If Writers Were Taken Literally

“Raven locks, arched eyebrows, eyes like stars, rosy cheeks, sea-shell ears, pearly teeth, cherry lips, swan-like necks, lilly white hands, and a Grecia nose”…

If writers were taken literally, the heroines of fiction would look like this:

image

More Reading Writing Spying:
http://www.SPYWRITER.comhttp://www.twitter.com/SPYWRITERhttp://www.facebook.com/SPYWRITER

The Literary Industrial Complex

“The MFA isn’t about developing a unique style at all, but about learning how to sound like already published writers. It’s about gaining entrance to the club. Look closely at the promotional materials of creative-writing programs and you’ll almost invariably see a host of proper names—these are the people with whom you can expect to rub shoulders, if not directly, then by association through the former graduates that have passed through the program or the mentors of your mentors whose influence will surely rub off on you. It’s about having the opportunity to insert yourself, however virtually, into that literary social network.

While something may happen in MFA programs, perhaps that thing is more behavioral than artistic. When we look at the data, the MFA seems to be helping people sound like everyone else. To put a positive spin on it, we could say the degrees help writers fit into the literary landscape. Like the universities to which these programs belong, the MFA may offer a way of gaining entrance to an elite club. You learn the rules of the road, at least as defined by the publishing industry and literary reviews. At its worst, it doesn’t do anything at all.

From: theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/03/mfa-creative-writing/462483/

The CIA + the MFA = https://spywriter.wordpress.com/2014/03/14/the-cia-ideology-and-american-literature/

More Reading Writing Spying:
http://www.SPYWRITER.comhttp://www.twitter.com/SPYWRITERhttp://www.facebook.com/SPYWRITER

Shared Reading For Mental Health

“This one-year research study concluded that shared reading groups helped patients suffering from depression in terms of their social, mental, emotional and psychological well-being. The clinical data indicated that statistically significant improvements in the mental health of depressed patients had occurred during the 12-month period in which they had attended reading groups.

It found that there were four significant ‘mechanisms of action’ involved in the reading group intervention, three of which were essential to its success, the fourth influential:

– A rich, varied, non-prescriptive diet of serious literature
– The role of the group facilitator in making the literature ‘live’ in the room
– The role of the group in offering support and a sense of community
– The creation of stimulating, non-pressurised, non-judgemental atmosphere (‘not like school’, as one participant emphatically put it) overrode considerations of physical environment

The report also established what types of literature work, why they work and how they work in the specific context of depressive illness.”

From, and Download the report (PDF): http://www.thereader.org.uk/media/72227/Therapeutic_benefits_of_reading_final_report_March_2011.pdf

More Reading Writing Spying:
http://www.SPYWRITER.comhttp://www.twitter.com/SPYWRITERhttp://www.facebook.com/SPYWRITER

Noxious Vermin

“What is this curse that makes us all so inert and cowed that we cannot pull ourselves together and deprive the generals of their grants? We are oafs, most of us, lazy and ignorant, and we nod our heads and are satisfied when we hear a lot of profound nonsense about “balance of power” and “interplay of forces” and all the rest of the jargon. Balance of power? If every Tom, Dick and Harry were to exert himself and demand that the money should be spent on making him better off instead of on arms and war there would be no war and we should all be better off. But the Toms, Dicks and Harrys must first bang their fists on the table and let it be known who holds the power and how that power is to be used. […]

“I still see red when I think of, let alone meet, those who incite to war, all the idiots who directly or with treacherous insinuations fan dissension and belligerent instincts. I have seen the result of the infamous activities of these propagandists, commentators, fanatics, cold business brains and lusting politicians. They are noxious vermin and, as such, should be destroyed.”

Sven Hassel, Wehrmacht, WWII; author of WWII novels.

image

More Reading Writing Spying:
http://www.SPYWRITER.comhttp://www.twitter.com/SPYWRITERhttp://www.facebook.com/SPYWRITER

Publishing is about much more than book sales

“When we talk about publishing these days, we have to talk about much more than book sales, even more than the written word and books themselves. We need to talk about all the things we do with and around books, our engagement with book culture.

In other words, we need to talk about publishing as a cultural practice, as something that contributes to or even constitutes who we are as individuals, who we are as citizens. We need to talk about publishing as a socio-cultural activity that helps us to understand our place in the world.

Publishing expresses and shapes our societies. It even plays a part in the kind of nations we live in. It would be wise, therefore, to broaden the conversation about it to more than sales figures.

In short, we need to shift our attention from publishing as a business process to thinking about publishing as an act of culture.”

From: theconversation.com/publishing-should-be-more-about-culture-than-book-sales-54173

More Reading Writing Spying:
http://www.SPYWRITER.comhttp://www.twitter.com/SPYWRITERhttp://www.facebook.com/SPYWRITER

The Oldest Record of Espionage

The “earliest surviving record of espionage dates from the time of Pharaoh Rameses’ war with the Hittites and the battle of Kadesh. (c.1274 BC)…The Hittite king Muwatallis sent two spies into the Egyptian camp posing as deserters to convince pharaoh that the Hittite army was still quite distant. Rameses believed their story and unwittingly allowed part of his army to march into a Hittite ambush. Fortunately for the pharaoh, he captured two more Hittite spies and had his officers interrogate them … the Hittites spies revealed that an ambush had been set … Ramses was therefore able to bring up reserves and avert disaster at what became known as the battle of Kadesh.”

