Editor’s Corner: 101.6

Written by Shawn MacKenzie
Post Tuesday 16th December 2014

scribe-small 101.6

In the Realm of the Senses

“Observe, record, tabulate, communicate. Use your five senses. Learn to see, learn to hear, learn to feel, learn to smell, and know that by practice alone you can become expert.” …. Sir William Osler, M.D., C.M.

Last night I was watching the cats play with the chinchillas (a special birthday treat for the kittens). Claws sheathed, eyes wide, ears forward, whiskers twitching, and mouths open to taste the air, they were totally in the now, absorbing the experience with every sense at their disposal. The chins, too.

kids chin and carter

Oh, the lessons we learn from our companion critters everyday!

Try though we might to place ourselves on a separate, gilded rung of the evolutionary ladder, we human beings are still animals. Like other furred, feathered, or scaled creatures, we still count on our senses to guide us through the world. Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell, they layer our existence, give it depth and intrigue. They teach us what is safe, what is deadly, what is sexy, what is repulsive. Indeed, without well-honed perceptions, we would surely be as dead as the dodo.

Curiously, though we live by our senses, many writers have forgotten to write by them. Oh, we communicate through sight, sure. We are highly visual creatures. The aspects of person or place, the colors, shadows, shapes, all are accessible, familiar, and easy to share. Sound usually comes in second, then the other senses fill out the field from afar.

But why should this be? We do not live in half worlds, why should we write in them?

Just imagine if we wrote with all our senses, all the time; if we returned to our animal selves with ears up, nostrils flared, gleaning and giving information at every turn. A Victorian sitting room, for example, may be all teak and William Morris wallpaper to the eye, but perhaps it also smells of lemon oil and stale pipe tobacco, the chair by the fireplace creaking ever so gently when sat upon. This tells the reader so much more than a visual description alone. The resident has taste and a comfortable income; they take pride in their environment, keep it well. As for the lingering scent of tobacco – scent being one of the most evocative of the senses – oh, that can go a hundred ways! A father lost in the Crimea, his spirit conjured by the slightest whiff of his favorite chair; a pretentious brother who fancies himself the next Sherlock Holmes but went up to Oxford at Michaelmas.

Layers, one on another…

We are writers. Our purpose is to communicate, to move, to inspire. We take our knowledge of the world and give it back, limited only by our imaginations. So why stop with familiar? Why not go all topsy-turvy? We can focus, perhaps, not on how a city looks, but on how it tastes; not on how a thunderstorm sounds, but on how it smells. And let us not forget the rasping tongue of a whisper or the intricate fugue of a meteor shower.

meteor shower

As Dr. Osler said, learn to hear, to see, to smell. Dig deep; use all your senses. And next time you write about the first green shoots of spring, do not ignore their verdant voices raised to the heavens in paeans of rebirth. Welcome to the Big Picture. Have fun.

I will try to respond to messages as I am able. At times it may be in the form of a post or a direct email response. Guests who post, I will forward messages addressed to them. It is up to them how they decide to correspond.   — Shawn MacKENZIEMacKenzie’s Dragonsnest

Thoughts on Writing – Susan Sontag [Series Pt 8]

a writer's word new 14th june 2014Thoughts on Writing

A Multiple Part Series – Part # 8

“Think With Words—Not Ideas”

by Susan Sontag

Post by Jennifer Kiley

Post Sunday 14th December 2014

susan sontag photo for series

The writer does not have to write. She must imagine that she must. A great book: no one is addressed, it counts as cultural surplus, it comes from the will.
(3/10/80)

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Ordinary language is an accretion of lies. The language of literature must be, therefore, the language of transgression, a rupture of individual systems, a shattering of psychic oppression. The only function of literature lies in the uncovering of the self in history.
(3/15/80)

*       *       *

The love of books. My library is an archive of longings.
(4/26/80)

*       *       *

Making lists of words, to thicken my active vocabulary. To have puny, not just little, hoax, not just trick, mortifying, not just embarrassing, bogus, not just fake.
I could make a story out of puny, hoax, mortifying, bogus. They are a story.
(4/30/80)

*       *       *

A Short Note for the end of each part of this 8 part series.

