tablesaw: A stick-figure person walking in a carefree manner. The caption reads, 'Haters gonna make some good points' (Haters)
I'm not even done with this article and I already want to blog about it. Well, mostly I just want to blog. Well, mostly I want to put something on my DW. (And a little bit I want to play Spelunky.)

I've been thinking about blogging vs. Twitter for a little bit. I've been aware that there are lots of aspects of Twitter that make me quieter on it. Obviously, there's the length restrictions, which I react to pretty strongly. I find it hard to make statements that comprise more than one tweet. But there's also the speed of tweet/retweet/response (Tumblr has a similar cycle), which I just have a hard time keeping up with. But there's an also an issue of time and speed. I also know that it will add to my blog's accruing history (which I see is going to become important in the part of the article I am still getting to).

As I said, I'm still working my way through Vance's article, but the portion about form and content as regards Twitter polarized me on that matter, highlighting the exploitative structure of its form. One of those things is the way that Twitter is obsessively focused on the "now".
Consider all the reasons why our intrepid capitalists of yesteryear replaced the (almost) timeless Holy Bible with a newspaper whose time is always the present; consider the political redefinition of 'content' to mean consumable rather than everlasting. A Tweet™ spends no more than a day or two in public view before vanishing into a database somewhere. Once our Tweet™ has been consumed and forgotten we make another and another, never Tweeting™ the same thing twice without dedicating 5 characters to an apologetic "ICYMI" (in case you missed it). The 'form' of Twitter, like that of the newspaper, demands a constant stream of new things to bury all the old ones.
On Twitter (and Tumblr), I do feel that pressure of having to put forward quantity a quantity of "content" that's more than I can really sustain in order to have a "presence." And as a result, existing on those sites makes me feel like a ghost, passive. Writing on a blog—my blog—give me a sense of place, and also lets me slow things down to my own speed.

There's also the fact that Dreamwidth remains a noncommercial open-source system, which I can depend on to stay relatively true to its mission statement (though there are, of course, ways that the structure still affects how I write). It just feels like a more comfortable place to be right now, even if I don't think anybody's going to be around to read it. (He says, knowing that once he posts this, links to it will be posted on Twitter, Tumblr, Livejournal, etc.)
tablesaw: A twenty-sided die glows with the power of the Great Old Ones. (Cthulhu Icosahedron)
As the players both stand foot to foot, face to face,
One should aim to go east while the other goes west,
Though they're out of the game if they step out of place.

Player one starts a volley by making the case
Why the other one budging would really be best,
As the players both stand foot to foot, face to face.

The opponent can then, if they choose to, embrace
This persuasive protreptic profoundly expressed,
Though they're out of the game if they step out of place.

So instead, they must fully expound the disgrace
That would fall upon them should they meet that request,
As the players both stand foot to foot, face to face.

Player two then returns a demand for the space
To move forward. The foe may choose not to protest,
Though they're out of the game if they step out of place.

Then repeat and repeat in a motionless chase
Where the mulish participants grow more obsessed1
As the players both stand foot to foot, face to face,
Though they're out of the game if they step out of place.
1For a more somber game, replace "obsessed" with "depressed."

Probably Much-Needed Context )
tablesaw: "This sounds like Waiting for Spy Godot" (Hunt)
The conversation continuing in the comments to my last post is awesome. Something occurred to me that didn't fit in with any of the comments, so I thought I'd address it separately.

A large part of my history with literary criticism in general, and the New Critics in particular, is the fact that my first serious analysis of literature came when I was a theatre major. In particular, my professor Stacy Wolf was very adamant about debunking the idea that analyzing theatre meant analyzing a playscript written by a playwright, as opposed to a produced play with actors, set design, costumes, music, and anything else that might be there, including the fact that any particular production of a play will have several slightly variant performances. It's harder, but it's so much more awesome.

It was also the first time that anyone had ever seriously suggested that the cover actually does affect the book. That is, it was an article that analyzed the effect of publicity on the production, arguing that it could never be simply ignored in the analysis of a play, production, or performance.