From: The Enemy Within: A History of Espionage, Thomas Crowdy

More Reading Writing Spying:
http://www.SPYWRITER.comhttp://www.twitter.com/SPYWRITERhttp://www.facebook.com/SPYWRITER

What is Literature

What is literature? — It Is the personal preference of a writer (or a reader) for the works of certain writers: his idea of what should be described for a larger circle of readers as worthwhile reading. Ford Madox Ford says so in almost as many words:

“Let us then sum up literature as that which men [and women, presumably] read, and continue to read for pleasure or to obtain that imaginative culture which is necessary for civilisations. Its general characteristic is that it is the product of a poetic, an imaginative, or even merely a quaintly observant, mind. Since the days of Confucius, or the earliest Egyptian writers a thousand years before his time, there have been written in stone, on papyrus, wax, vellum, or merely paper, an immense body of matter — innumerable thousands of tons of it. This matter is divisible into that which is readable and that which is unreadable except by specialists in one or another department of human knowledge. The immediate test for one’s self as to what is literature and what is not literature — the ‘biblia a-biblia,’ as the Greeks used to call this last — is simply whether one does or does not find a book readable. But if a book has found readers for 2000 or 500, or merely 80 or 2O years, you would be rash, even though you could not read it yourself, to declare that it was not literature — not, that is to say, a work of art. . . . But for the judging of contemporary literature the only test is one’s personal taste. If you much like a new book, you must call it literature, even though you find no other soul to agree with you, and if you dislike a book, you must declare that it is not literature, though a million voices should shout to you that you are wrong. The ultimate decision will be made by Time.”

More Reading Writing Spying:
http://www.SPYWRITER.comhttp://www.twitter.com/SPYWRITERhttp://www.facebook.com/SPYWRITER

Read to Tell Better Stories

“Stories can be a way for humans to feel that we have control over the world. They allow people to see patterns where there is chaos, meaning where there is randomness. Humans are inclined to see narratives where there are none because it can afford meaning to our lives—a form of existential problem-solving. In a 1944 study conducted by Fritz Heider and Marianne Simmel at Smith College, 34 college students were shown a short film in which two triangles and a circle moved across the screen and a rectangle remained stationary on one side of the screen. When asked what they saw, 33 of the 34 students anthropomorphized the shapes and created a narrative: The circle was “worried,” the “little triangle” was an “innocent young thing,” the big triangle was “blinded by rage and frustration.” Only one student recorded that all he saw were geometric shapes on a screen.”

“The more stories you read, the better you’ll be at telling your own story. Chances are, you’ll also become a bit better at filtering the noise of the world and understanding it for yourself. It might sound like a stretch, but the better you are at telling your own story, the more persuasive and interesting you’ll be to others.”

From: lifehacker.com/how-reading-fiction-can-help-you-live-a-better-life-1666696457

More on Reading, Writing, Spying: http://www.spywriter.comhttp://www.facebook.com/spywriterhttp://www.twitter.com/spywriter

The Price of Literary Glamour and Glitz

Glamour and glitz of literary festivals comes with a price, “And the most expensive item on the bill is the transformation of writers into performers, authors into salesmen. […] For them it is promote or perish. Writers these days have to have their own websites, be active on Facebook, send off tweets every few hours and generally be as visible as possible. Lest the reader forgets him and goes off with whoever is grabbing their attention at that moment.

However

, “The best expression of a writer’s thoughts has to be in his writings, not in his spoken words. That is why he or she has chosen the lonely, uncertain life of a writer.”

We readers too can be like them, by opting to walk the solitary path of reading. If we are content to judge authors by their works and not their personalities, if we are ready to put substance over style, then Lit Fests would lose their relevance. Honestly, how can something as intimate as a novel be turned into a successful live event?

From: firstpost.com/living/literary-festivals-are-anti-reading-why-lit-fests-are-for-performers-not-writers-2542596.html

Reading Writing Spying:
http://www.SPYWRITER.com
http://www.twitter.com/SPYWRITER
http://www.facebook.com/SPYWRITER

Who, if not Writers?

“Literature, whether prose or poetry, as a record, or history, not only of individual’s lives but also of collective’s lives ~ indeed of society’s life. For what purpose would Literature serve if not as a mirror of our reality both at the individual and collective levels? So, while it is soul-satisfying to write and read about the twinkling of stars as well as gushing and gurgling streams by verdant hills, for me it is more imperative that we also write about peace, harmony, justice, liberty, equality and fraternity amongst the human race. Indeed, it is very imperative […] that we write about freedom ~ freedom to think, to feel, to ideate, to write and to read and these freedoms can become a reality only when we create and nurture the atmosphere and environment for them to germinate. So then, we must write about poverty, hunger, mal-nutrition, diseases, injustice, corruption and all the other ills that beset our society and […] sink us in the quick sands of mediocrity.”

“If writers do not double up as activists too, who will change our society and state? Who will create the need and the urge in our people to destroy the status quo and usher in change that would bring out the best in our culture and traditions, and indeed in us? This requires that writers and poets climb down from Ivory Towers and see and feel the real world we live in. This requires that we do not romanticize ourselves, our cultures, our traditions, our society and our state. This further requires that we do not look at Literature as a means to gain popularity, to make a name and to make money, and I know it is hard to ward off the temptations social media offers in today’s technologically-dominated world. But at the same time, it is now imperative that we use social media to disseminate our message. And perhaps less of the messenger?”

FROM: morungexpress.com/creating-change/

Reading Writing Spying:
http://www.SPYWRITER.com
http://www.twitter.com/SPYWRITER
http://www.facebook.com/SPYWRITER