When Susan Sontag died the obituaries omitted her relationship with photographer Annie Leibovitz, with whom Sontag maintained a relationship with throughout her last decade.

gold fountain pen for sontag series

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Thoughts on Writing – Susan Sontag [Series Pt 7]

a writer's word new 14th june 2014Thoughts on Writing

A Multiple Part Series – Part # 7

“Think With Words—Not Ideas”

by Susan Sontag

Post by Jennifer Kiley

Post Sunday 7th December 2014

susan sontag photo for series

Language as a found object
(2/1/79)

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Last novelist to be influenced by, knowledgeable about science was Aldous Huxley
One reason [there are] no more novels — There are no exciting theories of relation of society to self (sociological, historical, philosophical)
Not SO — no one is doing it, that’s all
(undated, March 1979)

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There is a great deal that either has to be given up or be taken away from you if you are going to succeed in writing a body of work
(undated, March 1979)

*       *       *

To write one must wear blinkers. I’ve lost my blinkers.
Don’t be afraid to be concise!
(3/10/79)

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A failure of nerve. About writing. (And about my life — but never mind.) I must write myself out of it.
If I am not able to write because I’m afraid of being a bad writer, then I must be a bad writer. At least I’ll be writing.
Then something else will happen. It always does.
I must write every day. Anything. Everything. Carry a notebook with me at all times, etc.
I read my bad reviews. I want to go to the bottom of it — this failure of nerve
(7/19/79)

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A Short Note for the end of each part of this 8 part series.

Maybe I could have given comfort to some people if I had dealt with the subject of my private sexuality more, [Sontag considered herself to be bisexual] but it’s never been my prime mission to give comfort, unless somebody’s in drastic need. I’d rather give pleasure, or shake things up.” – Susan Sontag

gold fountain pen for sontag series

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Thoughts On Writing – Susan Sontag [Series Pt 6]

a writer's word new 14th june 2014Thoughts on Writing

A Multiple Part Series – Part # 6

“Think With Words—Not Ideas”

by Susan Sontag

Post by Jennifer Kiley

Post Sunday 30th November 2014

susan sontag photo for series

One can never be alone enough to write. To see better.
(7/19/77)

*       *       *

Two kinds of writers. Those who think this life is all there is, and want to describe everything: the fall, the battle, the accouchement, the horse-race. That is, Tolstoy. And those who think this life is a kind of testing-ground (for what we don’t know — to see how much pleasure + pain we can bear or what pleasure + pain are?) and want to describe only the essentials. That is, Dostoyevsky. The two alternatives. How can one write like T. after D.? The task is to be as good as D. — as serious spiritually, + then go on from there.
(12/4/77)

*       *       *

Only thing that counts are ideas. Behind ideas are [moral] principles. Either one is serious or one is not. Must be prepared to make sacrifices. I’m not a liberal.
(12/4/77)

*       *       *

When there is no censorship the writer has no importance.
So it’s not so simple to be against censorship.
(12/7/77)

*       *       *

Imagination: — having many voices in one’s head. The freedom for that.
(5/27/78)

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A Short Note for the end of each part of this 8 part series.

“Intellectually, I know why I haven’t spoken more about my sexuality, but I do wonder if I haven’t repressed something there to my detriment.”
– Susan Sontag

gold fountain pen for sontag series

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Thoughts On Writing – Susan Sontag [Series Pt 5]

a writer's word new 14th june 2014Thoughts on Writing

A Multiple Part Series – Part # 5

“Think With Words—Not Ideas”

by Susan Sontag

Post by Jennifer Kiley

Post Sunday 23rd November 2014

susan sontag photo for series

Weakness of American poetry — it’s anti-intellectual. Great poetry has ideas.
(6/14/76)

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Not only must I summon the courage to be a bad writer — I must dare to be truly unhappy. Desperate. And not save myself, short-circuit the despair.
By refusing to be as unhappy as I truly am, I deprive myself of subjects. I’ve nothing to write about. Every topic burns.
(6/19/76)

