The old cliché “write what you know” is something of a misnomer. The obvious question to me is “How can you write something you don’t know?” Even the most fantastical, absurd stories about aliens or ancient battles of thrones come from some common pool of one’s humanity and taps into the deep, unconscious myths of existence.
That being said, there are writers who seem to take “write what you know” to the extreme in that their writing is very much seeped in the time and place of their existence. One of these writers is the great Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer, the 2011 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Read the rest of this entry »
In recent days I have had less time to write longer posts, so I have decided that I would try to do more and more smaller posts about things I have read recently or found interesting.
The other day I rediscovered Rilke’s reinterpretation of “The Prodigal Son” story from the bible. This passage ends Rilke’s only work of fiction called “The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge,” which I highly recommend as well if you have time to read it.
Rilke does not tell the story of the prodigal son as someone who lapses into sin and debauchery but is welcomed back to his family with open arms. Instead Rilke tells the story of “the legend of a man who didn’t want to be loved.”
There are some beautiful pieces of writing such as:
“For he had loved again and again in his solitude, each time squandering his whole nature and in unspeakable fear for the freedom of the other person. Slowly he learned to let the rays of his emotion shine through into the beloved object, instead of consuming the emotion in her. And he was pampered by the joy of recognizing, through the more and more transparent form of the beloved, the expanses that she opened to his infinite desire for possession.”
Anyway, I encourage you to read the rest.
Fellow DUFL Press blogger, Anthony K, emailed me this article the other day. It is an email interview with 4 Trappist Monks and how they deal with their orders vow of silence. It is a fascinating interview, and I suggest you read the whole thing, but I thought I would focus on one particular quote:
Withdrawal is a bitch. I live in a constant miasmic haze. I can’t seem to concentrate on anything as if my brain was surrounded by storm clouds. Strange phlegm emerges from the recesses from my body. My throat constantly itches. I want to punch my neighbor in the face. A cigarette and a drink would solve all at this moment. Except that it won’t.
This Mother’s Day I am sitting at home watching the Mets-Marlins game. In the 7th inning John Buck hit a 2-run home run to tie the game at 2-2. And then this happened:
OH GOD. THAT THING WILL DESTROY US ALL.
Every few years or so, I rewatch the Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 film Ikiru. There is no obvious reason I submit to this biyearly penance. It’s a movie with no violence or nudity. It contains no great love story and says little about liberals or conservatives or the validity of this or that gun law. I rewatch it simply because it is one of the few movies that forces me like a reflecting mirror to face the unavoidability of my death. As Stanley Elkin once said, “I would never write about someone who is not at the end of his rope.” Similarly, I find it hard to rewatch anything unless it is about people at the end of their rope.
Read the rest of this entry »