It included an anecdote about the premiere of Waiting for Godot in America that really stuck with me. Unfortunately, I had a hard time verifying it, and so for many years, I worried that it was too good to be true. And then, just today, I have found that it has appeared in the New Yorker, from an eyewitness:

amuel Beckett’s "Waiting for Godot," billed as "the laugh sensation of two continents," made its American début at the Coconut Grove Playhouse, in Miami, Florida, in 1956. My father, Bert Lahr, was playing Estragon, one of the two bowler-hatted tramps who pass the time in a lunar landscape as they wait in vain for the arrival of a Mr. Godot. "Playing 'Waiting for Godot' in Miami was like doing 'Giselle' in Roseland," my father said. The play was not so much a laugh riot as a revolution in theatrical storytelling; inevitably, it was met with militant incomprehension. "A dramatic whatzit," Walter Winchell called it, adding, "The history of frammis never had anything so rillerrah." On opening night, half the audience walked out after the first act; the next day, there was a line at the box office—to return tickets.
—John Lahr, "Panic Attack"

Of course, once found, that phrase "the Laugh Sensation of two Continents" becomes a key into finding related work, because the anecdote is so good, it gets worked into other articles. I'm pretty sure the article I read was excerpted from Directing Postmodern Theater: Shaping Signification in Performance. And here's an excerpt from The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative using it to talk about paratexts, which [personal profile] flourish mentioned in comments:
Gerard Genette invented the word paratexts for this material that lies somehow on the threshold of the narrative. Talking about the impact of a narrative, we can easily overlook the contributions of paratexts. We get into the habit of assuming that the narrative is wholly comprised in the thing we read, hear, or see with its beginning, middle, and end. Of course, the influence of some paratexts, like the kind of paper a novel is printed on, or the texture of its binding, may have very little influence on how we experience a narrative. (Though even here one can find exceptions. Wilde's Dorian Gray purchased "nine large-paper copies" of his favorite novel "and had them bound in different colours so that they might suit his various moods.") But a strong recommendation on the book jacket might predispose us to read a narrative with a favorable mindset or, conversely, to be doubly disappointed when the narrative dails to match the expectations created by the blurb. Or an ad, perhaps for commercial reasons, may lead us to expect one kind of play or film, when the work is quite something else. The American premier of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot—a stark, static, darkly humored representation of the human condition—was advertised as "the laugh sensation of two continents." As a result, the production played to, if not the wrong audience, the wrong set of expectations. On opening night, the upper-middle-class Miami audience, lured by the prospect of light comedy, left the theatre in droves before the first act.
tablesaw: Machete reveals his personal armory. "They just fucked with the wrong Mexican." (Wrong Mexican)
My ire was raised today reading [personal profile] kate_nepveu's writeup of her Arisia experience, specifically being on the panel of "Idols with Feet of Clay."

But specifically, I want to address one particular argumentative tack, seen in Ian Randal Strock's own recounting of the con and the panel:
On the programming side, I was on five panels (I was scheduled for two more, but missed them due to traffic). The most lively was the first, "Idols with Feet of Clay". It was a discussion of the question: "Can you still read the works of someone with whom you are on opposite sides politically?" The panel write-up specifically mentioned James P. Hogan's Holocaust denial and Orson Scott Card's opposition to homosexuality. Of the five panelists, I was the only one who said one ought to be able to divorce the art from the artist, and read the fiction regardless of one's view of the writer.
(Emphasis mine.) The phrase "divorce [or separate] the art from the artist [or vice versa]" is pretty key in these debates, and it is singled out on both sides of the debate. For example, [personal profile] nojojojo responds
Naturally he would be shocked, shocked I tell you, that people who are harmed by bigotry might not be able to divorce art from its artist, or "artistic" bigotry from its real, dangerous effect on the zeitgeist and law.
Nojojojo also links to an old post by [personal profile] catvalente which sarcastically says:
Oh, but it should be about the art, shouldn't it? We should separate the art from the artist.
But here's the thing: I think the phrase is a smokescreen.

I mean, when I think of "The Death of the Author," I'm thinking of an outlook that is designed to fundamentally empower readers over authors. So when it comes to, as Yuki_Onna calls it, fuckmuppetry, why is this pulled out as a defense of authors?

Clearly, these writers aren't referencing the same theory I'm thinking of. In fact, they're calling back to New Criticism. New Criticism also plays with the idea of the Intentional Fallacy, but it couples this with the Affective Fallacy, which says that an individual's reader's impressions have no place in interpreting art. Thus interpretation of art is decoupled from both the author and the reader (and history and a whole host of other things) so that it can just be capital-A Art.

And thus the sleight of hand. When writers like Strock call for everyone to divorce the art from the artist, they're actually calling for everyone to divorce the reader from the art.

Now, one can argue that this is appropriate when constructing formal criticism (though, be careful if you do so here, because there are some pretty heavey hitters reading). But the real problem is that the context of all of these previous statements—and of various other discussions regarding social justice issues and author fuckmuppetry—is not of criticism but of reading. The actual physical act of reading, and of the concommitant decisions of what books to buy or request. Reading is not a context from which one can divorce the reader.

