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45 posts tagged writing

There was always the sense that if somebody wrote a piece, and it was sort of a bombastic, incendiary thing, that the assumption was a large majority of the people consuming it will disagree with it, or at least a large minority— they will read it and say “I hate this guy” or whatever.

But what has changed is the ability to actually put together an army of like-minded people and serve as a kind of cultural police to stop that from happening. I’m certainly not the first person to say this or think this, but over time, all technology is great in the short term and has problems in the long term. The long term effect of the internet and our ability to communicate is going to be a chilling effect on people’s ability to express ideas. You already see this in things like stand-up comedy, where many comedians will say now it’s not worth going to a small club to try out risky new material because the downside is so great, that somebody has their phone recording what you’re saying and putting it on the internet can end your career.

You can still write whatever you want, and people can mobilize against it, and you’re still kinda protected by law, but any reasonable person thinks to themselves— is this worth it? Is the downside to what will happen to having a contrarian point of view— that could destroy my livelihood and just be this thing that I can’t get away from, is it worth it?

Contrary opinions are sometimes really important and you don’t want them only being made by people who are too myopic to care about the reaction.

Chuck Klosterman. (via twiststreet)

One of the great things I’ve gotten to see in life how much progress there’s been in consciousness about race, gender, sexual orientation etc.  But there is also a disturbing trend toward the intolerance of differing points of view, of the bullied becoming the bullying and a kind of lynch mob mentality that reflexively calls for speech to be censored and people’s careers and reputations to be destroyed if they fuck up.  I worry that it’s making the world a bit less safe to create the best kind of art, the kind that provokes and offends and challenges your world view.  I haven’t read Klosterman’s whole piece but I thought this excerpt really spoke to that.

Reblogged from twiststreet

Dark Souls II encourages a kind of amazed storytelling about how it was one managed to survive. The game is so large and hostile to the player’s presence every moment feels like a precursor to some cruel twist or miraculous delivery from unexpected doom that could merit retelling. Victories and discovery only become meaningful to an audience who knows how much work must be put into them, and so these player tales are implicitly clouded by the unspoken murk of failure and defeat. This structure of play is ideally matched with a culture of emotionally and socially isolated individuals—still primarily men—who rush toward non-intimate prompts for social exchange, creating the impression of a community without requiring any reciprocal vulnerability nor emotional obligation. Dark Souls provides an empirical baseline to use in describing one’s own experience, which makes admissions of weakness or incompetence tolerable through the impersonal nature of the game’s system. There no psychoanalytic backdrop to distinguish sorcerers from warriors or thieves.

Forbes review of a game called Dark Souls II— videogame people seem quite upset about it and anything that upsets that kind of person is usually pretty worthwhile.  I just like reading “structure of play is ideally matched with a culture of emotionally and socially isolated individuals" in a game review a lot. (via twiststreet)

…Man, Demon’s Souls is one of favorite games of all time - a lot of hours sunk into that.  I still haven’t finished the first Dark Souls and the 2nd beckons but frightens me because of what a huge time sink I know it will be.  Not sure I completely agree with the depressing sentiment above essay - that Dark Souls II (and games in general) are masturbatory and unlike other art don’t don anything but teach you to be good at that game - but it’s a provocative read.

Reblogged from twiststreet

He could still be wild and self-destructive, and the psychiatrists had been no help. All he knew was that within him, simmering in the smithy of his soul, were confusion and conflict, and they were probably all linked somehow with Ireland and the Church, with his smashing up so many cars that his license had to be taken away, and with marching in Ban-the-Bomb parades, with becoming obsessed with Lawrence of Arabia, with detesting cops, barbed wire, and girls who shave under their arms; with being an aesthete, a horse player, a former altar boy, a drinker who now wanders streets at night buying the same book (“My life is littered with copies of Moby Dick”) and reading the same sermon on that book (“…and if we obey God, we must disobey ourselves…”); with being gentle generous, sensitive, yet suspicious (“You’re talking to an Irish bookie’s son, you can’t con me!”); with devotion to his wife, loyalty to old friends, great concern over the uncertain eyesight of his three-year-old daughter, now wearing very thick glasses (“Daddy, Daddy! I broke my eyes!” “Don’t cry, Kate, don’t cry—we’ll get you a new pair”); with theatrical genius that is equally moving whether performing pantomime or Hamlet; with anger that can be sudden (“Why should I tell you the truth? Who are you, Bertrand Russell?”) and with anger that quickly subsides (“Look, I’d tell you if I knew why, but I don’t know, just don’t know…”); and with the as yet unrealized contradictions in the Peter O’Toole who, at this very moment, was about to land in Ireland…where he was born thirty-one years ago…where he would have his next drink.

