Sunday, December 13, 2015

1. "Choosing Words"
There is this idea that writing beautifully or writing powerfully is somehow separate from clear thinking. It’s not. A lot of times when people are writing poorly—when their writing is not clear and not completely fleshed out—there’s poor thinking going on. The ability to explain something clearly is not divorced from the ability to have it clearly worked out, you know what I mean? When you’re studying poetry and you’re trying to get across the naked truth—a feeling—the ability to find the precise words is a way of demonstrating that I have an understanding of what was actually happening.
2. "Writing as Cognition"
I will only know what I precisely want to say in this piece once I finish writing it.

This enigmatic sentence is not meant as an alluring opening statement, nor is it a sign for an experimental literary method that I will be employing in this blog. For what it’s worth, this sentence captures my principal insight into the process of writing. It is an insight that I gained after years of experiencing much frustration with writing, after producing endless drafts of the same text, after nights and days spent on trying ‘to get it right’, after struggling not to lose my focus, not to get lost in the texts I tried so hard to write.
3. "Learning by Doing"
If I hadn’t since read Chimimanda Ngozie Adichie’s novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, I would still know a mathematically negative amount about Nigeria.

When I was a child, Biafran meant starving. I mean that quite literally. ‘Biafran’ was an adjective with a lower-case b that described pregnant-looking toddlers. To a six-year old in 1970s Ireland, Biafran was somehow the reason for ‘the black babies’, a globe-shaped collection that went around my primary school class each morning. We would put in our five-pence or two-pence pieces, or sometimes just a penny each. It was mortifying to have the ‘black babies’ go by your desk and put nothing in. We couldn’t say why, but we somehow understood that Irish children and the black babies had common cause
4. You don't what what to expect
The paradox arises from the fact that, until you’ve had a child, you cannot know what it will be like to have one. And moreover, the experience may change you in ways that you cannot predict or even understand before you have the child. This means that you can’t rationally choose to have a child on the basis of what you think it will be like, because there is no way for you to know what it will be like. Even worse, the same is true if you choose not to have a child: since you can’t know what it would have been like for you to have a child, you can’t know the value of what you are missing. And so there is no way to rationally choose whether or not to become a parent.
The dying culture of scholasticism; the return to humanism. On Coates, start here.
The pretensions of post-structuralism were mannered attempts at return art to pedantry. They were founded in defensiveness and insecurity. Coates is able to state the obvious. Academics are still struggling.

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