No' th' auld toon

Quiet abyss journal

“Twenty-past eleven. The minute-hand seemed struggling through treacle. The fire, having forged itself to a block of embers, made the area around it molten with heat, and they sat steeping in warmth. They spoke little. Yet their silence was a traffic, more real than words. They had known each other for a long time and both were miners. Their friendship was fed from numberless tubers, small, invisible, forgotten, favours like help with shifting furniture, talk in the gloaming at the corner, laughters shared. Intensifying these was that sense of communal identity miners had, as if they were a separate species. When Buff coughed, it wasn’t just an accidental sound disturbing the quiet of the room. It was part of a way of life, a harshness bred in the pits and growing like a tumour in his breathing. He was at sixty much of what Tam, in his early thirties, would become. And as Buff was Tam’s future, so Tam was his past. The mere presence of one enlarged the other, so that now just by sitting here they were in a dialogue, a way of ordering the uncertainty of this night into sense.”

– William McIlvanney, Docherty.

“Leave everything.
Leave Dada.
Leave your wife, leave your mistress.
Leave your hopes and fears.
Drop your kids in the middle of nowhere.
Leave the substance for the shadow.
Leave behind, if need be, your comfortable life and promising future.
Take to the highways.”

Roberto Bolaño, Infrarealist Manifesto.

“How to recognize a work of art? How to separate it, even if just for a moment, from its critical apparatus, its exegetes, its tireless plagiarizers, its belittlers, its final lonely fate? Easy. Let it be translated. Let its translator be far from brilliant. Rip pages from it at random. Leave it lying in an attic. If after all of this a kid comes along and reads it, and after reading it makes it his own, and is faithful to it (or unfaithful, whichever) and reinterprets it and accompanies it on its voyage to the edge, and both are enriched and the kid adds an ounce of value to its original value, then we have something before us, a machine or a book, capable of speaking to all human beings: not a plowed field but a mountain, not the image of a dark forest but the dark forest, not a flock of birds but the Nightingale.”

– Roberto Bolaño, Translation is an Anvil.

unknownmeridian asked: For stale, 'objective' writing from a female writer, look to Margaret Mitchell - for experimental male writing (and if you want a figure close to Woolf), Joyce


true, I’m not saying men’s writing can’t be experimental. gender isn’t binary and there’s plenty of writing by men that would fit within the criteria of “women’s writing”. but the way we think about writing - and art in general - is inescapably gendered. the way gender is constructed constructs how we think, particularly when it comes to emotions and opinions and how we consider our place in the world. and that’s going to affect how we write and how we view writing. 

also, look at how celebrated Joyce is for his writing. he’s treated like a god. female writers, however experimental, are never celebrated like that. because female writing is “personal”/”confessional” and somehow that makes it a lower sort of art. (bc women are meant to do emotions, it’s just natural; for men it’s a carefully honed skill.) a man writing the same sort of thing would be called “seminal”.

True Joyce is  deified. But Ulysses goes beyond any experimental work in the modern age in it’s range and skill, to the best of my knowledge. I’d love to know of more experimental works by female authors though, and I’m also curious to read a long novel from a female perspective in the vein of say War and Peace or Gravity’s Rainbow, if such things exist!

“…and proudly I cried myself hoarse in the desert, but my vociferations and on occasions my howling could only be heard by those who were able to scratch the surface of my writings with the nails of their index fingers, and they were not many, but enough for me, and life went on and on and on, like a necklace of rice grains, on each grain of which a landscape had been painted, tiny grains and microscopic landscapes, and I knew that everyone was putting on the necklace and wearing it, but no one had the patience or the strength or the courage to take it off and look at it closely and decipher each landscape grain by grain, partly because to do so required the vision of a lynx or an eagle, and partly because the landscapes usually turned out to contain unpleasant surprises like coffins, makeshift cemeteries, ghost towns, the void and the horror, the smallness of being and its ridiculous will, people watching television, people going to football matches, boredom circumnavigating the Chilean imagination like an enormous aircraft carrier.”

– Roberto Bolano, By Night in Chile