A scrapbook of stuff I'm reading / looking at / listening to / thinking about. Ask me anything you can't Google.
Posts tagged "david shields"
May 04, 2013
David Shields, The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead
I put off reading this book because I couldn’t imagine it could get any better than the title.
Couple of things to know about me at this moment:
- I’m a month or so away from turning 30.
- I’ve been sort of obsessed with thinking about death ever since my son was born.
- I caught a nasty cold this week, and when I have a cold I spend a lot of time on my back thinking about my body and its eventual demise.
So yeah, this book and me, we got along. Won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and Shields can be a little much when he turns inward instead of outward, but I found the collage style pretty damned propulsive…kept me turning pages.
Filed under: my reading year 2013
Feb 16, 2013
David Shields, How Literature Saved My Life1
- Stephen Colbert: “You say you’re not bound by 19th century conventions, right? So why are you bound to the 19th century convention of [a] book? Why didn’t you just put this on a website, or xerox it, or pass it out on street corners wearing a trash bag for a dress?”
- “[U]n- or even anti-literary types haven’t stopped reading. They just don’t get as excited about the book form. The blog form: immediacy, relative lack of scrim between writer and reader, promised delivery of unmediated reality.” (p. 167)
- David Shields’ blog is a list of links to reviews of his book.
- He is better at Twitter: @_DavidShields
- NYTimes: “When you read David Shields, the first thing you learn is that he takes literature very seriously. The second thing you learn is how seriously he takes his taking seriously of literature.”
- “[Ray Kurzweil] seems to me the saddest person on the planet. I emphasize with him completely.” (p. 86)
- “Every quality I despise in George Bush is a quality I despise in myself. He is my worst self realized.” (p. 18)
- “Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm. ‘Deep inside, you know you’re him.’” (p. 143, “Fifty-Five works I swear by”)
- Larry David’s mother: “You’re not funny, Larry. I’ve never heard you say anything funny.”
- “I learned a long time ago that the people whom you most want to love your work…won’t.” (p. 134)
- Things that happened to me on the plane ride while reading the galley of How Literature Changed My Life: my pen exploded all over my hand, I forgot to stir the dressing for my caesar salad, the stewardess refused to take my empty salad box because she didn’t have a trash bag, and my 6-foot ashtray of a seatmate fell asleep on my arm at least half a dozen times.
- “All criticism is a form of autobiography.” (p. 3)
- One of Shields’ “proudest literary accomplishments of middle age” is that “‘good’ and ‘bad’ reviews no longer affect me much.” (p. 159)
Apr 08, 2012
Originally, feathers evolved to retain heat; later, they were repurposed for a means of flight. No one ever accuses the descendants of ancient birds of plagiarism for taking heat-retaining feathers and modifying them into wings for flight. In our current system, the original feathers would be copyrighted, and upstart birds would get sued for stealing the feathers for a different use. Almost all famous discoveries (by Edison, Darwin, Einstein, et al.) were not lightning-bolt epiphanies but were built slowly over time and heavily dependent on the intellectual superstructure of what had come before them…. There’s no such thing as originality. Invention and innovation grow out of rich networks of people and ideas. All life on earth (and by extension, technology) is built upon appropriation and reuse of the preexisting.
Jan 07, 2012
I am quite content to go down to posterity as a scissors and paste man.
Aug 12, 2011
» "Rosebud is a sled, bitches!" New study shows knowing what happens in a story actually increases our enjoyment
Why, when the notion that ignorance is bliss is so pervasive, would knowing how the story turns out be such a pleasure enhancer? Leavitt suggests that comfort is a factor. “It could be that once you know how it turns out,” he told Science Daily, “it’s cognitively easier — you’re more comfortable processing the information — and can focus on a deeper understanding of the story.” It certainly makes a reader less likely to skim through the first 400 pages of a Harry Potter installment if she’s already taken a leisurely eyeful of the ending. And Christenfeld added that perhaps the action is only part of the story. “Plots are just excuses for great writing,” he said. “What the plot is is (almost) irrelevant. The pleasure is in the writing.”
Pretty sure David Shields says the same thing in Reality Hunger, and in his piece, “Long Live the Anti-Novel, Built from Scraps: “Plots are for dead people.”
Apr 21, 2010
» David Shields on the origins of REALITY HUNGER
The origins of Reality Hunger lie, believe it or not, in a course I’ve been teaching for many years — a graduate course in the lyric essay and self-reflexive documentary film. Over many years, I’ve been putting together a course packet full of scraps of material that I’ve read and loved. I didn’t really care/don’t really care who said what. None of the quotes had citations; I was just trying to get the class to respond to the provocative statements, especially since they were and are graduate students in fiction, and my course is kind of the Anabaptist at the Baptist convention. All this material started becoming a book when I realized I could slide some of the material intro thematized rubrics, otherwise known as chapters; each chapter could have a movement, an argument; and the book as a whole could go from A to Z, could unfold an ethos, an ars poetica. What drove the thing from the beginning was that I needed to explain to myself why I don’t write fiction per se anymore, and why with various few exceptions I can’t and don’t read it, and why a certain kind of philosophically inclined nonfiction thrills me to my toes, how exciting this work is, how exciting it always has been, going back millennia. I just wanted to understand this for myself and, in a way, my students and the culture at large, because I do think the shift is in no way only in me.
Apr 15, 2010
You say you’re not bound by 19th century conventions, right? Why are you bound by the 19th century convention of ‘book’?
Mar 22, 2010
Mar 18, 2010
Old and new make the warp and woof of every moment. There is no thread that is not a twist of these two strands. By necessity, by proclivity and by delight, we all quote. It is as difficult to appropriate the thoughts of others as it is to invent.
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