my mother is a fish, or, As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner

Why have I never read Faulkner before? This was a great story of a terrible family full of selfish people, told in many different voices from at least a dozen points of view.

Faulkner claims that he wrote the novel from midnight to 4:00 AM over the course of six weeks and that he did not change a word of it. This is a little fact I’ve thought of now and then for a long time, even though I’ve never read Faulkner before. I find that idea amazing, if true.

This book told a lot in what it didn’t tell. Mainly , the character’s complete lack of consideration for their recently dead mother. Only the youngest character, Vardaman, even seemed to think of her at all. Jewel made a daring rescue of her body from the fire, but his POV chapters still didn’t have much thought about her, and no one really seemed to mourn at all. They all had their own things on their minds.

I find their perceptions of each other interesting, too. All the family seems to perceive Darl as the ‘slow’ or ‘off’ one, but his chapters are the most lucid and eloquently written ones.

The end of the novel pretty much sums up the entire book in a single event in the final pages. Brilliantly written, and I’ll have to get some more Faulkner in my life very soon.

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is love just imagination?

I was listening to some classical music on my local classical station on the way in to work today, and one song was said to have been composed for a play about a sculpture who fell in love with his statue. After some googling, I think this is Pygmalion, in Greek mythology.

This made me wonder how one could fall in love with a statue. Can one really feel love just from how someone (or, thing) looks? Human’s have great imaginations though. We fall in love with people we haven’t even met by imagining personalities for them based on how they talk or smile or walk or laugh. I suppose it’s not much further a step to fall in love with a completely imagined person who you only know of from an image.

Any kind of love takes a bit of imagination, though… the way someone acts or talks or words they say can be taken many ways. Do we  interpret someones actions in a positive light because we love them, or do we love them because we choose to interpret their words and actions positively?

Maybe we imagine the things we love about real people, too…

can’t write? edit!

I’ve been having some trouble creating lately… so I’ll delete instead! It’s been nearly a year since I reached the end of my novel, so it’s about time I started editing it.

So, I started… and I’m wondering if I’ve really improved that much in the past year, or if I was just blinded by creative juices while writing… because, there’s… so much to fix…

This will be a fun few months rewriting every other paragraph and deleting the endless procession of gerunds.

Wish me luck..

do i hate french authors?

I usually finish a book if I make it past the first chapter or so, but I just couldn’t do it for Madame Bovary.

Something about the way the story is told made it just impossible for me to pay attention or engage with the characters. The imagery and prose was really nice, which kept me hoping ‘maybe it will get going here’ for nearly half the book. But in the end I just kept zoning out so often I had to give up.

I think the problem for me is the story is told from such a ‘zoomed out’ point of view. I felt I was observing all the characters from afar, in a detached kind of way, like they were specimens in a terrarium, instead of living the story through their eyes. Every description of events or scenery surrounding the characters was described in a detached way, from the narrators view, instead of being described through the eyes of the character. It made it very hard to care about anything that was happening.

The last book I gave up on, last year, Swan’s Way by Marcel Proust, also a French classic. Do I hate French novels?

Who knows. I should have quit on it a long time ago though instead of wasting so much time with it.

Now I’ve started ‘As I lay Dying’ and am already feeling much more engaged and interested in what is going on.

Yay.

Hello world

It’s my six year anniversary with this blog. Good golly does time fly.

I feel my writing has improved by orders of magnitude in the past six years, but other parts of me feel I’ve just been treading water. Most of my progress has been internal, and not really evident in the real world. I think these coming years will start to show my improvement with real world results.

Here’s hoping!

digging ditches: the ultimate human achievement?

How many Potential Einsteins, Hawkings, or Nabokovs or Woolfs or Monets or O’Keeffes are out there stuck digging ditches or scrubbing floors in order to survive? How much art and literature and scientific discoveries are the rest of us missing out on in favor of that floor being cleaned by a person rather than a machine?

We have the means to eliminate huge swaths of labor via robotics and AI. But with the current structure of our society focused so hard on earning money via labor, the elimination of those jobs would harm people rather than help them. But it doesn’t need to be this way.

Imagine you and your family live in a big house, and the only thing required of you to live there is to keep it clean and repaired. You wash the windows, wax the floors, fix any electronic problems, repaint the walls, vacuum, dust, sweep, mop, etc, and in exchange for all this work, you can live in some rooms in the house.

Now imagine you and your family invent a robot that can do all this cleaning for you. Cool! Now all the required labor is being done, and you can relax and use your time for other more meaningful, human activities.

Except that’s not what would happen in our society. The member of the family that just happened to have his name on the deed of the house would buy their own robot, and kick everyone else onto the streets and have their big empty house with no one living in it. Then they’d take the money they save from not having to feed so many people, and buy another house, also with no one to live in it except the robot that cleans it.

Our society is that family. We, most of the members of that family, work hard to keep the infrastructure running, to keep things clean and functional. We, the family that is our society, are also on the verge of inventing a tool to do all this work for us, to keep up the maintenance for us. But instead of celebrating this, we’re worried. All because our rich uncle feels we have to be working on the house in order to live in it.

When the robot workforce comes–and it will–huge numbers of people will be functionally forced out of society because there are no more floors to scrub. If we want to avoid this, we need to change the way we think about work and money.

We need socialism if we are going to survive our own technology. We need to change the mindset toward labor as a means of survival, and instead look at it as crude necessity that we are about to eliminate. We should enjoy the results of that elimination, not punish ourselves for it.

Not writing is depressing

Fingers gotta type words, and mine haven’t been.

My blog has been stagnating, oops! And I’m wondering if this is having an effect on my current project not moving forward. My gears are rusting perhaps…

I find that whenever I go too long without making progress on whatever I’m writing, I get really down. I feel the world is terrible and life is a crock and everything is pointless. Then I break through whatever wall I was stuck at and suddenly everything is great again… so transparent, but somehow I can never see it in the moment and realize ‘hey, I’m not feeling good. I must really need to write something…’

Type the words, Jonas, type the words!