*       *       *

The function of writing is to explode one’s subject — transform it into something else. (Writing is a series of transformations.)
Writing means converting one’s liabilities (limitations) into advantages. For example, I don’t love what I’m writing. Okay, then — that’s also a way to write, a way that can produce interesting results.
(11/5/76)

*       *       *

‘All art aspires to the condition of music’ — this utterly nihilistic statement rests at the foundation of every moving camera style in the history of the medium. But it is a cliché, a 19th century cliché, less an aesthetic than a projection of an exhausted state of mind, less a world view than a world weariness, less a statement of vital forms than an expression of sterile decadence. There is quite another pov [point of view] about what ‘all art aspires to’ — that was Goethe’s, who put the primary art, the most aristocratic one, + the one art that cannot be made by the plebes but only gaped at with awe, + that art is architecture. Really great directors have this sense of architecture in their work — always expressive of immense line of energy, unstable + vital conduits of force.
(undated, 1977)

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A Short Note for the end of each part of this 8 part series.

Sontag was quoted by Editor-in-Chief Brendan Lemon of Out magazine as saying “I grew up in a time when the modus operandi was the ‘open secret’. I’m used to that, and quite OK with it.” – Susan Sontag

gold fountain pen for sontag series

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“Inspiration” by Enrique Pacheco

tell me a story

 

“Inspiration”

A Short Film

by Enrique Pacheco

Post by Jennifer Kiley

Post Thursday 20th November 2014
 
He is the creator of the short film I posted yesterday on ‘the secret keeper.’ In this short film, he talks about what he does in order to capture the images we are able to see as his audience. In this video he includes amazing visions to show as examples of his work.

“Inspiration” by Enrique Pacheco

Directed by / Enrique Pacheco: enriquepacheco.com
Music by / The American Dollar: theamericandollar.info
Cinematography / Macgregor: blackmilk.eu
Edited by / Jota Aronak: jotaaronak.com
Sound by / Ross Curry: facebook.com/rosscurry
Thanks to : Barbro Rakos, Basti Jean, Quique Arias, J.F Calero.

Time-lapse shot with Sony a99 and Zeiss glass
Video shot with Sony F35 and Nikon glass.

Enrique Pacheco is a cinematographer specialized in travel. He is world renowned for his timelapse technique. His videos capture and embody the beauty of remote and hidden places as well as urban landscapes. This time Enrique shows us his more personal side, putting himself in front of the camera. Explaining the roots of his work and what motivates him to carry on moving forward.

Thoughts On Writing – Susan Sontag [Series Pt 4]

a writer's word new 14th june 2014Thoughts on Writing

A Multiple Part Series – Part # 4

“Think With Words—Not Ideas”

by Susan Sontag

Post by Jennifer Kiley

Post Sunday 16th November 2014

susan sontag photo for series

The solution to a problem — a story that you are unable to finish — is the problem. It isn’t as if the problem is one thing and the solution something else. The problem, properly understood = the solution. Instead of trying to hide or efface what limits the story, capitalize on that very limitation. State it, rail against it.
(7/31/73)

*       *       *

Talking like touching
Writing like punching somebody
(8/14/73)

*       *       *

To be a great writer:
know everything about adjectives and punctuation (rhythm)
have moral intelligence — which creates true authority in a writer
(2/6/74)

*       *       *

‘Idea’ as method of instant transport away from direct experience, carrying a tiny suitcase.
‘Idea’ as a means of miniaturizing experience, rendering it portable. Someone who regularly has ideas is — by definition — homeless.
Intellectual is a refugee from experience. In Diaspora.
What’s wrong with direct experience? Why would one ever want to flee it, by transforming it — into a brick?
(7/25/74)

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A Short Note for the end of each part of this 8 part series.

Her often provocative essays and speeches drew criticism. The New York Review of Books called her “one of the most influential critics of her generation.”

gold fountain pen for sontag series

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