All posts filed under: Literature

Albert Camus: Unfashionable Anti-Totalitarian

Today, it is not unusual to see Albert Camus celebrated as the debonair existentialist—the handsome hero of the French Resistance, a great novelist, and a fine philosopher. But this reputation was only recently acquired. For much of his life, and in the years since his untimely death in 1960 aged just 46, Camus was deeply unfashionable among France’s leading intellectuals. In many quarters, he remains so. Camus came to widespread attention in 1942 with his publication of his novella The Stranger and a philosophical essay entitled “The Myth of Sisyphus.” The Stranger portrays a solitary passionless man wandering through a world without pattern or purpose. “The Myth of Sisyphus” grapples with the question, “Why not commit suicide?” Camus argued that we should not, but he finds little evidence of a justified purpose for human beings. If we cannot prove that some choices are better than others, he concludes, we can at least dedicate ourselves to the pursuit of experience. The austerity and boldness of these two works struck Camus’s contemporaries as remarkable and, within a …

Headline Rhymes

Pulling Jordan Peterson’s book off the rack In the wake of the New Zealand mosque attack Is like banning the Don’t Look Back in Anger song After the Manchester concert bomb “12 Rules” is a balm to calm the dangers That might drive one to kill innocent strangers The next time a terrorist act hits Might they ban the Ten Commandments? Views on the news, delivered so smooth. Click for last week’s edition. And for more Headline Rhymes, follow along on Twitter @grahamverdon Do you have a Headline Rhyme? Take a stab in the Comments Section below.  Sentiments are not necessarily shared by everyone at Quillette.

Headline Rhymes

Trump was over the moon For his buddy Kim Jong Un This squabbling’s picayune For the Loon and the Buffoon I hope they make up soon Stay tuned Views on the news, delivered so smooth. Click for last week’s edition. And for more Headline Rhymes, follow along on Twitter @grahamverdon Do you have a Headline Rhyme? Take a stab in the Comments Section below.  Sentiments are not necessarily shared by everyone at Quillette.

The Narcissistic Fracturing of LGBT Literature

In late 2016, I was featured prominently in an article that appeared in Quill & Quire, entitled Out in the open: Is it time for Canadian gay literature to leave its comfort zone and respond to the Grindr generation? As a young gay writer, this felt like a big deal. While Quill & Quire is an obscure publication, it serves as a sort of bellwether of popularity within Canada’s tiny, tightly controlled literary community. Plus, I was appearing alongside more famous LGBT writers: veteran gay writer Sky Gilbert (now of Quillette fame) and trans author Vivek Shraya. The professional stakes were high for me because this was my first appearance in the national media following the publication of my debut novel, Candyass. The author of that 2016 article, Elio Iannacci, interviewed each of us about the state of “queer” art and representation, with the premise being that market forces still prevent gay writers from fully expressing themselves. Vivek, who had come out as trans in her mid 30s, stated: “All we hear is ‘love is …

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Have you heard ’bout the horrible hate crime? A TV star is beat up by two white guys But the whole thing turns whack When the white guys turn black And YOU are racist for not buyin’ Views on the news, delivered so smooth. This week’s inspired by the confusing story of Jussie Smollett as it continues to unspool. As it does, perhaps sober thinking about race is in order:  Racism and Underdetermination by Evidence The Racism Treadmill Click for last week’s edition. And for more Headline Rhymes, follow along on Twitter @grahamverdon Do you have a Headline Rhyme? Take a stab in the Comments Section below.  Sentiments are not necessarily shared by everyone at Quillette.

High Theory and Low Seriousness

Sixty years ago today, just as Henderson the Rain King was going to print, Saul Bellow penned an article for the New York Times in which he warned against the perils of deep reading. Paying too close attention to hidden meanings and obscure symbols takes all the fun from reading, he wrote. The serious reader spends an inordinate amount of energy trying to find profound representations in the most trivial of details. “A travel folder signifies Death. Coal holes represent the Underworld. Soda crackers are the Host. Three bottles of beer are—it’s obvious.” Moreover, deep reading is such an imprecise game that numerous dull and contradictory interpretations arise from the same passage. “Are you a Marxist? Then Herman Melville’s Pequod in Moby Dick can be a factory, Ahab the manager, the crew the working class. Is your point of view religious? The Pequod sailed on Christmas morning, a floating cathedral headed south. Do you follow Freud or Jung? Then your interpretations may be rich and multitudinous.” One man, Bellow wrote, had volunteered an explanation of Moby Dick as Ahab’s mad quest to overcome …

Poetic Injustice and Performative Outrage

On February 13, after almost a two month delay due to the U.S. government shutdown, the National Endowment for the Arts finally announced its recipients for the 2019 Creative Writing Fellowship in poetry. For most of the winners, this was an occasion to celebrate on social media. But for Rachel Custer, the elation of finally being able to announce the prestigious grant (one of 35 out of nearly 1700 applicants) came with the dreadful anticipation of the outrage that would (and did) predictably follow. This was nothing new for her. Last summer, when Anders Carlson-Wee proudly announced the publication of his new poem, “How-To,” on Facebook, Custer was at home in rural Northern Indiana, watching as controversy erupted online. “I felt that sick feeling in my stomach,” she says, as the initial joy of Carlson-Wee’s post got quickly sucked out with each hateful comment he received. “I knew so well from the many times I read similar threads about myself. And I just felt immensely bad for him, and so disdainful of anybody who would say …

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The Oscars without any host? That’s like avocado without any toast Or an eWoke with no one to roast Or a VIP with no dick pic to post Views on the news, delivered so smooth. Click for last week’s edition. And for more Headline Rhymes, follow along on Twitter @grahamverdon Do you have a Headline Rhyme? Take a stab in the Comments Section below.  Sentiments are not necessarily shared by everyone at Quillette.

Headline Rhymes

One Halloween I wanted to be Lando Calrissian My mom said, son, it’s time for some listening She said, you are white and Calrissian’s black I said, I figured that out a while back I told her my black friend was gonna be Skywalker She said that was different and things turned awkward She explained how we all didn’t always live free I said, okay, how ’bout I dress as Apollo Creed? She said, you’re not getting it, go talk to your father I threw on a Yoda mask ’cause I couldn’t be bothered I’m much older now, and maybe a little wiser But I think I could still use a costume adviser Can we don the outfit of a black film star As long as our faces stay the colour they are? Can my son play a hero from the film Black Panther? I don’t know if anyone has a definitive answer I’ll continue to read up on the latest rules I hope that by next year Calrissian is cool Views on the news, …

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Ever since the media was triggered by that smirk I realized my superpower; I can sniff out every jerk At the playground I saw a 5-year-old smiling on a slide And I knew in just one instant he is supercilious and snide This morning I saw a baby boy, smiling, fast asleep It was obvious by the curl of his lips he’s a bloody creep My special gift is boundless and it continues to grow At my daughter’s school just now I spied eight grinning shits in a row This smiling expecting mother? I have zero doubt The baby in her belly is a pretentious, imperious lout Just pout! I want to shout So he’ll be cool when he comes out Views on the news, delivered so smooth. This week’s inspired by: Truth and Disfavored Identities Click for last week’s edition. And for more Headline Rhymes, follow along on Twitter @grahamverdon Do you have a Headline Rhyme? Take a stab in the Comments Section below.  Sentiments are not necessarily shared by everyone at Quillette.