love

February 11, 2020

Making love to a ghost is what I suppose anybody might
easily mistake for masturbation. Your love is here, thrusting,
pulsing, pushing my blood through my burning heart. This is
the closest you ever made me feel to alive.

Alma Blood
Fragments #1.

heat-haze mirage

February 11, 2020

Shrugging in annoyance he picked up his scythe and turned back to the grass; to become aware of a short, squat figure watching him from beneath the tree. For an instant he thought it was a dense cloud of the little gnats that had been pestering him, drawn to his perspiration; then he thought it was a heat-haze mirage. Whatever it was, its scrutiny had the effect of immobilizing him while it drew nearer.

David G. Rowlands
The Apples of Sodom

literally spell-binding

February 11, 2020

I’ve loved fairy tales, folklore, and myth since I was a child, and then studied myth and folklore at university — so when I discovered fantasy (an entire genre full of fiction and art rooted in ancient, magical stories!) I knew I’d found my aesthetic home: the field I wanted to work in, and the professional community I wanted to be a part of.

As with myths and folk tales, a good fantasy novel is literally spell-binding, using language to conjure up whole new worlds, or to invest our own modern world with magic. To me, the particular pleasure of good fantasy comes from its unbroken link to the world’s oldest stories, expressed through an author’s skilful manipulation of mythic archetypes, story patterns, and symbols. And those are powerful things.

Terri Windling
Interview with ActuSF

Writing is re-naming

February 11, 2020

You have to be free to play around with the notion that day might be night, love might be hate; nothing can be too sacred for the imagination to turn into its opposite or to call experimentally by another name. For writing is re-naming.

Adrienne Rich
When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision

it seemed like magic

February 11, 2020

N K Jemisin’s writing process often begins with dreams: imagery vivid enough to hang on into wakefulness. She does not so much mine them for insight as treat them as portals to hidden worlds. Her tendency is to interrogate what she sees with if/then questions, until her field of vision widens enough for her to glimpse a landscape that can hold a narrative. The inspiration for her début novel, “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms” (2010), was a dream vision of two gods. One had dark-as-night hair that contained a starry cosmos of infinite depth; the other, in a child’s body, manipulated planets like toys. From these images, Jemisin spun out a four-hundred-page story about an empire that enslaves its deities. The book established her as a prominent new voice…

… Jemisin finished “The Fifth Season.” The story defied easy literary categorization. It was sweeping but intimate, multilayered but simply told. It could be read as an environmental parable, or as a study of repression, or as a meditation on race, or as a mother’s post-apocalyptic quest. Jemisin wove in magical elements, but she systematized them so thoroughly that they felt like scientific principles — laws of an alternative nature. She evoked advanced technology, but made it so esoteric that it seemed like magic. (Most of her imagined machines were made of crystal. At some point, the inhabitants of the Stillness eschewed metallurgy; the word “rust” even became an expletive.)

Raffi Khatchadourian
N. K. Jemisin’s Dream Worlds

how to remain whole

February 11, 2020

To be a woman is to have interests and duties, raying out in all directions from the central mother-core, like spokes from the hub of a wheel. The pattern of our lives is essentially circular. We must be open to all points of the compass: husband, children, friends, home, community; stretched out, exposed, sensitive like a spider’s web to each breeze that blows, to each call that comes.

How difficult for us, then, to achieve a balance in the midst of these contradictory tensions, and yet how necessary for the proper functioning of our lives. How much we need, and how arduous of attainment is that steadiness preached in all rules for holy living. How desirable and how distant is the ideal of the contemplative, artist, or saint — the inner inviolable core, the single eye.

With a new awareness, both painful and humorous, I begin to understand why the saints were rarely married women. I am convinced it has nothing inherently to do, as I once supposed, with chastity or children. It has to do primarily with distractions. The bearing, rearing, feeding and educating of children; the running of a house with its thousand details; human relationships with their myriad pulls — woman’s normal occupations in general run counter to creative life, or contemplative life, or saintly life.

The problem is not merely one of Woman and Career, Woman and the Home, Woman and Independence. It is more basically: how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off centre; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel.

What is the answer? There is no easy answer, no complete answer. I have only clues, shells from the sea. The bare beauty of the channelled whelk tells me that one answer, and perhaps a first step, is in simplification of life, in cutting out some of the distractions. But how? Total retirement is not possible, I cannot shed my responsibilities. I cannot permanently inhabit a desert island. I cannot be a nun in the midst of family life. I would not want to be.

The solution for me, surely, is neither in total renunciation of the world, nor in total acceptance of it. I must find a balance somewhere, or an alternating rhythm between these two extremes; a swinging of the pendulum between solitude and communion, between retreat and return. In my periods of retreat, perhaps I can learn something to carry back into my worldly life. I can at least practice for these two weeks the simplification of outward life, as a beginning.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Gift of the Sea

inhale books

February 11, 2020

People read for a multiplicity of reasons. Nearly forty years in, I can tell you why I inhale books like oxygen: I’m grateful for my one life, but I’d prefer to live a thousand – and my favourite books allow me to experience more on the page than I ever could in my actual life.

Anne Bogel
I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life