Fucking Gay Talese.  Fuck!  That guy… Him writing about Peter O’Toole in August 1963. (via twiststreet)

While this is no “Frank Sinatra Gets a Cold”, Gay Talese’s piece on Peter O’Toole is the best tribute to him you’ll ever read, even if it was written 50 years before O’Toole’s death.

Reblogged from twiststreet

Elmore Leonard’s death hit me pretty hard today. I’m sure other writers can speak more eloquently about his body of work or how he influenced them. All I have to offer is the following story. Back when BE COOL, the sequel to GET SHORTY, was published, Elmore Leonard did a reading near where I lived in Manhattan, at The Mercury Lounge. The reason for the venue was that the real-lifeband he featured in the book, the Stone Coyotes, was going to perform after he read. I found out about the reading last minute, and didn’t have any of his books with me. So I ran into a Shakespeare and Co. and bought one of his few crime books I hadn’t read - SWITCH. I chose it because I’d remembered that it was the first Elmore Leonard book Quentin Tarantino read - in fact, QT shoplifted it. I got there expecting a throng of people to be surrounding Mr. Leonard, but he was just kind of chilling. I asked his agent or publicist if he’d mind signing my book, and she said he’d love to. Even 10 or 15 years ago, the man behind all that hard boiled crime and Western was…frail. I’m not a big guy, but I felt like I might crush him. He was also soft spoken, and, for lack of a better word, sweet. He talked to me about writing for a while after signing Switch. I wish I could remember what words of encouragement he offered, but I couldn’t get over the incongruity between the man and his words. Then he got up to read. I was nervous. There was no way this couldn’t be disappointing. It was going to be like hearing Rudolph Valentino’s squeaky voice breaking the illusion of silent film. But it wasn’t. “Dutch”. as he insisted I call him, gave on of the most inspired, lively readings I’ve ever heard. He acted out every part, used the n-word in more creative ways that I could’ve imagined, and was more rock and roll than the Stone Coyotes that followed him. It’s one of the rare times a hero didn’t disappoint, and I’ll be forever grateful for that experience. Rest in Peace, Dutch. poster by Francesco Francavilla
art via: francavillarts:

Elmore Leonard’s death hit me pretty hard today. I’m sure other writers can speak more eloquently about his body of work or how he influenced them. All I have to offer is the following story.

Back when BE COOL, the sequel to GET SHORTY, was published, Elmore Leonard did a reading near where I lived in Manhattan, at The Mercury Lounge. The reason for the venue was that the real-lifeband he featured in the book, the Stone Coyotes, was going to perform after he read.

I found out about the reading last minute, and didn’t have any of his books with me. So I ran into a Shakespeare and Co. and bought one of his few crime books I hadn’t read - SWITCH. I chose it because I’d remembered that it was the first Elmore Leonard book Quentin Tarantino read - in fact, QT shoplifted it.

I got there expecting a throng of people to be surrounding Mr. Leonard, but he was just kind of chilling. I asked his agent or publicist if he’d mind signing my book, and she said he’d love to.

Even 10 or 15 years ago, the man behind all that hard boiled crime and Western was…frail. I’m not a big guy, but I felt like I might crush him. He was also soft spoken, and, for lack of a better word, sweet. He talked to me about writing for a while after signing Switch. I wish I could remember what words of encouragement he offered, but I couldn’t get over the incongruity between the man and his words.

Then he got up to read. I was nervous. There was no way this couldn’t be disappointing. It was going to be like hearing Rudolph Valentino’s squeaky voice breaking the illusion of silent film.

But it wasn’t. “Dutch”. as he insisted I call him, gave on of the most inspired, lively readings I’ve ever heard. He acted out every part, used the n-word in more creative ways that I could’ve imagined, and was more rock and roll than the Stone Coyotes that followed him.

It’s one of the rare times a hero didn’t disappoint, and I’ll be forever grateful for that experience. Rest in Peace, Dutch.

poster by Francesco Francavilla

art via: francavillarts:

Reblogged from francavillarts

Ever wonder exactly what it is I do? My good friend, screenwriter Josh A Cagan hosts a brilliant, hysterical podcast called “Like I’m an Idiot”, where he has guests explain to him such topics as Directing Film, Stand Up Comedy and Dogs as if he were, well, like an idiot. This week, I was fortunate enough to be a guest and try to explain what it’s like to write comics. I hope it is much entertaining to listen to as it was for me to be on.
Listen to it here: http://www.muleradio.net/likeimanidiot/22/

Ever wonder exactly what it is I do?