And so this is why I'm officially calling bullshit on the "separate the art from the artist" line in these discussions. And I call for others who agree with me to not buy into the framing of our opponents, and call this tactic what it really is: separating the reader from reading.

Am I being unfair to Strock in particular in this analysis? I don't think so. From later in Kate Nepveu's report:
And then—well, I'm pretty sure I didn't actually shout this time. But Strock said something about sensitivity training and how it's supposed to keep people from saying offensive things, and he thinks that maybe we should having training in how not to be offended at things people say, because it just gives the speaker the power to upset you, so why not just ignore it, why get upset.
I mean, this is just the logical extension of divorcing the reader from the reading—divorcing the listener from the listening. I mean, surely, there must be some sort of instruction that may be given such that, in communication, one may receive the communication without reacting to it. That's how the brain works, after all.
tablesaw: "Tablesaw Techniques" (Techniques)
Language Log has a post about the most commonly used word in the English language:
Not surprisingly, first-person singular (FPS) pronouns are used at very high rates in everyday speech. Across thousands of natural conversations that we have recorded, transcribed, and analyzed, the word "I" is consistently the most frequently used word (averaging 4.73% of all words, compared with 0.56% "me" and 0.69% "my").
James W. Pennebaker, "What Is 'I' Saying?"

The post starts with a link to an "I-Exam" that tests your knowledge or instinct of when I is used more often (I scored 8/10), and continues with further insight into when and how I is used in speech.

I think it would be of particular interest to the writers I have on my reading list right now.
tablesaw: -- (Real1)
But it's slow between work, nonwork, and burnout, so Part 2 is still simmering.

In the meantime, I beat two videogames, both puzzles. The first is available online: Blocks with Letters On. It combines several block-moving games with a bit of wordplay, as the blocks need to line up to spell a word at the end. It's pretty simple for most of the 64 levels, but there are a number of very clever designs, and the last few puzzles are killer. In between each level, there's an amusing animation. And there's a sequel, More Blocks with Letters On which brings the total number of levels up to 94.

At home, I finished The Adventures of Lolo, which has been sitting on my Wii Virtual Console for a while. The puzzles were fun, but it did make me long for the later sequels where the puzzles were insane and plentiful.

In books, I finished reading Murder at the Sleepy Lagoon and moved on to Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Fear and Fantasy in Suburban Los Angeles. I also picked up a few new fiction books from Central Library on a lunch break. I guess I need to start actually writing up the [ profile] 50books_poc thing, huh?

Season finales have come and gone, and the DVR is a bit empty right now. Still no idea why Dollhouse survived and Sarah Connor didn't.

I don't listen to lots and lots of music, but this song has been makig me happy today. I think that I'm going to enjoy the chiptunes more than the Weezer originals.


Nov. 18th, 2003 09:44 pm
tablesaw: -- (Default)
I'm glad I didn't even attempt National Novel-Writing Month. I probably couldn't hack National Haiku-Writing Month.
tablesaw: -- (Default)
Earlier, I felt rushed about my in-progress review of Anchorhead for IF-Review. Well, it turns out that my concern was born of misunderstanding; the deadline is for next Friday, which gives me plenty of time to finish (especially since I hurriedly wrote half of it during work last night). Why is it so late? Well, the game was taking much longer to finish than I had anticipated. Frustrated, I checked a guide and discovered that I had neglected to take an action that made the game apparently unwinnable. D'oh! Anyway, to keep up with my personal goal of five reviews in June, I'll need to write two reviews this weekend, which means playing through another game while finishing the Anchorhead review. Any suggestions for something short and sweet?

The Mix-CD poll continues but, I suspect, also draws to a close. Currently, it looks like the winner is going to be Jacob's Ladder, which has not only a slight lead but also several singleton votes (ones where the voter selected it and no other options). Timeline is likely to be a backup, completed later in the year or closer to my next birthday. Supporters of I Love L.A.; Songs About Los Angeles will be pleased to know that the comments of the entry have spawned almost a complete track list in its own.

Oh yeah, and somebody wants props.

