Shaken and Stirred
bond, gwenda bond

sontag & kael & the terrifying deep
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I've started Craig Seligman's book Sontag & Kael: Opposites Attract Me. I'm very picky about critical works such as this, and about criticism in general. I like it humane and interesting and with a strong voice behind it. Seligman's book so far is delivering, and I'm finding it very interesting -- though I've never been a huge fan of Sontag's work (Seligman is a fan, but admits early on to a bias in favor of Kael).

This excerpt from a paragraph on the act of writing criticism has particularly captured my fancy:

An anecdote: one summer day not too many years ago, I was on Kael's verandah, staring off vacantly, and seeing me through the screen door she called, "What are you doing?" "Thinking," I told her. (I wasn't.) She said, "I only think with a pencil in my hand." It was just a small joke, but it got at something. You sit down to review a work you're not sure about your response to, and by the time you get up from your desk you know what you think. It isn't a matter of taking a stand and then coming up with an argument to defend it; the argument is more organic than that. As you connect your thoughts -- as you try to make them coherent by the simple method of fixing your sentences, making the words flow, correcting imprecisions -- an argument emerges. There may be beautiful vacant writing, but I can't cite any beautiful vacant criticism.

The book's well worth picking up when it comes out in May. That paragraph makes me wonder if I need to write criticism to figure out what I really think about certain works. I'm sure it'll pass.

I've always had a fear of the ocean -- I like swimming in it, I love being near it -- but it's so immense... So immense we have very little idea what is down there. A couple of years ago I thought I'd read up on the ocean, learn more about it and that would make things better. It didn't. The stuff that's down there, it's way worse than what you come up with in your casual imaginings. G-d went overboard with the flood. Here are pictures of some things that are down there (via Metafilter). These may also be from Greg's nightmares.

At the doctor's office earlier, I overheard this girl who I will charitably describe as slow telling her mom about how "that woman won an Oscar for directing a movie, can't remember her name... But nobody thought she'd win and she did." I let people have their illusions whenever possible, but one wonders where this "fact" came from?

Oh, and Hank Stuever and William Booth write about this year's Oscar parties.

earworm: "Car," Catherine Wheel

rec: staying out of the water

namecheck: Michaelangelo "King of Lists" Matos

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