To someone who does not yet exist everything is, inevitably, a matter of complete indifference, just as it is for someone who has died. Both are nothing, neither possesses any consciousness, the former cannot even sense what its life will be and the latter cannot recall it, as if he or she had never had a life.

—Javier Marías

Inspiration is enigmatic. It involves a kind of receptiveness, for which ‘negative capability’, shamanic revelation, Dadaist games of chance and McCarthy’s echo chamber are a name, but also an answering desire to suspend reason or wilful deliberation: a willingness to admit an empowering spirit into the work, to render it productive. The artist must embrace dispossession, acknowledging the authority of a possessing voice, but it is also necessary to assume responsibility for the work, to shape and realise what has been received such that it might inspire others in turn.

—Lars Iyer

Saul Leiter
Now I am quietly waiting for    the catastrophe of my personality    to seem beautiful again,    and interesting, and modern.
—Frank O’Hara

Saul Leiter

Now I am quietly waiting for
    the catastrophe of my personality
    to seem beautiful again,
    and interesting, and modern.

—Frank O’Hara

#Orwell #1984

One after another they climbed up and occupied the top rail of the fence, hump-shouldered and grave, like a company of buzzards assembled for supper and listening for the death-rattle.

#MarkTwain #TheGildedAge

#NelsonAlgren, Division Street, 1952.

To disappear in that way, to enter a state of selflessness, is something I believe every musician, painter, actor, director and writer knows. It lies at the very base of creation.

—Karl Ove Knausgård @nytimes

Mornings with clouds. Windy mornings. Mornings with black wind rushing like water. The trees quiver, the windows are creaking like a ship. It’s going to rain.

—James Salter

#NormanMaclean teaching Shakespeare

#NormanMaclean teaching Shakespeare

Maclean uses his little car without lugging the engine; he doesn’t have to stop talking to shift. He understands the car, but then, he understands the canned peaches in his refrigerator. He can tell you where in Oregon they come from, how they’re canned, and maybe what is done with the pits. He knows his furniture, each of his trees, every log in his cabin—faults and graces—all on a personal basis. He knows everything he touches. Knowing what has touched him has been harder.

—Pete Dexter on Norman Maclean

I gave up my complicated life on the spot; and lay screwed up like an old handkerchief screwed up in a pocket, suspended in time, ready to go to the ends of the earth. O trans-Siberian railways! Balloons! Astronauts.

—Rosemary Tonks

Meanwhile …I live on…powerful, disobedient,
Inside their draughty haberdasher’s climate,
With these people…who are going to obsess me,
Potatoes, dentists, peoples I hardly know, it’s unforgiveable
For this is not my life
But theirs, that I am living.
And I wolf, bolt, gulp it down, day after day.

—Rosemary Tonks

In the end, the question here is, what is a story? Two hundred years ago, there would have been deep disagreement. A story needed a pirate, a magic lantern, good rewarded. Then the 19th century rolls around, Poe arrives at the notion that good doesn’t get rewarded always. There are options. And Chekhov says, “I’m going to write a story and the way you will know it’s over is that a character has a realization.” If we could figure out a new way for our story to end, we would change history. But right now, a story can end with a realization. Which means a story can happen in a kitchen in a bad part of town, or on a street like this.
—Stuart Dybek @chicagotribune

A Chicago novel needs violence, a main character who has heart but struggles with his dark side. It needs to open the doors to the streets and neighborhoods of the city as they are and as they were. It needs to hit a bastard in the mouth and put him flat on his ass and it needs to kiss a woman hard and true and take her breath away. It needs to ruffle the hair of the youth and give them something to strive for and it needs to make the old grin with pride. It needs to remind us that we are a complex city but at the same time that we are one, of one origin and one future and that we need to constantly strive to unite and grow together.