SatNYTX: 22. Marvelous theme. I was mostly done by 15, gave up after research failed provide a convincing answer to 44A and related entries. SatLATX: 18.
tablesaw: "Tablesaw Techniques" (Techniques)
Recently, I've found myself in the position of advocating Interactive Fiction (IF) to friends and coworkers not familiar with it. However, recently, my own IF-playing rate has dropped to near nil. This year's IF Competition is approaching, and I still haven't played a single game from last year's. So, I've decided to force myself to play some more, get back into the habit, by dedicating myself to writing a few reviews. (This commitment was much more spur-of-the-moment than it seems. See below.) I don't really have any goals except to play some games that I'd really like to play and that I can finish quickly enough to write five before the month is out. Along those lines, my selections will probably be rather (ahem) "unadventurous," as I suspect I'll be reviewing games I played and liked but never got around to finishing.

This is the case for Review #1: Savoir Faire. I played it furiously when it was released last year, but got stuck on a puzzle, set it down, and never picked it up again. I didn't get horribly stuck, if I recall; stopping the game had more to do with having to sleep than being particularly frustrated by the block. If you don't believe it, read my journal entries from that time. Subsequent journal entries seem to indicate that I was distracted from finishing by a date to see Enigma and some time to complete The Enigma. So, today, I played through the game. All of this is background that I wanted to vent before I wrote the review, which I will now write, and which will be posted in a bit.

Update: The review is now available for review.
tablesaw: -- (Default)
From the Foreword of the Viking Book of Aphorsims by W.H. Auden and Louis Kronenberger in 1962:
At a time . . . when it seems as if it were precisely the worst aspects of out technological culture—our noise, our vulgarity, our insane waste of natural resources—which are the most exportable (European intellectuals who imagine these vices to be of American origin are willfully deceiving themselves), we are bold to think of this volume as evidence that there are others—such as humor and a capacity for self-criticism—which, though less intrusive than jukeboxes and bombs, are neither negligible nor unworthy of respect.

ThuNYTX: 15.
tablesaw: -- (Default)
Dear Anna,

The next time you ask yourself dejectedly "Who would ever want to read what I write?" please pick up a copy of Depth Takes a Holiday or A Year in Van Nuys, or listen, as I did today by chance, to Act III of "First Day" of This American Life entitled "Bad Sex with Bud Kemp," all by bona-fide writer-person Sandra Tsing Loh, who was my literary crush for quite a while and who should remind you that bittersweet, painfully humorous (and/or humorously painful) writing is always welcome when skillfully done.

[ profile] tablesaw


Dec. 17th, 2002 02:30 am
tablesaw: -- (Default)
I just emended my previous entry slightly to keep it all in the same tense. I have a difficult time with it, especially when writing something that evokes my own emotions or sensations. I enter into the story I'm telling and narrate as it is recreated. I think it's an influence of theatre. When someone speaks in the past tense, the listener accepts a layer of distance. In the present tense, there is a demand on the listener to accept it as real-time reality as it happens. The messenger comes on stage and tells of how, just now, he saw Oedipus discover Jocasta. The audience sees the messenger's horror and sympathizes with it. But have that same messenger look offstage and tell the same story as it happens, and the audience is no longer the object of the messengers tale, but through him, they are participants in the scene themselves.

When I write, I want someone to be able to read it as an actor reads, becoming the character or the world actively. Or me.
tablesaw: -- (Default)
This weekend, I spent far too little time writing and puzzling and far too much time sleeping. As a result, (a) I am far behind schedule on NaNoWritMo, and slightly behind schedule on Museum Piece and (b) I feel absolutely fantastic. My history has led me to prize result (b) a good deal more than result (a). But I still have some work to catch up on this week.

I'm refocusing my novel. I was trying to be "novelly," and failing. I'm a playwright at heart, and I'll stick to dialogue and brief descriptions and avoid long narration whenever possible. It looks better, feels better, and doesn't make me sad.

I bought a card table from Target today. The guest number for the Puzzle party is rapidly rising, looking to be about 25. Please, please, please no rain, no rain, no rain. I also bought a Scrabble set (which I needed) and a SpongeBob SquarePants game (which I didn't but which looks moderately fun and has great peripherals).

Yesterday, I dreamt that I dreamt of [ profile] senescence. The weirdness factor was high since (1) it was a dream within a dream, (2) I have never met her, and (3) both dream-in-a-dream me and dream-her were aware that it was a dream (but only of one level) and that we hadn't met yet. Then, I woke up and ended up IMing with her the for many hours. Crazy.

Time for more sleep. Bring it on!

Day 1(/2?)

