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Just found this old video, from my old life, in which I was, if I do say so myself, the god of animals.  

Thanks to the great Frances De Pontes Peebles for introducing me to this, thereby inspiring me to depart the Isle of Netflix long enough to repost it.  

Thanks to the great Frances De Pontes Peebles for introducing me to this, thereby inspiring me to depart the Isle of Netflix long enough to repost it.  

It’s OK not to be a genius, whatever that is, if there even is such a thing…the creative life may or may not be the apex of human civilization, but either way it’s not what I thought it was. It doesn’t make you special and sparkly. You don’t have to walk alone. You can work in an office — I’ve worked in offices for the past 15 years and written five novels while doing it. The creative life is forgiving: You can betray it all you want, again and again, and no matter how many times you do, it will always take you back.

Lev Grossman manages to smash “you don’t have to be a genius” and “keep your day job” into his great essay, "How Not to Write a Novel" (his book, The Magician’s Land, is out this week)

(via housingworksbookstore)

Hello, Goodbye

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So, my phone died.  

I realize that this is something that has happened to almost everyone, but until last night, it had never happened to me.  My phones don’t die.  Instead, they just get older and slower and glitchier until I finally tuck them away in a drawer and replace them with a newer model. 

I always secretly suspected that I have some sort of iPhone charm that protected me from the minor inconveniences suffered by everyone else whose Tweets and status updates I’ve over the years seen frantically proclaiming, ‘Broken/lost phone! AAAAGGGGHHHHH!’ And I even more secretly suspected that this charm was indicative of a larger universal favor, in much the same way my cousin and I sometimes congratulate each other for being the only two members of our known family to have never required either orthodontia or corrective eyewear, as though our straight teeth and 20/20 vision are tokens of some kind of genetic superiority.  In short, I thought I was maybe a little bit magic.  

But all that came crashing down last night when my phone’s screen flickered into an impenetrable gray slab and I was forced to face the traumatizing reality that I am maybe Just Like Everyone Else.  Worse, in fact.  Because Everyone Else has an iPhone.  And I, at the moment, do not.

Though my phone has been dead less than a day, I have learned a lot about myself in that time.  Here now is just a brief list of some basic necessities of modern human life that it turns out I do not actually possess: 

  • alarm clock
  • flashlight
  • kitchen timer
  • calculator
  • sense of direction
  • short-term memory

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Everything has already been said and done. But, then, if this is so, why do we need more poems in the world? I once read a Jane Hirshfield interview where she said something quite wonderful. She essentially said we have to keep writing because it’s every generation’s job to put in the present vernacular poems that are called upon for rites of passage, such as poems read at weddings or funerals. I hadn’t thought of this before. Your ordinary citizen should be able to go to the library and find a poem written in the current vernacular, and the responsibility for every generation of writers is to make this possible. We must, then, rewrite everything that has ever been written in the current vernacular, which is really what the evolution of literature is all about. Nothing new gets said but the vernacular keeps changing.

Mary Ruefle (via austinkleon)