On the topic of academia, back when I was teaching A level English, after doing some preliminary work with a class, I set them a question: ‘Do you read the text or does the text read you?’
Half the class never returned.
I’m not sure I blame them. Literary theories are fun, but they’re not telling any stories. They’re not doing anything remotely useful. Apart from, I suppose, providing work for literary theorists.
I have the chance to do a PhD in creative writing, and it is very tempting. Essentially it involves writing and a novel and then critiquing it from various angles using, I guess, a variety of arcane literary theories, none of which I agree with, but all of which I’ve grappled with before, back when I did my MA.
This wafer was created from a line from The Card. Love it.
I don’t know if it’s the drugs or the meditation, or some happy combination of both, but the migraines, while still ever-present, and while still knocking me flat for a couple of days a week, aren’t having such a deleterious effect.
It seems that I still get the lights and the brain ache and the mood swings and the muscle aches and stuff, but none are quite as long-lasting. Well, the headaches are a bit worse, but they’re over sooner.
Here’s Nassim Taleb’s variation on an old joke:
“You have a million manuscripts on the market, for novels and fiction, and most people who write novels in America – I don’t know about Europe – they work for Starbucks.”
I have to say, it’s pretty much the same this side of the lake. Taleb goes on to explain that of those million manuscripts, maybe twenty thousand will be published, and about thirty-five will make the majority of the profit.
So who’d be a writer?
The short novels of John Steinbeck.
I read them in my teens and they unsettled me, but in a completely good way. Like waking from a deep sleep and looking out of the window and, for the first time, seeing the world as it ought to be.
I’m on holiday from the day job this coming week so tonight I bent busking with my tenor, just for an hour or so, and for some reason it sounded really good. It wasn’t so much my playing as the entire feel; the place was buzzing with lots of students and families, and happy drunks and stuff; at one point I had some happy drunk guys singing and dancing to Tequila (not one I usually play, tbh).
Then a copper came along and told me I needed a licence. He was really nice, almost apologetic, he even smiled when I began playing the theme from the Sweeney, and he said to keep playing that night, but he said that in future I’d needed to pay several hundred pounds to the council for the pleasure of making a racket to drunks. He wouldn’t want to nick me but the CCTV would spot me and he’d be forced to.
Toward the end, a guy came over and complimented my playing: he was slim, with white blonde curly hair and a lovely face and I thought afterwards, maybe he was an angel, but either way, it was a fun night.
Oh, and I wrote a bit today too!
Frank loaded my external hard drive with some movies. Some really interesting, thought-provoking, sensitive movies: Youth, a movie about a composer coming to terms with old age, The End of the Tour, a movie about a writer and his scribe…blah blah. The only one I could contemplate watching was Hitman 5.
I can’t read literary books and I can’t watch the equivalent movies. It’s like, I’ve done all that, and I’m done with all that. I don’t know if it’s impatience, lack of intellectual funds, or maybe that they’re a bit boring.
Just give me junk fiction, and mindless movies.
…having said that, I’ve just sat through the opening 5 minutes of Hitman – volume whatever – and I can’t continue with it either; it’s dire. So it’s back to talk radio as the accompaniment to whatever else I’m doing at the time.
I find myself listening more and more to John Coltrane. I don’t get tire of him.
I’ve heard people say that he lacks technique, that his soprano sax sound is weak and all kinds of stuff, but I really don’t care, he’s the giant upon whose whose shoulders we sit.
He’s it, as far as I’m concerned; he tears it up. Everyone else is swinging at shadows.
As Mickey Hall tells it in Dealer No. 1, if a movie title contains a colon, it’s crap. Two titles separated by a colon doesn’t create a broader appeal, it just demonstrates creative indecision.
Same goes for books: one title is enough for anyone.