Thursday, 20 November 2008

Saving the Story (the Film Version)

(Thanks to Laurie for sending this!!)

Published: November 17, 2008

LOS ANGELES — The movie world has been fretting for years about the collapse of stardom. Now there are growing fears that another chunk of film architecture is looking wobbly: the story.

In league with a handful of former Hollywood executives, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Laboratory plans to do something about that on Tuesday, with the creation of a new Center for Future Storytelling.

The center is envisioned as a “labette,” a little laboratory, that will examine whether the old way of telling stories — particularly those delivered to the millions on screen, with a beginning, a middle and an end — is in serious trouble.

Its mission is not small. “The idea, as we move forward with 21st-century storytelling, is to try to keep meaning alive,” said David Kirkpatrick, a founder of the new venture.


Thursday, 25 September 2008

The Personal and the Individual (Leonard Michaels)

Nothing should be easier than talking about ways in which I write about myself, but I find it isn’t easy at all. Indeed, I want to say before anything else that a great problem for me, in writing about myself, is how not to write merely about myself. I think the problem is very common among writers even if they are unaware of it. Basic elements of writing–diction, grammar, tone, imagery, the patterns of sound made by your sentences–will say a good deal about you (whether you are conscious of it or not) so that it is possible for you to be writing about yourself before you even know you are writing about yourself. Regardless of your subject, these basic elements, as well as countless and immeasurable qualities of mind, are at play in your writing and will make your presence felt to a reader as palpably as your handwriting. You virtually write your name, as it were, before you literally sign your name, every time you write.

Read more in Partisan Review 1/ 2001 VOLUME LXVIII NUMBER 1

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-street

Bartleby, the Scrivener (1853)

by Herman Melville (1819–1891).

I AM a rather elderly man. The nature of my avocations for the last thirty years has brought me into more than ordinary contact with what would seem an interesting and somewhat singular set of men, of whom as yet nothing that I know of has ever been written:—I mean the law-copyists or scriveners. I have known very many of them, professionally and privately, and if I pleased, could relate divers histories, at which good-natured gentlemen might smile, and sentimental souls might weep. But I waive the biographies of all other scriveners for a few passages in the life of Bartleby, who was a scrivener the strangest I ever saw or heard of. While of other law-copyists I might write the complete life, of Bartleby nothing of that sort can be done. I believe that no materials exist for a full and satisfactory biography of this man. It is an irreparable loss to literature. Bartleby was one of those beings of whom nothing is ascertainable, except from the original sources, and in his case those are very small. What my own astonished eyes saw of Bartleby, that is all I know of him, except, indeed, one vague report which will appear in the sequel.

Read/download story here.

Sense and sensibility

For centuries, science and philosophy have grappled with the mystery of our inner life. But, argues David Lodge, it is literature that has provided the most accurate record of human consciousness.

Read article.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

The great unknown

From Jonathan Swift to Joe Klein, writers have gone to great lengths to hide their identities and cannily exploited the ensuing public speculation. John Mullan on how anonymity is often a sure route to notoriety

Saturday January 12, 2008
The Guardian

Many of the great books of English literature were originally published without their authors' names. It is one of the most frequent facts about literary works from before the 20th century, yet it is rarely thought worth a comment. We have forgotten that the first readers of Gulliver's Travels or Sense and Sensibility had to guess who their authors might be, and that writers like Sir Walter Scott and Charlotte Brontë went to elaborate lengths to keep secret their authorship of the bestselling books of their times. From Spenser and Donne to Dickens and Tennyson, most of the great names of English fiction and poetry used anonymity at some time.


JT LeRoy: The Famous Writer Who Wowed Bono and Courtney Love – But Didn't Exist

Thanks to Laurie for this:

--Excerpt from Rolling Stone, Issue 1040

GUY LAWSON Posted Nov 15, 2007 7:12 AM

The imaginary thirteen-year-old boy who became the famed author JT LeRoy emerged from the body of Laura Albert one day in 1993. Albert was curled up on the bathroom floor of her tiny apartment in San Francisco when she called in to the Child Crisis Service. She was in her midtwenties, a struggling musician who lived in poverty and had a history of childhood sexual abuse and mental illness. Phoning suicide hot lines and talking in the voices of teenage boys was a compulsion for her. Voices emerged from Albert constantly, hundreds of them living inside her, boys in peril who needed to share their woes with the well-meaning strangers on the other end of the line. The boy that emerged from Albert that day was poor and white, a soft-voiced kid with a Southern drawl. The call was answered by Dr. Terrence Owens, a psychologist who worked at the crisis center. Gradually, as Owens gained his trust, the boy revealed that he was the son of a truck-stop prostitute who traveled the country plying her trade. A street hustler, he said he turned tricks in the Tenderloin and dumpster-dived in Golden Gate Park. The only name he gave was "Terminator" ? an ironic play on the fact that he was fragile and frightened and harmless.


Wednesday, 9 January 2008

The Old Arm-chair by Eliza Cook

I LOVE it, I love it ; and who shall dare
To chide me for loving that old Arm-chair ?
I've treasured it long as a sainted prize ;
I've bedewed it with tears, and embalmed it with sighs.
' Tis bound by a thousand bands to my heart ;
Not a tie will break, not a link will start.
Would ye learn the spell ? -- a mother sat there ;
And a sacred thing is that old Arm-chair.