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Depression, creativity and some more linkage

coming-soonI’ve not seen it yet, but the print edition of Saturday’s Age has an extract from my Griffith Review piece on depression and creativity. If it ever turns up online I’ll link to it, but in the meantime, just a reminder I’ve posted the complete, unedited version on this site, or you can download it as a pdf from the Griffith Review site. And please remember you can subscribe to Griffith Review by visiting their website, or purchase individual copies of Essentially Creative from Gleebooks, Readings or bricks and mortar bookshops everywhere.

Meanwhile, following on from Friday’s post about The Second Pass, I thought I’d link to another site I hadn’t seen until very recently, The Millions. A group blog with a very impressive list of regular and guest contributors, it offers intelligent – and substantial – commentary about books, arts and culture, and has recently offered a series of excellent articles about the future of book coverage.

That short piece about The Second Pass (and more particularly Genevieve, of Reeling and Writhing’s characteristically generous comment on it) reminded me that when I set this site up, one of my aims was to share links to articles and sites I thought were worth reading. That ambition rather fell by the wayside, largely because I found the tone of the site as it developed didn’t really suit a lot of linking and aggregation. I’m currently working on a major redesign which will allow me to aggregate links more effectively (a redesign which may also involve a name change, since I’ve rather taken against the name), but in the meantime, I though I’d offer a link to another site, and in particular a piece, I think everybody with an interest in the future of media should read, which is Clay Shirky’s ‘Thinking the Unthinkable’. It’s a month or so old now, but if you haven’t read it you should – it’s probably the most significant piece of writing the blogosphere has seen in the last twelve months.

And finally, my apologies if the content on the site has been a bit rackety recently. I’ve had a bit of a messy few weeks health and work-wise, so I’ve not really been on top of things (the WordPress system’s decision to eat my long post about the death of J.G. Ballard didn’t help either). But I’ve got good things planned for coming weeks, so stay tuned.

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12 Comments Post a comment
  1. I hope that the redesign goes really well for you and does all that you would like it to do.

    Griffith Review is a really important magazine, especialy for the ‘literary’ writers, and it will be great to read the Age piece in view of the fuller one. There are many great things in A2, like the Independent Type exhibition at the State Library and the Salvador Dali exhibition.

    And Shirky is right: the last couple of decades have been, well, exceptional! The newspapers tried to think up good competitive ideas to make the Internet work for them, mostly in one sentence.

    I see they took out the gruesome parts with On Depression and Creativity.

    April 26, 2009
  2. poempig #

    James I’ve quoted you on my poem pig blog.

    http://poempig.wordpress.com

    Your article on depression hit hard. Not like a slap across the face. It was so steel-like in its intensity it levered off the top of my head and poured itself into my brain.

    There were poetic lines everywhere. But I grabbed these two to quote. I hope this suits you. Any worries get back to me. poempog.

    April 26, 2009
  3. I’d be interested in seeing your thoughts on Ballard if you can resurrect them. The general feeling within the sf community of one of great loss, and also bemusement at the obituaries. Most of them seem to think Ballard’s work started sometime in the late sixties around the time of “Crash” (after he’d been through his typically British 1960s apocalyptic phase) and never wrote sf at all.

    “File 770” links to a BBC program that features an interview (http://file770.com/?cat=113) with the author in which he states quite categorically that he considers himself an sf author and is proud of it.

    I’m not sure if Martin Amis has written anything about Ballard yet but there seem to be some inklings that Martin and his father, Kingsley, viewed Ballard through very different eyes. It’d be interesting to compare the two.

    Just after I heard that Ballard had died I dragged out an old edition of “The Drought” which I probably read for the first and only time about 30 years ago. I’m aiming to get to it soon, just as soon as I get past Silverberg’s “Dying Inside”. SF Classics both of them. Maybe I’m at an age when I can finally appreciate them.

