Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow:
In one of these streets, in the morning fog, plastered over two slippery cobblestones, is a scrap of newspaper headline, with a wirephoto of a giant white cock, dangling in the sky straight downward out of a white pubic bush. The letters
appear above with the logo of some occupation newspaper, a grinning glamour girl riding astraddle the cannon of a tank, steel penis with slotted serpent head, 3rd Armored treads ’n’ triangle on a sweater rippling across her tits. The white image has the same coherence, the hey-lookit-me smugness, as the Cross does. It is not only a sudden white genital onset in the sky — it is also, perhaps, a Tree…
Walter Ong, Orality & Literacy:
To say writing is artificial is not to condemn it but to praise it. Like other artificial creations and indeed more than any other, it is utterly invaluable and indeed essential for the realization of fuller, interior, human potentials. Technologies are not mere exterior aids but also interior transformations of consciousness…. Writing heightens consciousness. Alienation from a natural milieu can be good for us and indeed is in many ways essential for full human life. To live and understand fully, we need not only proximity but also distance. This writing provides for consciousness as nothing else does.
Nietzsche, The Gay Science:
…But what I have in view will now be understood, namely, that it is always a metaphysical belief on which our belief in science rests,— and that even we knowing ones of today, the godless and anti-metaphysical, still take our fire from the conflagration kindled by a belief a millennium old, the Christian belief, which was also the belief of Plato, that God is truth, that the truth is divine… But what if this itself always becomes more untrustworthy, what if nothing any longer proves itself divine, except it be error, blindness, and falsehood;— what if God himself turns out to be our most persistent lie?
Barbara Tuchman, Practicing History:
…I take notes on four-by-six index cards, reminding myself about once an hour of a rule I read long ago in a research manual, “Never write on the back of anything.” Since copying is a chore and a bore, use of the cards, the smaller the better, forces one to extract the strictly relevant, to distill from the very beginning, to pass the material through the grinder of one’s own mind, so to speak. Eventually, as the cards fall into groups according to subject or person or chronological sequence, the pattern of my story will emerge. Besides, they are convenient, as they can be filed in a shoe box and carried around in a pocketbook. When ready to write I need only to take along a packet of them, representing a chapter, and I am equipped to work anywhere; whereas if one writes surrounded by a pile of books, one is tied to a single place, and furthermore likely to be too much influenced by other authors.
PSA: I’ve recently added a few more “old” posts to this blog with their original publication dates:
Victor Papanek, Design for the Real World:
The most important ability that a designer can bring to his work is the ability to recognize, isolate, define, and solve problems.
PSA: I have added a blogroll. You can see it above, between “Tools” and “Archives.”
Work as if you lived in the early days of a better nation.
Another batch of short impressions of some of the books I’ve finished this year. (Previously)
Nicola Stӑnescu (Cotter, trns), Wheel with a Single Spoke (Archipelago, 2012)
He bears a strong resemblance to early Residencia-era Neruda — that wild, defiant surrealism, almost violently playful. (Pairs well with Andrei Codrescu, of course, who sees Stӑnescu as a profoundly important influence.)
Basho (Corman, trns), Backroads to Far Towns (White Pine, 2004)
Cid Corman perfectly captures the diaristic tone of Basho’s haibun. Informal dispatches from a roadtrip. I’ve read many translations of this work, but this was the first one that made me wish Wim Wenders would make a movie version of it.