Category Archives: spywriter

The Essence of Literature

“When you are reading books, drama, poetry, short stories, essays or any piece of literary work, you are opening the gateway to unbound imagination and allowing your intellect to grow by perceiving so many ideas out there, provided to you in the form of words. And then you are asked to dissect those words, question that piece of knowledge, examine that burst of idea, scrutinize the symbolic meanings, and critically analyze the writer’s philosophy. You start dwelling on human nature and the situations that we as beings find ourselves in, in this world. As a result, you develop a profound sense of life. Your mind becomes perceptive, knowledgeable, polished and one that sees the world with a deeper eye. That is the ‘point’ of Literature. That is what Literature gives you. To think, feel and see deeply, while expanding your horizons. I especially feel that young minds need to be indulged in innovative ways of creative writing that give them the opportunity to think freely, imagine, experiment, create and put into words their idea. This is the beauty of creative writing. It gives one the liberty to pick something that strikes him from the vast sea of his ideas and put it down on paper. The end product is a piece of literature that will reflect the person’s own character. That is the essence of Literature.”

FROM: nation.com.pk/blogs/16-Jun-2015/the-essence-of-literature

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Literary Auction Hype

Literary

Auctions unfortunately do not look at literary merit as much as they look at commercial merit. And when heavily marketed commercial books hammer the message: “read this book, read this book,” it skews independent judgement of even the most die-hard reader, forcing them to, at least, take a peek at this latest curiosity that everyone is talking about. Given that time is our most precious commodity these days, such peeks come at the expense of other books that may have grabbed the reader’s attention through non-promotional means.

I’m hoping that the author whose work was auctioned and who is now left to sign with the winning publisher, would use their judgement, take the long term view, and let the auction be used only as a yardstick to determine the “potential value” of their book. I’m hoping that they will settle on the publisher whom they feel will be the best fit for their career (after all, there will be more books in the pipeline from this author, we hope) rather than going with the highest bidder on just this single auctioned work. For the highest bid also comes with the highest expectation, and an author who does not earn his advance could get dropped for their next book by an “over-generous” publisher.

And as for readers, I hope that they … will stick to their own reading lists, compiled through due diligence rather than hype, and that they will not take those time-wasting detours just because an at-risk publisher has thrown the rest of his money after his moment of weakness at an auction and is touting the compelling but distracting message: “Read this. I put too much money behind this damned book and I need your help to bail me out!”

From: northumberlandview.ca/index.php?module=news&type=user&func=display&sid=34539

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Writers or Performers?

“In my first 15 or 20 years of authorship, I was almost never asked to give a speech or an interview. The written work was supposed to speak for itself, and to sell itself, sometimes even without the author’s photograph on the back flap.” –John Updike, The End of Authorship

A publishing contract is now more than an invitation to write. It is also a request for performance. The author becomes, as John Updike puts it in The End of Authorship, a “walking, talking advertisement for the book”. The very year the American novelist gave this speech in Washington, a publisher told me in passing: “Of course, we’ll fly you to the festivals, get you reading at shops and libraries.” Of course. One does not simply have talent, which Flannery O’Connor insisted was vital for a literary vocation. Now one is a talent: an artful player, with all the ambiguity of each word.

My point is not that there is anything necessarily vicious or vulgar about performance, or that we have lost a literary golden age: from enlightened literacy to primitive orality. The Romans regularly held public performances, in which poets tested their verse in a public laboratory. (Or lavatory. “You read to me as I shit,” complained first-century poet Martial in his Epigrams.) Pliny the Younger lamented that his listeners did not obey audience etiquette: “two or three clever persons … listened to it like deaf mutes.” Greek philosophy itself began with public performance; with the need to grab interest along with intellect. Put simply, we are not the first era to ask writers to tap-dance, and this request does not automatically corrupt literature.”

Read More: smh.com.au/entertainment/meet-the-author-why-writing-is-no-longer-just-about-the-words-20150512-ggywy3.html

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Why Butcher Novels with Film Adaptations?

“The subject of reading, of absorbing and interpreting, of assimilating the book’s narrative into the narrative of our lives, becomes inextricable from the text. There are schools of literary theory that focus, with varying degrees of complexity, on reader response and the “event” of reading. But the underlying concept is simple. Reading isn’t passive absorption; it’s an active rewriting based on who you are, where you are, how old you are and, possibly, whether or not it rained that morning. […]

The question remains: Why reduce these novels that grow so much bigger than their 1,000-odd pages into 2 1/2-hour movies, plays and ballets?

In her 1926 essay The Cinema, Virginia Woolf is obsessed with this problem. In reference to some of the earliest film adaptations of Anna Karenina, Woolf considers how strange it is to see someone else’s face imposed on a character that “the brain knows almost entirely by the inside of her mind.”

