Living is storytelling: Narrative realities

Overheard, an item of happy hour flotsam: “I never read fiction. I’m only interested in the real world.”

Yeah, well. So you go ahead and tell me all about your ‘real world.’

narrative and living didionPersonality, culture, our realities themselves are narrative in structure. We and our worlds are stories we tell ourselves and each other, individually and collectively. This is something most people don’t understand. Reality is a social construct. Always. Once people do recognize this, even only tacitly, then the construction … Read more

No rewind, no undo

 

 In my last post, ‘Interpermeable realities, material & digital,’ I suggested that manipulative impulses, as well as sources of addiction, are leaking over from our digital worlds into our material realities. The impulse to conduct a word search in a paper book for just one example.

UNDO buttonEven before the digital age, of course, we’d experience impulses to alter our material world merely by wishing hard. A faux pas, for instance, could make you wish you had access … Read more

Interpermeable realities, material and digital

Do you ever try to conduct word searches while reading a print book? What an odd sensation. Just for a moment, you mentally reach for a control that isn’t there. Then you realize this is a paper book, and if you want to find that word or passage you have to use the index, if there is one, or else estimate where in all those pages it’s most likely to appear, and then skim the actual material book manually. What … Read more

Cooking up a character

 

chang deliciousnessBill the Mathematician has just sent me a link to David Chang’s Unified Theory of Deliciousness.’ As it happens, nine years later than the rest of the world, I’m currently hooked on the Breaking Bad TV series, and I have to wonder whether there’s a connection between Chang’s theory of deliciousness and a formula for creating great characters in fiction.walter white good

As Chang says:

A chef can go crazy figuring out how much salt to add to

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How to write a novel that flies

I had positivism and the notion of eternal recurrence sussed when I was five or six years old.

horse-and-wagon-clipart-1
Back in this boondocky town where I lived at the time, the streets were littered with horse turds from the one big white horse that pulled the garbageman’s wagon. Waste ground, of which there was plenty, tended to be covered with rubbish I guess the garbageman didn’t categorize as garbage. For example I remember patches of rhomboid glass fragments like dull gems … Read more

Home remedy: Physical, mental and spiritual

 

I’ve got a monster cold, the first in years. And the therapeutic effects of last night’s half bottle of wine had clearly worn off by the time I got up this morning.

The fever’s gone, but I remain fluish. So Sara fixed me a mug of hot lime juice with honey, and I chased that with my customary magic potion.

But things remained far from ideal, and the viruses probably reckoned they still had the upper hand. Until … Read more

Tattoo me noir too

tattoo year of glad

 

 

tattoo year of glad

In an earlier post, we had a look at Jack Flowers’ tattoos in Theroux’s Saint Jack, set in 1950s Singapore. Now we get a range of early-1990s attitudes to tattoos as described by David Foster Wallace in his novel Infinite Jest, which in parts can safely be described as noir. Very noir, in fact. In this excerpt, we find a broader sample population of tattoo aficionados, a variety of urban flotsam and jetsam conveniently washed up together … Read more

Authoritarian, fascistic personalities in need of strict-father figure?  

trump dema use

“The quality of a modern movie is inversely related to the quantity of money available to make it.” (Arguably The Revenant is an exception to this rule.)

demagogueWhatever. Ellie, Leary‘s second wife, soon extended her original natural law to describe political behaviour. She says that in so-called democracies — roughly speaking, systems of government incorporating elected representatives of the population — certain invariant laws and corollaries apply:

* The effectiveness of a political message is inversely related to the … Read more

Tattoo me noir

SaintJack cover 1st ed

 

 

tattoo bikerNot many years ago — and here we speak only of Western societies — having a tattoo assimilated you to a noirish rabble of able-bodied seamen, Foreign Legionnaires, ex-cons, circus performers, bikers, and boozers with a propensity for finding themselves in the vicinity of waterfront tattoo parlors. tattoo prison

Read on for a look at early-1950s attitudes towards tattoos, and the roles tatts played in Paul Theroux’s Saint Jack, a novel set in 1950s Singapore and first published in … Read more

Opportunities for graybeards

writers love 'emkenny rogers1Upon recent acquaintance and saddened at the news I’m only a writer, more than one Filipina lady has suggested I could make a living in Manila as a Kenny Rogers impersonator. Now an American woman from Tennessee who looks like a diminutive Cormac McCarthy with longer hair and dyspepsia tells me there’s hope for me in America as an Orsen Welles clone.

orson welles

I grow giddy at this ever-expanding horizon of opportunity, where age and gray-beardedness are instead generally supposed to … Read more