    April 27, 2009
  4. In order:

    Poempig and Adelaide, thank you for your kind words, I appreciate them. And the redesign is coming, though slowly – I’m a bit of a CSS novice, so wrangling themes and self-hosting has got me on a bit of a steep learning curve. But don’t get your hopes up too high – basically what I want to do is add another column and aggregate links, as well as improve the social networking aspects of the site. Sadly not everything I want to do is out of the box though.

    Perry – I’m still cranky about the Ballard post, which got eaten by the system when I pressed the publish button. No idea what went on, but something happened to another post later, which suggests to me the wordpress.com system was on the fritz. But I will resurrect it if I have a moment, not least because I think that tension around whether he was an “SF” author or not (I’m generally resistant to the label, as you know) is so complex. Mostly what I wanted to do was tell a story about a woman I met who was interned with him though (a small story, but a nice one).
    And if you’re reading Silverberg, did you see this piece by Jonathan Lethem? http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-et-robert-silverberg21-2009apr21,0,15112,full.story

    April 28, 2009
  5. Hadn’t seen the LA Times piece on Silverberg so thanks for that. Tor have recently re-issued “Dying Inside”, hence the extra coverage. Hopefully, Silverberg will be in Australia next year for the World SF Convention. Given he’s now 76 this might be the last time he gets here. He still looks pretty fit so chances are good.

    The general consensus in the mainstream media is that SF concerns itself with robots and spaceships, but it’s much more than that, as Ballard and Silverberg show. Silverberg has a “love-hate” relationship with SF that is understandable. He probably hates the label as it restricts him to only one part of the bookshop and alienates a lot of potential readers, and loves it because he has a loyal readership and has a lot of close friends in the community. Hopefully, re-issues such as this will help break down some of the barriers.

    April 29, 2009
  6. Hi James,

    Great website, and an absolutely sterling piece on depression (hard won I would have thought…)

    Thought both you and Perry might be interested to know that Amis has indeed written on Ballard — in last week’s Guardian. Hope the link below works…

    And awful too lose a post. I stopped blogging entirely when some creep wiped out six months of blog posts. I mean who would bother hacking an obscure Australian writer’s post for the joy of it? Go figure…

    Look forward to more, and every best wish for some very good health.

    Warm regards
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/apr/25/jg-ballard-martin-amis

    May 1, 2009
  7. Here’s the Amis essay I thought might be appearing at some time: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/apr/25/jg-ballard-martin-amis

    May 1, 2009
  8. Man, that essay’s wonderful. Thanks all.

    May 7, 2009
  9. oh whoops, I meant the Amis essay on Ballard. (Yours, James, I have already commented on and thanked for elsewhere, I think. )

    May 7, 2009
  10. James!

    Nice work.

    This is especially beautiful:

    “when I am depressed I am so emotionally labile that even ordinary moments of human life often bring on a raw ache I can barely control, leaving me afraid I will break down and weep in the most inappropriate places. On the medication, my frightening lability was gone – but so too was the sense of sadness and tenderness in the everyday of which I have always been aware.”

    That acute sensitivity is what I pay an author for when I hand over my thirty bucks for a copy of a book. Call me old fashioned, but when I read a book, or look at a work of art, or spend two hours of my life in the dark at a play or a film, I do not want to be entertained, I want to be moved. I want tears and gut wrenching catharsis. I want to come through the experience and think to myself ‘thank God I’m not the only one.

    That is what artists are for, not decoration. Artists are the hypersensitive spinners at the edge of the herd picking up the signs and portents. They explain us to each other by imagining the best and the worst of our potential.

    Would the artist’s experience have the same power over my response if its intensity were dampened by medication?

    Don’t know. But reading your article, I’m delighted to find that I’m not the only one!

    Cheers
    Annette Hughes

    May 8, 2009
  11. andria #

    Dear James,

    Yours article in The Age was beautiful.

    You are incredibly gifted as a writer and a person.

    Thank you for sharing your talent with the world.

    Andria

    May 27, 2009
  12. Thank you Andria, and everybody else. It means a lot to me that so many people have found something in this piece.

    May 27, 2009

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