Tag: Literature

The Capote Tapes – Trailer

Answered Prayers was meant to be Truman Capote’s greatest masterpiece, an epic portrait of NYC’s glittering jet-set society. Instead, it sparked his downfall. Through never before heard audio archive and interviews with Capote’s friends and enemies, this intimate documentary reveals the rise and fall of one America’s most iconic writers.

With unprecedented access to access to George Plimpton’s taped interviews for his biography, Truman Capote: In Which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Career. The documentary features interviews with Dick Cavett, André Leon Talley, Jay McInerney & Dotson Rader and introduces audiences to Kate Harrington, who the daughter of one of his lovers, John O’Shea, and in which Capote served in a surrogate father role. Previously never disclosing any details before, Kate opens up about living life with Truman Capote during this period, and shines a new light on his character through their close relationship.

Plague Driving People Nuts – Journal of the Plague Year – Daniel Defoe

Nay, a few were so enthusiastically ambitious as to run approximately the streets with their oral predictions, pretending they were despatched to evangelise to the town; and one mainly, who, like Jonah to Nineveh, cried within the streets, ‘Yet 40 days, and London will be destroyed.’ I will not be superb whether he said yet 40 days or but some days. Another ran about naked, except a pair of drawers about his waist, crying day and night time, like a person that Josephus mentions, who cried, ‘Woe to Jerusalem!’ a little earlier than the destruction of that city. So this terrible naked creature cried, ‘Oh, the remarkable and the dreadful God!’ and stated no extra, but repeated the ones words continually, with a voice and countenance complete of horror, a speedy tempo; and nobody should ever discover him to stop or rest, or take any sustenance, at least that ever I ought to hear of. I met this terrible creature several times within the streets, and might have spoken to him, however he might not enter into speech with me or anyone else, but held on his dismal cries always.

A Journal of the Plague Year
Daniel Defoe

Some time in the first few months of Covid, in 2020, there was a guy walking down the street outside my place. “Fuck Covid!” He yelled, loud enough for the neighborhood to hear. My guess was that he’d just lost some job prospect, or something fell through due to the shutdown.

What Literature Can Do

But what literature does, which formal philosophy for example commonly does not – and what literature can hardly help doing – is yield more than its writers know. In thinking about human life, it offers as much excess, untidied material as it can by not only thinking but re-creating the very objects of thought—offering more from within the very middle of things, I will argue, than a more secondary discipline can provide with more formally set starts and goals. Writers offer this by creating not so much a line of argument as a resonant space for thinking. In a book on his reading called A Dish of Orts (1893), the Victorian fantasy writer George MacDonald speaks of Wordsworth as a poet not so much offering ideas as putting the reader into the places (physical, mental, and situational) from which such ideas originally arise so that they come of themselves.

Davis, Philip. Reading and the Reader: The Literary Agenda

Author vs Imagined Author – Bertrand Russell Anecdote

I remember meeting for the first time one of the leading literary men in America, a man whom I had supposed from his books to be filled with melancholy. But it so happened that at that moment the most crucial baseball results were coming through on the radio; he forgot me, literature, and all the other sorrows of our sublunary life, and yelled with joy as his favorites achieved victory. Ever since this incident, I have been able to read his books without feeling depressed by the misfortunes of his characters.

Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness.

“Part of the attraction of The Lord of the Rings is, I think, due to the glimpses of a large history in the background: an attraction like that of viewing far off an unvisited island, or seeing the towers of a distant city gleaming in a sunlit mist. To go there is to destroy the magic, unless new unattainable vistas are again revealed.” — J. R. R. Tolkien

J. R. R. Tolkien was a master of Worldbuilding, working on his Middle-Earth world from about WW1 until his death. The Lord of the Rings is full of lovingly crafted and referred-to details, many of which are left unexplained, whose stories first got public with the posthumous publications of the earlier stories.

  • One thing Tolkien knew from his studies as a linguist and English teacher is that some of the old myths recreate the Cryptic Background Reference effect entirely by accident, when the relevant poems or stories are lost — the medieval Finns probably had an explanation of what a Sampo (from The Kalevala) is, for example, but it didn’t survive the Middle Ages.
  • Then there are some things which never got elaborated on, even posthumously, like in The Hobbit when Bilbo makes reference to “the wild Were-worms in the Last Desert.” Nothing remotely similar is ever even spoken of again.
  • “Far, far below the deepest delvings of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things.”
  • Half of fun of reading Tolkien is this. Go read The Silmarillion and go back and read The Lord of the Rings. Now revel in all the references most people didn’t get the first time around. That part of the song Aragorn sings in The Fellowship of the Ring about Beren and Lúthien? Now you know the whole story. Bilbo’s song about Eärendil that Aragorn seemed to find so cheeky to sing in Rivendell? It was about Elrond’s father (and mother) who he hasn’t seen in five thousand years and probably dredged up some bad memories about the ransacking of his home when he was a child by the sons of Fëanor. The list goes on.
  • The Second Prophecy of Mandos, which describes what the end of the world will be like, is referenced (though not by name) in virtually all of the canonical stories of Middle-earth. However, the prophecy itself does not appear in canon — only in Tolkien’s earlier drafts for The Silmarillion.


The 25 Greatest Science Fiction Tropes


25. Cryosleep
24. Generation Ships
23. Psychics
22. Ancient Astronauts
21. Space Pirates
20. Uploaded Consciousness
19. Benevolent Aliens
18. Killer Aliens
17. Alien Artifacts
16. Nanotechnology
15. Wormholes
14. Parallel Worlds
13. Interspecies Romance
12. AI Uprisings
11. Clones
10. Body Modifications
9. Robots
8. Faster-Than-Light Travel
7. Big Dumb Objects
6. Mutants
5. Dystopian Governments
4. After the Apocalypse
3. First Contact
2. Time Travel
1. Sentient Spaceships

Happy Bloomsday

Bloomsday is a commemoration and celebration of the life of Irish writer James Joyce, observed annually in Dublin and elsewhere on 16 June, the day his 1922 novel Ulysses takes place in 1904, the date of his first outing with his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle, and named after its protagonist Leopold Bloom.