Zombie nation: Shutting down

In my previous post I suggested that persons and cultures, our very realities, are narrative in structure. What happens when you interrupt such narratives? Many of us are finding out, thanks to our increasingly ubiquitous and much-beloved digital communication technologies. There follow two especially obvious ways this is happening.

Applying a cell phone to the side of one’s head in public has the effect of disconnecting the brain. In this condition, cellphone users show characteristic signs of aimlessness, milling about … Read more

Save the semicolons

“[U]se of the semicolon is dwindling. Although colons were common as early as the 14th century, the semicolon was rare in English books before the 17th century. It has always been regarded as a useful hybrid—a separator that’s also a connector—but it’s a trinket beloved of people who want to show that they went to the right school.”

Henry Hitchings, “Is This the Future of Punctuation!?(Wall Street Journal, 22 Oct. 2011)

Rightfully, I think, there’s … Read more

Writerly occupational hazards: Emotional opportunism & spiritual callousing

Two years after his death, Michael Jackson is back in the news, with his former doctor defending himself against charges of involuntary manslaughter. I’m not sure what emotions this case is arousing in the general public, but it has caused me to revisit my first reaction to the so-called King of Pop’s untimely passing.

“A long time after painting [his first wife] Camille on her deathbed, Monet confessed to his friend Georges Clemenceau about the pain or shock he felt

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More greed is good

I recently saw Oliver Stone’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, with Michael Douglas doing a job of personifying greed for the first time since the first Wall Street, which won relatively more favorable critical notice, came out in 1987.

Critical opinion on Rotten Tomatoes seems about evenly divided. But I tend to be a-critical when I’m in the mood for escapism, and I reckon this film did the trick very nicely. I’d recommend it for fans and enemies … Read more

Writerly occupational hazards: Addictions, spinal deficiencies, and disciplinary infinite regresses


One writer, however much tongue in cheek, has actually expressed admiration for addicts:

I admire addicts. In a world where everybody is waiting for some blind, random disaster, or some sudden disease, the addict has the comfort of knowing what will most likely wait for him down the road. He’s taken some control over his ultimate fate, and his addiction keeps the cause of death from being a total surprise.     ~ Chuck Palahniuk

Overall, though, even Palahniuk would probably concede … Read more

Graphically engaging: The sequel

Has anyone else noticed what’s happening with skirts and short-shorts around Bangkok? (Or are writers just unusually perceptive?) Are there such things as benign epidemics?

Haikus are so much easier to write than novels. Of course the commercial prospects, including their chances on the Big Screen, are even more uncertain. Whatever. Here’s what I’m going to call a mixed-media haiku.

A spiritual (to be sung with full chorus)

God is there in the hemlines

Ascending, praise be,

Heavenwards. Oh, Lord.

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New, improved reading experience. Not.

“Alice” fans and critics (see my last post) likely fall into opposing iPad and Kindle/Sony camps. The former will view Alice as a new and improved kind of reading: “Great! It’s just like browsing the Internet.”  The latter — i.e. those who actually enjoy extended reading — will view it with horror: “Whoa! This is just one more patch of digital quicksand.”

In the spirit of deteriorating attention spans and debilitated Muses, and  because it’s way easier than writing … Read more

Vuvuzelas: The Haiku

It’s my turn to compliment Jack on a nice turn of phrase, one I’m now going to adapt to yet another haiku, which, as anybody can tell you, is easier than writing a novel.

Summer sun-swollen

Dead horse abuzz with blowflies

Conjures the World Cup.

Not beautiful,” is Sara’s opinion. She could be right. But, hey. There are already enough haiku-ish conventions without some rule it’s also got to be beautiful.

The illustration is from David M. Hart’s webpage, Read more

Sky gravid with precipitate disaster II: The haiku

In the interests of conciseness, a fundamental rule of good writing style, and seeing how much Jack likes my turns of phrase, I’ve converted much of my lengthy “Licking doorknobs” post of 19 June — a tribute to investors and  financial analysts everywhere — into a haiku:

Dark skies gravid with

Precipitate disaster.

Bears sail arks of gold.

Hey, it’s got 17 syllables. What more do you expect? Maybe Jack or his “nameless scrivener” can tell me if Read more