23 February 2012

Suppose that the world’s author put the case to you before creation, saying: “I am going to make a world not certan to be saved, a world the perfection of which shall be conditional merely, the condition being that each several agent does its own “level best.” I offer you the chance of taking part in such a world. Its safety, you see, is unwarranted. It is a real adventure, with real danger, yet it may win through.  It is a social scheme of co-operative work genuinely to be done.  Will you join the procession?  Will you trust yourself and trust the other agents enough to face the risk?

Should you in all seriousness, if participation in such a world were proposed to you, feel bound to reject it as not safe enough? [...]

In the end it is our faith and not our logic that decides such questions, and I deny the right of any pretended logic to veto my own faith.  I find myself willing to take the universe to be really dangerous and adventurous, without therefore backing out and crying ‘no play.’ I am willing to think that the prodigal-son attitude, open to us as it is in many vicissitudes, is not the right and final attitude towards the whole of life.  I am willing that there should  be real losses and real losers, and no total preservation of all that is.  I can believe in the ideal as an ultimate, not as an origin, and as an extract, not the whole.  When the cup is poured off, the dregs are left behind for ever, but the possibility of what is poured off is sweet enough to accept.

-from “Pragmatism and Religion”

14 February 2012

I’m awfully glad to hear that Carrie Tiffany has a new novel out!  (I wrote about  her first novel Everyman’s Rules for Scientific Livingat The Second Pass, a couple years back.) It’s called Mateship With Birds and it’s been published by Picador. Read more about it in this interview with CT here.

I’d had a brief email exchange with Carrie Tiffany back in 2009; she said she was really struggling with the second book, and also not finding much time to write (children, full-time job, etc).  That the book is being released now, in 2012, makes my heart pitter-patter (appropriately, on this Valentine’s Day?), because it means that this very talented woman, with as many life challenges as anyone to deal with, got down to it: she got it done, despite the obstacles.  Three cheers!

Here’s what Tiffany herself says about her slow process (she wrote an entire novel that she ultimately threw away):

If you’re wondering why there were seven years between her novels, part of the answer is that she wrote another novel. Freud in the Bush grew out of that first short story about a snake. In reality, the great psychoanalyst sent a paper to an Australian conference in 1911. Tiffany imagined he attended to give a paper, On the Pouch, and took a train inland from Spencer Street Station. When the novel was finished she threw it away. ”I realised I was making fun of him,” she says. ”The more I read of Freud, the more I was convinced a great many of his discoveries were correct – that what we really want as adults is what we wanted as children, that dreams often point to repressed desires, that sexual repression manifests itself in the body in a variety of ways. I could no longer treat the subject with the irony I had intended.” [...]

Don’t expect another novel from Tiffany in a hurry. She has begun writing one, set in the 1970s. However, she says, ”People write too much. They write to prove they’re still writers”. She writes slowly and in the end, ”I hand in a postage stamp and the publisher says, ‘More, more!’ I’m definitely a miniaturist.”

I’m not sure where to find the novel at this point – it’s not yet on Amazon or Powell’s.  But I’ll keep looking.

9 February 2012

So I am teaching myself to knit.

In this picture are three swatches — practice pieces for three different kinds of stitches.  Hoorah!  I can do three different kinds of stitches!

But that pile of yarn is the unraveled mess of a scarf I started.  I was going along pretty good there for a while, maybe 1/4 of the way… then suddenly it all went wrong.  I didn’t know what had happened or what had gone wrong, and the more I tried to figure it out, the worse it got.  I’d unravel a section, then try to restart from that point forward, but then it became clear that I wasn’t restarting correctly, so the mess reiterated itself, and then I’d unravel a little more, etc.  In other words, for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how to save what I’d done; I had to unravel the whole damn thing.

The writing analogy is a little frightening to consider.

That 1/4 scarf existed; I’m the only one who knows this, can verify it.  Was it a “waste” of time?  Well, at least I learned to slow down, and to pay attention.  My next lesson will be teaching myself how to fix mistakes.

Unraveling takes seconds.  The word is onomatopoetic, it slips off the tongue.  When we make something, build something, stitch by stitch, word by word, it is definitely not raveling.

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