Woolf’s issue is how much film relies on visual distillation – “A kiss is love. … Death is a hearse” – when our experience of reading is just the opposite. Literary love is so much more than visual; the depicted relationship must travel along a twisting autobiographical pathway of ex-lovers and daydreams to make any sense to us at all. So why subject these great works of literature to such diminishing distortions?”

From: theglobeandmail.com/arts/theatre-and-performance/dancing-into-anna-kareninas-mind/article24007703/?service=mobile

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Fiction Benefits Science

“It is hard to deny that science fiction plays a role in inspiring the next generation of scientists and innovators. What may be less obvious, however, is the wide range of other functions the genre serves. Science fiction offers scientists and technologists a chance to step back and assess some of the consequences their work could have on society. Good literature offers the reader the chance to reflect on a complex situation from multiple perspectives.

Science fiction is already being used to help steer technological development. Many companies make use of a technique known as “design fiction” to evaluate the effects of a project before they invest in it.

Science fiction also educates people. People naturally understand stories—they don’t naturally understand formulas or instruction manuals. Science and technology have become so complex that the majority of people that are supposed to benefit from these fields don’t have a chance of really understanding them. Increasing sophistication has given rise to another demand science fiction must fill—making real science accessible and interesting to people.”

From:  thelamron.com/2015/04/10/fiction-is-the-future/

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The More You Know the Larger the Rows of Unread Books

“The writer Umberto Eco belongs to that small class of scholars who are encyclopedic, insightful, and nondull. He is the owner of a large personal library (containing thirty thousand books), and separates visitors into two categories: those who react with “Wow! Signore professore dottore Eco, what a library you have! How many of these books have you read?” and the others — a very small minority — who get the point that a private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight real-estate market allows you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.”

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From: brainpickings.org/2015/03/24/umberto-eco-antilibrary/

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Brain’s Visual Dictionary aids Reading

… “study supports the idea that when we learn a new word visually – by reading it rather than hearing it spoken aloud – a small part of the brain, located behind the left ear, creates a mental image of the word. Instead of remembering it as a string of letters or syllables, this region, called the visual word form area, gets trained to recognize the entire word as a pattern, forming a “visual dictionary” of our vocabulary. Representing written words in this way helps us recognize them more easily – and read faster.

“We know that in efficient readers this visual word form area is the area that seems to change the most as we learn to read,” said study author Max Reisenhuber, a neuroscientist at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington D.C.”

From: insidescience.org/content/picturing-words-makes-faster-readers/2706

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Reading and Writing are Crucial in Humanitarian Emergencies

“In humanitarian emergencies, reading and writing are essential to healing and reconstruction.

While there is no question that organizations and governments must devote the majority of their efforts to promoting the physical wellbeing of disaster victims, more attention should be given to nourishing the mind as a second measure to help victims cope with catastrophe and move forward.

The importance of food, emergency supplies, and shelter, after a natural disaster, cannot be underestimated. But perhaps the importance of books, which provide comfort, escape, connection, and normalcy after a crisis, can.”

From, and read urgent petition to donate books to Vanuatu:

http://m.csmonitor.com/Books/chapter-and-verse/2015/0320/Vanuatu-asks-the-world-please-send-books!-video

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Writers Have a Huge Responsibility

“Literature matters. […]

It’s like this. When you read, you are involved in a private transaction between, on the one hand, you, and on the other, the book and the person standing behind the book, the author.

The act of reading brings two separate energies together. One is the text which is made by the writer, and other is your personality into which the text is imported. Reading merges you and the text together and once that union has been effected it can never be undone. The two are meshed.

And the reason I lay such stress on this process is that the act of taking words off the page and bringing them into your psyche will necessarily change you for ever because every time you read, you see, the words you ingest get added in or on to your personality, so when you finish a text you are not the same person that you were when you started.

This means writers have a huge responsibility because, quite literally, albeit incrementally, the things they write, once they’re read, change the character of their readers, for ever.”

From: irishtimes.com/culture/books/carlo-g%C3%A9bler-writing-matters-so-it-should-be-venerated-not-devalued-1.2145883

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Book Publishing Industry Survives Without Big Data

But can it continue?

“It is one of the cruel truisms of the book business that publishers rarely have much insight into how their products are actually used. This is not for lack of curiosity on a publisher’s part but because of the structure of the industry:  books are almost never sold directly to end-users. They are sold to libraries and the wholesalers that service libraries; they are sold to your local bookshop; and they are sold to online vendors; but rarely is a book sold directly by a publisher to the person who reads it.  Book publishing, in other words, is a game of intermediaries. Sitting upstream, publishers have little insight into what is happening downstream. This is an invitation to make bad business decisions based on unproven assumptions about how books are actually used, and as an industry, book publishers have accepted that invitation over the past few years and made a series of big mistakes. It may be hard to roll back these decisions, but if we don’t know what they are and how they came to be, we are likely to keep making more of the same.”

From: scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2015/03/12/what-we-got-wrong-about-books/

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