I’m still not writing much because my mind is still acting like this a lot. Here are some people who are more interesting than I’ve been during the past month:
- At Comics Comics, an interview with a French cartoonist named Brecht Evans. I’m linking to this interview because it contains a sentence I think I ought to keep in mind:
I spend much more time staring at the drawing than drawing, to spot possibilities hiding in the unfinished image.
- In Fred Clark’s ongoing dissection of the Left Behind books at Slacktivist appeared another piece of embedded wisdom on the creation of art, which I also want to pull out and save:
To create is to love, but apparently not always. Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins do not love Hattie Durham. They despise their creation. Their contempt for her and disgust with her is tangible in every scene she appears in.
I think the authors expect their readers to share in this contempt, but that’s not how this works. When an artist creates a character that the artist does not love, readers or audience members don’t come to dislike that character, they come to dislike the artist. It is the writer — or actor, or painter — who reveals himself as unlovely. The character just becomes an expression of that unloveliness.
When one encounters a character like Hattie, a creation unloved by her creators, one has to wonder why she came to be at all. Creation takes work, so why put in all that effort for something you do not love?
- Jo Walton, creator of the term “incluing,” coins another useful word:
Protagonismos, the quality of being the kind of person to whom things happen.
- Kip Manley, at Long Story, Short Pier, with one of those “oh, yeah, that’s what that genre is for” moments you get sometimes from good criticism–in this case, in a post about what’s driving Urban Fantasy. (Or what we called Urban Fantasy, before the term was grafted onto the Angsty Vampire subgenre.)
No, the point is the moment just before, the moment when the thing there on the side of the building shivered, or could have shivered, maybe, if the light had been right; when a wonder-generating mechanism of fantasy reattached itself however briefly to something any one of us could see out in the world: cables; snakes; pythia: not a portal opening onto some secondary world beyond the fields we know, but something indisputably here and now: contemporary; indigenous; syncretic.
The only reason it’s urban is because so very many of us who make it and read it these days live in cities. (Or suburbs, yes. Or exurbs. Urban. Look at the words.)
- Lance Mannion has written a three-part essay on a point of similarity between P. J. O’Rourke, as he presents himself in a recent essay, and Ebenezer Scrooge. Part one, part two, and part three.
Quiz the O’Rourkes of the world and they’ll tell you, usually in no uncertain terms, that they have a Scrooge-like opinion of their fellow men and women.
Everybody—everybody else, that is—is a fool, an incompetent, or a would-be thief, which turns out to be a very useful thing to believe because it provides an instant defense against arguments that they are somehow responsible for and obligated to other people. Nobody deserves your help if everybody is by definition and natural design undeserving.
At the heart of O’Rourke’s grumpy old man post about elections not changing anything until we stop electing professional politicians to office is the Scrooge-like belief that it’s not just professional politicians who are fools, incompetents, and thieves. Everyone who collects a government paycheck—especially teachers—and all the other kids in his kids’ school and their parents are also fools, incompetents, and a form of thief, which pretty much amounts to an argument that the public school system is dedicated to employing and serving the undeserving but also, by extension, that all public services are dedicated to employing and serving the undeserving.