy
--story of how a man and his son fight to survive in a post-apocalyptic world
--SO vivid
--excellent characterization in minimalist style
--Each sentence draws your attention, your thoughts, your heart on to the next sentence.
--McCarthy has a broad, elegant, lovely vocabulary; I loved the challenge of looking up some of his words:
chary, intestate, shrunken, ensepulchred, davits, sludge, swag, excelsior, loess, torsional, vermiculate
--also the word "illucid," which I think he made up; and crozzled, which seems to be a term from northeastern dialects
--McCarthy is one of my new favorites, if for no other reason than vocabulary. ;o)
--highly recommend

"House of Leaves" by Mark Z. Danielewski
--literally the WEIRDEST book I've ever read
--structured something like this:

[[[the story of Johnny (told mostly in footnotes), who reads Zampano's book and starts going crazy as a result <<<the non-fiction book written by crazy (?) old man Zampano (who is blind) *about* Will's movie and house {{{the "home movie" shot by professional photographer Will, whose house is larger on the inside than on the outside; the more he explores, the larger and more labyrinthine it gets--and there's something lurking in it}}} the non-fiction book written by crazy (?) old man Zampano (who is blind) *about* Will's movie and house>>> the story of Johnny (told mostly in footnotes), who reads Zampano's book and starts going crazy as a result]]]

And if you followed that synopsis, you have a pretty good idea of what it was like to read this novel.
--parts of it are in color
--parts of it are missing
--parts of it are written backwards
--parts of it are upside down, so you have to turn the whole book upside down to read it
--The book is structured like the house itself.
--This was a hard, challenging read.
--vulgar language
--recommend, but read at your own risk

"Mister B. Gone" by Clive Barker
--story of Jakabok Botch, a demon from the Ninth Circle of Hell, who tells about his (mis)adventures on Earth
--guest starring Johannes Gutenberg
--fun, fast read, seemingly light-hearted but with darker undertones
--not for the faint of stomach
--reminiscent of C.S. Lewis's "Screwtape Letters"; difference is that the demon addresses the reader
--My second Barker read; the first was 12 years ago. I think I'm ready for more.

2009 Book Count To-Date: 42. Ahhh....The Answer. ;oD

Thursday, November 12, 2009

peace out, or easy out?

There are a lot of things I don't talk about here.

Not because I'm ashamed of my own thoughts or feelings,

and not because I'm afraid of offending someone.

Quite simply, I keep certain opinion and feelings to myself because I just don't want to have to deal with the fallout from people who, I know, will disagree with me and be combative about it.

Does that make me smart and wise for wanting to keep the peace?

Or does that just make me a big chicken?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

because it made me giggle

...and I can see me cooing to squash, too. ;o)


"It's going to be cold and windy tonight," Anne said that afternoon as we stood in the kitchen and contemplated dinner.

"It's cold and windy right now," I said.

"Yes. That's how I know it's going to be cold and windy tonight. It feels like fall, so I want to make something hearty for dinner."

"Something Autumnal?" I said.


"Something that screams HARVEST!" I said, punctuating the word with jazz hands.

"Sure. Whatever. Let's make some soup with that squash you bought yesterday."

I picked the squash up off the counter and cradled it in my arms like it was a baby. "Do you want to be soup? Do you want to be soup?! I bet you'd be a delicious soup! Yes you would! Yes you would! Yummy, yummy soup!"

Anne and I have been together for 14 years, married for just a few weeks shy of 10 of those years, and it wasn't until that moment that I learned just how much she doesn't like it when people use baby talk with squash. (So just keep in mind, kids: even when you're old like we are, and you've been together for something in the neighborhood of 5000 days, there are still exciting new things to discover about each other.)

--Wil Wheaton

FYI, Mr. Wheaton's blog contains language of the unwashed, unrinsed variety. You have been forewarned.

Monday, November 09, 2009

me in november

You know you're a writer when you're trying to get the words out, and you start looking at your hands, and you get distracted by the complete cramazingness of the fingerprint of your left index finger, and you start coming up with different ways of describing it on paper. Of course, this helps your day's wordcount not at all, but at least you know who you are.

It's NaNoWriMo, you hooligans.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

book comments 20

"When The Day of Evil Comes" by Melanie Wells
--first book in the Day of Evil series (I commented on the second book [The Soul Hunter] here.)
--the start of Dylan Foster's misadventures with the demon Peter Terry
--for some reason, I think "Peter Terry" is an excellent name for a demon
--creepy (grave-robbing), gross (plague of flies), and disturbing (did I mention there's a demon?)
--good characterization, believable dialogue, good plot twists
--story and writing flow well
--also disturbing in that it makes ya think
--a few slow parts, more so than in Book 2, but nowhere slow enough to make me stop reading
--recommend; and I plan to acquire Book 3

"Star Wars: Death Troopers" by Joe Schreiber
In one shelle du nut:

Imperial prison barge. Convicts and stormtroopers. Zombies.

Yes, I said zombies.

--excellent writing: well-flowing story, action-packed, fast-paced, tension in every line, great vocab, highly effective imagery, vivid characters
--blood, guts, gore, and Wookiees
--I mentioned there are zombies, right?
--cramazing fun
--plus, the author's last name is German for "one who / something that writes"
--recommend to any Star Wars or sci-fi fan

"Traveling Mercies" by Anne Lamott
I can give no description that would do this book justice.

--Lamott tells her own story: growing up with drugs and alcohol in the '60s, watching friends die, becoming Jewish, becoming a seeker, becoming disillusioned, finding truth here and there and clinging to it
--tells the story of coming to faith in God by a grittier, more circuitous, more realistic path than most of us could imagine
--irreverent, profane, hilarious, wholly unafraid to say what others think but never dare to say
--If you have any faith in God at all, this book will probably take what you think you know and turn it inside out. And leave you feeling less as though you have a hole in your middle. That's how I feel about it, anyway. :o)
--one of my favorite quotes so far: "When a lot of things start going wrong all at once, it is to protect something big and lovely that is trying to get itself born--and...this something needs for you to be distracted so that it can be born as perfectly as possible."
--highly recommend

2009 Book Count To-Date: 39. Alas and alack, I fear I shall not exceed, nay, shall not even meet my book count of 2008. I had a longish non-reading period earlier this year, which was an unfortunate happenstance. Ah well, c'est la vie, n'est-ce pas, mes amis? Bien sur.

Please, pardon my French. ;oD