“Freedom of the soul, I feel, was crucial for these pitiful pigeons. Without it, life is meaningless, and yet they seem never even to have heard of the word.”—Uyghur writer Nurmuhemmet Yasin was born on this day in 1974. The above is an excerpt from his story Wild Pigeon, for which he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. (via penamerican)
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson (via thatkindofwoman)
“So why do I write, torturing myself to put it down? Because in spite of myself I’ve learned some things. Without the possibility of action, all knowledge comes to one labeled “file and forget,” and I can neither file nor forget.”—Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison. Ellison was born on this day in 1914. (via penamerican)
“Loneliness does not come from having no people around, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views others find inadmissible.”— Carl Jung (via psych-facts)
“Much like fairy tales, there are two facets of horror. One is pro-institution, which is the most reprehensible type of fairy tale: Don’t wander into the woods, and always obey your parents. The other type of fairy tale is completely anarchic and anti-establishment.”—Guillermo del Toro on how horror is inherently political as a genre, Time Magazine (x)
“If he can only perform good or only perform evil, then he is a clockwork orange—meaning that he has the appearance of an organism lovely with colour and juice but is in fact only a clockwork toy to be wound up by God or the Devil.”—― Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange
“Exile is strangely compelling to think about but terrible to experience. It is the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home: its essential sadness can never be surmounted. And while it is true that literature and history contain heroic, romantic, glorious, even triumphant episodes in an exile’s life, these are no more than efforts meant to overcome the crippling sorrow of estrangement. The achievements of exile are permanently undermined by the loss of something left behind for ever.”—Edward Said in his essay, ‘Reflections on Exile’
Fiction is more dangerous than nonfiction because it can seduce better. I think we all know this, know that deeper truths can be approached in fiction than in fact. There are risks for the reader, because after reading certain books you find you have changed irreversibly. There are risks for writers: in China, now, and Ethiopia and other countries right now, writers face real persecution. Fiction is risky for writers also in that the process of making certain books, of shaping certain narratives, leaves scars and marks on your inner life.
If there was no risk, it wouldn’t be art. It wouldn’t be worth making. There is risk even in a fairy tale. Fiction is closest to pure narrative, and pure narrative is simply the logic we try to impose on an ever-changing reality.
“…you must say words, as long as there are any, until they find me, until they say me, strange pain, strange sin, you must go on, perhaps it’s done already, perhaps they have said me already, perhaps they have carried me to the threshold of my story, before the door that opens on my story, that would surprise me, if it opens, it will be I, it will be the silence, where I am, I don’t know, I’ll never know, in the silence you don’t know, you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on”—― Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable
“But little girls are raised on fairytales. Is it any wonder we all crave the happy endings to the dark things in our lives? No one ever tells you that sad things stay sad, some people die angry and unforgiven, and some things are lost and never found.”—~~ Lisa Unger, BEAUTIFUL LIES
“Fiction is that place where human beings do not have to be better than they really are, where characters can and should confront each other, where they must create scenes, where desire will have its day, where all truth is beautiful. Fiction is the antidote to the conduct manual.”—
(via Sackett Street Writers instructor and author Dina Nayeri)
“Writing is like hunting. There are brutally cold afternoons with nothing in sight, only the wind and your breaking heart. Then the moment when you bag something big.
The entire process is beyond intoxicating.”—Kate Braverman
“Transendental is the word. I don’t believe in all this stuff about grief because I think we grieve forever, but that goes for love too, fortunately for all us.”—M.F. K. Fisher ‘91 letter to Lawrence Clark Powell pg. 497 A Life In Letters
“A story imprints on your mind an image that is beyond the language. We say, ‘I was moved, though I can’t explain how and why,’ don’t we? That happens often with works that are so-called masterpieces. And that beyond-words appeal is, for me, the power of the imagery that the story delivers.”—Yoshitomo Nara in conversation with Hideo Furukawa
“Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing. They are the ones who discover what is most important and strangest and most pleasurable in themselves, and keep believing in the value of their work, despite the difficulties.”—Bonnie Friedman (via writetothestars)
“All art comes from terrific failures and terrific needs that we have. It is about the difficulty of being a self because one is neglected. Everywhere in the modern world there is neglect, the need to be recognised, which is not satisfied. Art is a way of recognising oneself.”—
“I do story, as opposed to plot. I’ve recently become slightly gendered in my theories about plot. I think that men really like to build a book like a machine, you know? The lever you pull that makes the cogs go round and then the balls drop. Right? I don’t do it that way. I grew The Gathering like mushrooms in a shed, like something in the dark. A story is something that’s looking for insight, I think, whereas you plot a book to have an effect. Story is about pulling the reader in and a plot is a more externalized mechanism of revelation. A plot is more antic, more performative, and less intimate. When you’re telling a story you’re telling it into someone’s ear.”—Anne Enright interviewed by Conan Putman The Believer, January 2014
“It was always clear to me that I would have to earn my readers, some I would have to find, some to create. No reader owes me anything—I am owed nothing for my noble efforts, because my writing was always unconditional, always coming out of inner necessity. Another way to say it: I don’t care what other books are like, bad or not. I am going to keep doing this. I cannot be stopped.”—Alexsander Hemon (via mttbll)
“A man sets out to draw the world. As the years go by, he peoples a space with images of provinces, kingdoms, mountains, bays, ships, islands, fishes, rooms, instruments, stars, horses and individuals. A short time before he dies, he discovers that the patient labyrinth of lines traces the lineaments of his own face.”—Jorge Luis Borges, The Aleph (via fuckyeahjorgeluisborges)
“We live in a moment where it’s so easy to see what everyone else is doing and to compare yourself to that. Seek your truth and tell it. Just seek your truth. It is a harder thing to sit in the stillness. You’re the best person to tell your own story. Trust that.”—THE RUMPUS INTERVIEW WITH EDWIDGE DANTICAT
BY KIMA JONES
January 1st, 2014
“To know that one does not write for the other, to know that these things I am going to write will never cause me to be loved by the one I love (the other), to know that writing compensates for nothing, sublimates nothing, that it is precisely there where you are not—this is the beginning of writing.”—Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments (I reread it today)
“A flower left out.
My bones hold a stillness, the far
Fields melt my heart.
To let me through to a heaven
Starless and fatherless, a dark water.”—Sylvia Plath, Sheep in Fog (via seabois)