My good friend, screenwriter Josh A Cagan hosts a brilliant, hysterical podcast called “Like I’m an Idiot”, where he has guests explain to him such topics as Directing Film, Stand Up Comedy and Dogs as if he were, well, like an idiot.

This week, I was fortunate enough to be a guest and try to explain what it’s like to write comics. I hope it is much entertaining to listen to as it was for me to be on.

Listen to it here: http://www.muleradio.net/likeimanidiot/22/

Community’s Dan Harmon on his writing process

Was just watching the pilot of Community for a writing class I’m going to be teaching in the fall for The School of Visual Arts.  Although the show gets immeasurably better, the pilot still holds up, distilling the show’s humanistic essence simply and elegantly.  (I’ll post Jeff Winger’s speech from that show at some point, which is brilliant).

I’m fascinated by Dan Harmon’s writing process, which shares some things with mine but goes off brilliantly in other directions.  Anyway, here’s his answer to an Ask Me Anything that I somehow can’t reblog.  More writing related tumblr posts to come:

"Start with random IDEAS.  Ideas can be anything - Poop is an idea, America, pickles, the number six, a raccoon, anything.

Some ideas will reveal related ideas, i.e. you may think, upon thinking about raccoons, that you have more than one thought about raccoons.  Clouds of related ideas that your mind recognizes as related in any way are potential story AREAS.  Look for areas that make you laugh and cry.

Draw a circle to symbolize your area, because your story will take the “reader” through related ideas in a path around a central idea.  You don’t have to know what the central idea is.  It’s probably dumb.  For God’s sake, you’re writing about raccoons.

Divide your circle into a top half and bottom half and ask yourself what those halves might be.  Like, your raccoon area might become divided into “positive thoughts about raccoons” and “negative thoughts about raccoons.”  If the division doesn’t feel charged for you, pick something else, like male raccoon thoughts and female raccoon thoughts, or biological raccoon thoughts and storybook raccoon thoughts.  At some point, you will divide your area into two parts that create a personal “charge” for you, like a battery.  ”Ooo, I like the idea that there’s a difference between biological raccoons and storybook raccoons, that tingled when I drew that line, I want to know more.” <— that’s my impression of you nailing it.

Divide the divided circle down the middle and pick another charged dichotomy for left and right.  For instance, biological/storybook raccoon area could get divided into dishonest/honest.  

Now you have four quadrants to your circle, going clockwise: biological dishonest raccoon, storybook dishonest raccoon, storybook honest raccoon, biological honest raccoon.  Any point at which you stop feeling charged, go back a step or start over.  Maybe you had to get this far to realize you don’t give a shit about raccoons.  Please note that at this point, people around you will start to express confusion and frustration, because they thought the idea was fine already.  Depending on your mood and standing, these people are called hacks, traitors, parasites, scabs or successful colleagues.

When you find an area that yields four charged quadrants, experiment with protagonists.  Easy answer first, maybe I’m a raccoon.  So once upon a time there was a dishonest biological raccoon that became a storybook raccoon, which lead to him becoming honest before finally going back to being biological again.  Cool?  If not, go back or start over.  Again, please note that many people will not want you to go back or start over.  These people will one day drown in their own blood while you point and laugh with God.  Or maybe they’re good people and you just have Asperger’s.

Then you keep dividing the pie, adding “curvature” to the protagonist’s path with the 8 point story structure you can find me blathering about elsewhere online.

Create more characters as needed, give them their own stories as needed.

Repeat every day until rich people give you money to do it for them.  Buy a house, become one of them and hire poor people to do it for you.  Somewhere in there try to get a dog and a funny girlfriend or it’s all pretty pointless.  Speaking of which, I just realized I’m the only one at the office. Thank you for this question.”

Tesla vs. Edison Debate Ignites at SxSW

txchnologist:

image

by Matthew Van Dusen

Paleofuture blogger Matt Novak’s South by Southwest March 11 talk on the Edison versus Tesla debate and myth of the lone inventor went electric when web comic artist Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal, whose Tesla comic spurred the debate, showed up to defend his work.

“The goal with my comic wasn’t to write nonfiction, it was more to paint a portrait of Tesla’s character and why I admire that and why I admire geeks in general,”* Inman said when he emerged from the audience to ask a question at the end of the session. 

Novak had taken issue with Inman’s viral comic “Why Nikola Tesla was the greatest geek who ever lived” comic, saying that it fed the “Great Man Theory of History” and the myth of the lone inventor.

Read More

The only thing more insidious that “the myth of the lone inventor” is the myth of the lone artist/writer/creator.  We’re all only as good as our collaborators and our influences, and to believe otherwise is hubris.

Reblogged from txchnologist