Monthly Archives: December 2012

“New Age”

My New Year’s resolution for 2012 was to write every day, and here at the very end of the year, I’m pleased to say that I actually managed to achieve that goal.  366 days straight, thanks to the leap year.  So my resolution for 2013 is, quite simply, more of the same.

Happy New Years to you all.  To those of you in other time zones where the year has already turned, I hope it’s been a good one so far.  To those of you still shaking off the remains of 2012, good riddance!  Here’s hoping 2013 holds bigger and better things for you all.

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“Delicate Hands”

I’ve rewatched the American Girl With The Dragon Tattoo several times since it’s come on cable, and I find I like it more and more each time.  But I’m also deeply troubled by some essential contradictions in the franchise — contradictions which, of course, I found neatly articulated in an article in the New Statesman by Laurie Penny.  The whole piece is well worth a read, but I’ll excerpt it at length because Penny says it better than I could hope to:

Lisbeth Salander is an immensely powerful character, a misandrist vigilante with a penchant for black fetish wear and ersatz technology, like the terrifying offspring of Batman and Valerie Solanos. She is so well drawn that one can almost forgive Larsson for having her sleep with the protagonist (an obvious author-insert of the kind normally only found in teenage fan-fiction) for no discernible reason. Salander is smart, she’s brave, she always wins, and she won’t let anyone tell her what to do. No wonder so many women secretly want to be her.

It is clear that the author of the Millennium franchise did not intend to glamorise violence against women. Unfortunately, it’s rather hard to stop the heart racing when rapes and murders are taking place in gorgeous high-definition over a slick soundtrack: part of the purpose of thrillers, after all, is to thrill. Decorating a punchy pseudo-feminist revenge fantasy in the gaudy packaging of crime drama rather muddles Larsson’s message.”Misogynist violence is appalling,” the series seems to whisper; “now here’s some more.”

However, the real problem with sensationalising misogyny is that misogyny is not sensational. Real misogyny happens every day. The fabric of modern life is sodden with sexism, crusted with a debris of institutional discrimination that looks, from a distance, like part of the pattern. The real world is full of “men who hate women”, and most of them are neither psychotic Mob bosses nor corrupt business tycoons with their own private punishment dungeons under the putting green. Most men who hate women express their hatred subtly, unthinkingly. They talk over the heads of their female colleagues. They make sexual comments about women in the street. They expect their wives and girlfriends to take responsibility for housework and to give up their career when their children are born.

In short: this.

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“The Lesson of the Moth”

Courtesy of Michelle, “The Lesson of the Moth” by Don Marquis:

i was talking to a moth
the other evening
he was trying to break into
an electric light bulb
and fry himself on the wires

why do you fellows
pull this stunt i asked him
because it is the conventional
thing for moths or why
if that had been an uncovered
candle instead of an electric
light bulb you would
now be a small unsightly cinder
have you no sense

plenty of it he answered
but at times we get tired
of using it
we get bored with the routine
and crave beauty
and excitement
fire is beautiful
and we know that if we get
too close it will kill us
but what does that matter
it is better to be happy
for a moment
and be burned up with beauty
than to live a long time
and be bored all the while
so we wad all our life up
into one little roll
and then we shoot the roll
that is what life is for
it is better to be a part of beauty
for one instant and then cease to
exist than to exist forever
and never be a part of beauty
our attitude toward life
is come easy go easy
we are like human beings
used to be before they became
too civilized to enjoy themselves

and before i could argue him
out of his philosophy
he went and immolated himself
on a patent cigar lighter
i do not agree with him
myself i would rather have
half the happiness and twice
the longevity

but at the same time i wish
there was something i wanted
as badly as he wanted to fry himself

archy

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“The Facts in the Case of Mister Hollow”

Thanks to Jeff for introducing me to this fun little short, a sort of macabre detective vignette told through close examination of a photograph:

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“Artificial Nocturne”

Make your feelings in THINGS, images.  There is so much more in an image because that is how we experience the world, a d a good story is about EXPERIENCE, not concepts and certainly not abstractions.  The abstractions are always finally empty and dull no matter how dear they may be to our hearts and no matter how profound we think they must be . . . So, in revision, get rid of all those places where you are commenting on things, and let the things stand for themselves.  BE CLEAR about the details that can be felt on the skin and in the nerves.

– Richard Bausch, quoted in “The Heart and the Eye” by J.T. Bushnell in this month’s Poets & Writers.

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“A Christmas Story”

In honor of the holiday season, here’s a piece of fiction.  It’s a mystery story of sorts, wrapped in a Christmas party — but be warned, it’s not exactly what I’d call “merry and bright.”

Not a lot of peace on Earth and good will toward men in my line of work . . .

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“White Waves”

Today I read:

Swans mate for life, which is maybe 10 or 15 years. Someone found a swan once that was 24 years old and probably it was mating for life, which everyone made a big deal out of even though the swan was not even old enough to rent a car. The swan wasn’t old enough to silently hyperventilate in bed. The swan didn’t have a bed.

– Amelia Gray, “The Swan as Metaphor for Love

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