Weekend Linkdump

  • We here at Mumpsimus Central do not indulge in wanton eating of dead turkeys, but many of our acquaintances (who do not indulge in first-person-plural reference to themselves) eat entire birds on Thanksgiving, and some of them even wonder at the pleasant sleepiness that follows their indulging. We've all heard of tryptophan, but what about two other words: intestinal melatonin?

  • Spurious on writing and failure:
    When your life fails, you can write, my life has failed; failure becomes success -- something has been achieved and this something bears what you have written. But if you were really a failure, would you have been able to write? Bad faith of writing: to have marshalled the strength to write, I am a failure is already to have left failure behind; you are a liar.
  • The House of the Vampire by George Sylvester Viereck

  • Classic Film Preview

  • ON SPEC: The Blog

  • Bud Parr quotes William Gass's essay "The Sentence Seeks Its Form" from the new issue of BookForum. The essay is not online, alas, though plenty of other things are (including a somewhat odd review by Bruce Sterling). The essay provides marvelous readings of the language in everybody from Shakespeare to Djuna Barnes, though the discussions are extended enough that they defy being soundbitten. So, in the interest of bringing more Gass to the internet, here's the most potentially controversial passage from the essay:
    Breath that has sustained a life has been shaped into words useful to communicate a life. This breath is otherwise waste, which may be another reason why the text wanted to intestinalize itself. These words hope to find companions called a sentence, and the sentence, too, is seeking a paragraph it may enhance. The writer must be a musician -- accordingly. Look at what you've written, but later ... at your leisure. First -- listen. Listen to Joyce, to Woolf, to Faulkner, to Melville. And to the poets, above all.

    Ah, but I have a story to tell, characters to create, a plot to contrive, you may, with incautious confidence, insist. No. That's what moviemakers do. They make hokum. You do not tell a story; your fiction will do that when your fiction is finished. What you make is music, and because your sounds are carriers of concepts, you make conceptual music, too.
    (For lots more Gass, see his recent Believer interview.)

  • Abigail Nussbaum's blog, Asking the Wrong Questions has been full of meaty content recently. See, for instance, Gloriana by Michael Moorcock: Being A Positive Bad Review or A Negative Good Review.

  • People buy fantasies

  • Ahua, the Water Language (via LanguageHat)

  • Life in These This United States

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