Bolaño, Excerpt, literature, nonfiction, notes, prose, quote, Uncategorized, writing

Bolaño’s literary kitchen

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“In my ideal literary kitchen there lives a warrior, whom some voices (disembodied voices, voices that cast no shadow) call a writer. This warrior is always fighting. He knows that in the end, no matter what he does, he’ll be defeated. But he still roams the literary kitchen, which is built of cement, and faces his opponent without begging for mercy or granting it.”

— Roberto Bolaño

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Excerpt, Fiction, literature, notes, prose, Uncategorized, writing

Echoes of silence

 

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I imagined him leaning over the page by candlelight while the rest of the hospital slept, night after night, his true voice pouring from the pen in measured strokes, filling the void of sound in his throat and in that quiet building with the voices of multitudes. The cold winter months abated, new growth sprouted in the crystalline valley below Clyvesell, and Wade was there looking out the window and writing. Sun scorched the mountain relentlessly in the summers and Wade was there with his notepad, cloaked in the solitude of night, stealing sleep during the day when he could. He worked his jobs, he attended therapy sessions, events, activities when required, which was often. But he lived for the night, when the echoes of silence throughout Clyvesell could not hush his mind, his pen.

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churchill, Excerpt, literature, nonfiction, notes, philosophy, prose, quote, Uncategorized, writing

Churchill on landlords

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Roads are made, streets are made, services are improved, electric light turns night into day, water is brought from reservoirs a hundred miles off in the mountains — all the while the landlord sits still. Every one of those improvements is affected by the labor and cost of other people and the taxpayers. To not one of these improvements does the land monopolist contribute, and yet, by every one of them the value of his land is enhanced. He renders no service to the community, he contributes nothing to the general welfare, he contributes nothing to the process from which his own enrichment is derived…The unearned increment on the land is reaped by the land monopolist in exact proportion, not to the service, but to the disservice done.

— Winston Churchill, 1909

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Excerpt, literature, montaigne, notes, philosophy, prose, Uncategorized, writing

Montaigne on introspection

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If no one reads me,

have I wasted my time, entertaining myself for so many idle hours with such useful and agreeable thoughts? … I have no more made my book than my book has made me — a book consubstantial with its author …

Have I wasted my time by taking stock of myself so continually, so carefully? For those who go over themselves only in their minds and occasionally in speech do not penetrate to essentials in their examination as does a man who makes that his study, his work, and his trade, who binds himself to keep an enduring account, with all his faith, with all his strength.

Indeed, the most delightful pleasures are digested inwardly, avoid leaving any traces, and avoid the sight not only of the public but of any other person.

— Michel de Montaigne

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Excerpt, Fiction, literature, memoir, MuñozMolina, notes, prose, quote, Uncategorized, writing

Muñoz Molina on the novel

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The novel subjects itself to its own limits and at the same time opens itself up to an exploration of depths that are within and without (the writer) and that only (the writer) was meant to discover. You’re writing even when you don’t write. Narrative imagination does not feed on what is invented; It feeds on the past. Every minor or trivial event that one experiences or discovers in the course of an investigation can be valuable or even decisive for the novel, occupying a minimal but precise place within it, like an uneven cobblestone …

… The novel has developed on its own with the unlimited richness of reality and the blank spaces I haven’t been tempted to fill, spaces in the shadows that cannot be illuminated …

…The novel is what I write and also the room where I work. The novel is the fine-point pen that ran out of ink one day when I wrote for five or six hours without stopping and filled an entire notebook. The novel is made with everything I know and everything I don’t know, and with the sensation of groping my way through this story but never finding a precise narrative outline.

— Antonio Muñoz Molina, Like a Fading Shadow. Translated by Camilo A. Ramirez. Published by Editorial Planeta, S.A., 2014. Translation copyright 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York.

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Fiction, literature, notes, prose, Uncategorized, writing

amateurs

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For several years I kept my eyes open. I moved through the visual realm. Now the light is dim, the will is weak. The cabin freezes, for I don’t hoist myself up for firewood. All the birdsong has gone. The world beyond my door is grand, sublime, but silent—frozen, smothered in snow. At night, the moon and stars provide more light than needed to navigate the empty world, to stomp through drifts of un-shoveled snow to the wood pile. Wolves watch me from afar, their eyes like pointed stars in the shadows. It must be a dream, I think. All of this: the night, the cold, the wolves, this life—

*

A: Your license and registration, please.

B: …

A: Your license and registration, sir.

B: …

A: Can you hear me, sir?

B: …

A: Sir?

B: …

A: (mutters into radio device)

*

You’ll catch me singing in the shower, sad songs. A shower is expiation, catharsis. A shower is amenable to tears.

*

A: Will there be anything else for you, sir? (smiling)

B: No, thank you.

A: Would you like to try any dessert? (smiling, wiping table)

B: No. (smiling, shaking head)

A: How about one of our delicious smoothies? (smiling, wiping table)

B: No.

A: They’re 30% off right n— (smiling)

B: No, thank you. (smiling, forced)

A: Okay, if you need anything else— (smiling)

B: …

A: … (smiling)

*

“The hour of death comes sometimes with agitation and suffering, and sometimes with resignation or even in sleep. Some people report, from near-death experiences, that they see a great light. However, there is no great light, other than in the minds of some of the dying. According to certain conjectures, they perceive such a light because the brain is starved of oxygen, or because there is stimulation, as life wanes, of the temporal lobe, as if the body, on the very verge, were to play a final trick on us.

“Regardless of whether death is resisted or accepted, its aftermath follows a regular course. The body is now a corpse. It becomes first rigid, then bloated. It soon rots, stinks, and begins to be devoured by vermin and bacteria, unless it is promptly burned. From having been revered, the body turns into an object of revulsion.” — Roberto Mangabeira Unger, The Religion of the Future

*

A: What type of writing do you do?

B: All kinds.

A: Do you get paid for it?

B: Some of it.

A: So, would you say you are a professional or an amateur?

B: … Both.

A: I used to write poetry when I was a kid.

B: …

A: And a little in college.

B: … (nodding)

A: … (blushing)

B: What do you like to read?

A: I don’t really read. I wish I did. Don’t have time.

B: … (nodding)

A: Wish I did.

B: … (nodding)

A: Don’t have time.

B: … (nodding)

*

“Amateurs uphold ideas that oppose professional authority. They express concerns professionals don’t consider, don’t care about, often won’t acknowledge. An amateur is more likely to be someone who rocks the boat. He or she isn’t on anybody’s payroll and never will be. To that degree, an intellectual ought to be an amateur.” —  Andy Merrifield, The Amateur

*

Mid-afternoon, when the day is hottest, that’s when I want to burrow deep into the cool earth and wait out the sun. The sun allergy affects both good and bad days, as well as days in-between. The sun is the primary source of life-giving energy on this planet. It is also a menace to all creatures in seasons of extreme heat. For me it is a daily curse, and summers are damnation. I am most free and comfortable once the sun has set. I wave at other night creatures on my crepuscular walks. I sing at the moon. Man and creature both scuttle from my approach.

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