The Strange Uniformity of Madness

After coming across some references to Posadism, I recently got sucked into the art and philosophy of the ectocultures (my term). I don’t mean the Occupy movement or Anonymous, but the real deviants, people who either were (or maybe should have been) institutionalized. There is almost no coherent categorization, except that they’re all highly conspiratorial, anti-rational, and often invoke alien or demonic powers (or both). … Continue reading The Strange Uniformity of Madness

When Criticism is the Best Medicine

When you start writing, you have the ambivalence of a toddler who both wants help down the stairs and wants to do it himself. You know you need critical feedback, but you’re inexperienced, unsure of your work — which we authors often conflate with our selves — and therefore wary of the sting. Those of you afraid of needles will know that feeling, that sometimes … Continue reading When Criticism is the Best Medicine

There’s No Writer Better Than You

There’s no objective ranking of writers, despite that it subjectively feels as if there is. I’ve probably had three conversations in the last nine months or so about this. I have strong feelings about it, to the point that I’ve probably come across way too strong. But it’s true. We all like what we like, of course, and don’t like what we don’t, and sometimes … Continue reading There’s No Writer Better Than You

The Anatomy of Excellence in Art + Fiction

Hugo Froelich created the following diagram, The Stages of Conventionalization, in 1905 for Keramic Studio Magazine. It proposes a hierarchy of representation, what’s sometimes called a mode of genre. Impressionism, for example, employs a decorative representation, whereas the fractured faces of Picasso are symbolic. (They are, after all, still recognizable as faces.) This descriptive hierarchy applies to books as well painting. Indeed, it applies to … Continue reading The Anatomy of Excellence in Art + Fiction

The Sheer Limits of Disgust

It’s remarkable to reflect on how much disgust completely permeates our lives, from the lowest form — yuckiness — all the way up to moral disgust. It is especially remarkable considering the only innately disgusting artifact appears to be spoiled meat. Everything else, from piles of dead bodies to handling human feces to eating the brains from a live monkey (which happens in China), is … Continue reading The Sheer Limits of Disgust

Notes on the Japanese Aesthetic

I am not the world’s biggest Japanophile. I enjoy the country for its foreignness and follow The Economist, which said that the greatest experience of being foreign — for the Westerner anyway — still comes from time spent in Japan. But I don’t lust after her mysteries. I am a casual explorer. A one-night stand rather than a seasoned lover. I’m here because my friend … Continue reading Notes on the Japanese Aesthetic