Nov. 1st, 2002 11:19 am
tablesaw: -- (Default)

A prologue, mostly. Hopefully, it will help me start the main brunt of the story.
tablesaw: -- (Default)
I've got several pictures in my cheap, cheap camera, but my old, old computer is rather finicky about uploading them. Since I've still got some novel to write and since I need to sleep soon, I'm going to leave with one of the more representative shots I have already.

Welcome to my living room. )
tablesaw: -- (Default)
With no vehicles in sight in any direction, Maria waited patiently for the light to turn green. She dug into her purse to pull out a twenty-five-year-old photograph, once vivid, now sinking into sepia, pockmarked and torn. In it, a pretty woman sat on a yellow towel laid out on a beach, smiling at the photographer, ineffectively holding her auburn hair out of her face in the wind. Setting the picture aside, Maria readjusted the rear view mirror, just to be sure. And there it was, her face again. The light changed.
49,905 left.
tablesaw: -- (Default)
Like [ profile] storme, I feel the need to respond to Adam Cadre's recent thoughts on National Novel Writing Month.

Personally, I think that all of his concerns are valid, so I thought I'd clarify my own intentions. I don't intend to write a novel in a month; I do intend to write a "novel." (Use overly dramatic Dr. Evil scarequote inflection for this.) This "novel" will not be complete, but it will be 50,000 words long. I do it this month mostly because my writing has slowed down, especially since my move, and I think that this absurdly compressed timeline will help me get back on track.

I mentioned that I had an idea that I don't know what to do with. I doubt that the "novel" I write in November is what I ought to do with it, but I hope that, after quite a lot of writing on an idea that I haven't explored yet, I'll have a much better idea. I already know, based on the little plotting I've done in my head, that I won't be anywhere near a complete novel when I've written 50,000 words; but I'm writing a "novel" next month, not a novel.

Moreover, there's an aspect that Adam leaves out of his analysis, which is the fun and camaraderie associated with a bunch of people doing the same thing at the same time. There are many people whose casual writing I enjoy who will be participating, and I hope to see what they come up with. There's the odd competition that goes along with comparing wordcounts and nothing else as a measure of success. And there's also the absurdity of calling everyone a novelist, which itself is very fun.

I'll also mention here, since I don't think I have that Mr. Cadre has published a novel, and is a very fine writer also on his website and on [ profile] ifmud, where I often see him.

As for the horrible acronym, I always pronounce it "Na-No-Writ-Mo" making it sound more like a very, very small salsa band.
tablesaw: -- (Default)
I slept in late yesterday, and thusly missed Survivor. I did have a very intriguing dream, however, so I count it no great loss. (Because missing Survivor is normally such a great loss...)

A dream )


I conquered another realm of bachelorhood today, locating and successfully using the local coin-operated laundromat. Hooray for clean underpants. I'm probably going to make Monday or Tuesday mornings my regular time, since it will get me in early enough to have lots and lots of machines.


The reason I've entered myself into NaNoWriMo is that I have had the germ of an idea for a novel for a while now, but didn't really have anything to do with it. I'd rather not discuss it too much yet, except to say that this idea came to my while in the bathroom, for no apparent reason. I'm not a person who does much thinking in the bathroom, but there you are. Or there I was. Or there I went. Whatever.

Anyway, now the wheels are kicking up on it again, though, of course, I'm not writing any text down yet. The working title, Compact Photo is horribly off-base, but it does incorporate the two most important items of the original image. More in November.


My journal is starting to get filled up with notes for my Muses puzzle. You can't see them, but they're there all the same. I've been making more good progress, and am close to having one of my more thorny puzzles worked out. I still have to buckle down and write that flat, though.

I'm in.

Oct. 24th, 2002 11:47 am
tablesaw: -- (Default)
Official NaNoWriMo 2002 Participant

Fifty thousand words? Piece of cake.


Aug. 1st, 2002 01:34 am
tablesaw: -- (Default)
It's been one month since I first started writing clerihews based on the people on my friends list. In that time I've written thirty-six clerihews, encompassing thirty-two friends, leaving twenty-one people clerihewless.

I guess this has been going on long enough that those twenty-one are starting to wonder why they haven't been versified. Well, here's the reason: First, despite the brevity of the verses, these do actually take quite a while to write, often involving extensive research into rhymes and pronunciation. Which leads to the second reason, many of those left to be done have names that I haven't quite figured out how to rhyme/pronounce. Third, I need to feel that I know enough about the subject to encapsulate him or her into four lines, which is difficult sometimes. In fact, there are one or two clerihews I'd like to redo as well.

But to you nineteen ), rest assured that I will get to you as soon as I can.


tablesaw: -- (Default)
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