Archive for huhtikuu 20th, 2004

Link dump, vol 1

Okay, here’s a bunch of stuff I’ve bookmarked but haven’t really had time to go through: $14 Steady-Cam (check out the first sample video), a series of articles on the Nobel-winner sperm bank, sports and blogging are a great match (both from Slate), In Our Time archives (BBC Radio 4’s popular science et al show), yet another piece on the relationship of blogging and journalism, what’s the deal with ebooks anyhow?, hypertext nonfiction, Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Economic and Social Systems (This wide-ranging book is about how machines, the economy, and all large human-made inventions are becoming biological.), a review of two books about primates (from LRB), The Corpse (an online Dark Horse comic book, nay, graphic novel), The History of the DeCSS Haiku, the Skeptic Magazine and an article on ”the next Christianity” (from The Atlantic).


Okay, I can’t resist adding these three: Why nerds are unpopular, five geek social fallacies (which are both sorta insta-classics and quite American as well) and Columbine, five years later (from Salon).


As a note to my previous entry, I have to mention that a friend of mine – who’se vehemently anti-blogging, by the way – said that what are blogs if not autobiographical first novels?

Writing vs. journalism

Joseph Epstein begins his a commentary of The Midnight Disease by Alice W. Flaherty like this:

I was recently asked what it takes to become a writer. Three things, I answered: first, one must cultivate incompetence at almost every other form of profitable work. This must be accompanied, second, by a haughty contempt for all the forms of work that one has established one cannot do. To these two must be joined, third, the nuttiness to believe that other people can be made to care about your opinions and views and be charmed by the way you state them. Incompetence, contempt, lunacy.once you have these in place, you are set to go.

Not a bad start. But what interests me is his take on the differences of writing (novels, I suppose) and journalism:

A pity she does not appear to know the truth-laden aphorism of Karl Kraus, the Viennese wit: ”a journalist, given time, writes worse.”

I taught would-be novelists, poets, and essayists for three decades at Northwestern University. Many of them demonstrated much greater ability than I at their age, yet nothing much has happened to the vast majority of them. Or, rather, the world happened to them, intervening in their grand plans to become serious writers by placing genuine obstacles in their way or by holding out other prospects and possibilities: marriage and family, honorable and better-paying work, the temptations of journalism.

(Emphasis mine.)

I think it was Tom Wolfe who wrote that during the 20th century many American journalists considered their careers only as stepping stones on their way to writing the Next Big American Realistic Novel. After all, that was what Mark Twain and others had done. However, says Wolfe, these wanna-bes failed because they lacked the sine non qua to become a bona fide author.

I for one have no real interest in writing fiction. I mean, if I wanted to do that, I’d be studying to become an author and not a journalist, right? Maybe this whole all journalists are failed authors thing is inherently American. Going by my gut feeling I’d be willing to say that not too many Finnish reporters harbour secret wishes of authordom. Most of the newspaper people seem to be quite happy the way they are. Maybe they’d like to get more space every now and then, but people seem to be quite focused on writing news, not just writing.

Which is not to say I’d like to be an author myself. Stuff like The New Yorker (the subscription of which is dirt cheap, by the way) or new journalism appeals to me greatly because of the combination of form and content. I don’t even want to writing fiction, because I can’t see the appeal. Does this make me a failed author?

Read more, boyo

I just rearranged our bookshelves so that all the unread books are in one place. The end result is depressing, as it shows what a lazy slob I am when it comes to books I oughta read. That’s 34 titles there alone, some purchased quite a while ago, most still unopened. And that’s not even counting the books from the library. If we count those, the total sum goes up to 73. Depressing.

On the other hand I’m quite happy with the DVD shelves and Tiuku obviously enjoys the bookshelf. So it’s not all doom and gloom.

Word 189: Rappel

As long they could fulfill the public’s craving for purpose and the conservative’s desires to hold onto their pots, the fascists could rappel their way into power.

rappel (v) : lower oneself with a double rope coiled around the body from a mountainside [syn: abseil, rope down] – source: Who’s a fascist?