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The shame of snip and share

Offscreen Film Festival 2008 @ Brussels. Photo: Jeffrey De Keyser.

Offscreen Film Festival 2008 @ Brussels. Photo: Jeffrey De Keyser.

When I started this blog I was worried it would distract me from what I rather stuffily thought of as my “real” writing. I don’t feel that way anymore. Indeed this odd little online creation isn’t just very definitely part of my real writing, it’s also often the bit I enjoy the most.

The thing I didn’t understand back then was that the real problem with blogging isn’t that it’s time-consuming, it’s that it’s completely tyrannical. Don’t post for a day and you feel bad about it, don’t post for a week and you start to feel like you’re letting everybody (including yourself) down. Half the time I feel like I’ve woken up to find myself playing the part of Seymour in an online version of Little Shop of Horrors.

Which is, of course, a roundabout way of apologizing for the fact the site’s been a bit neglected lately. It’s not intentional, just that between work and the fairly appalling schedule I’m on with my novel I’ve been struggling to find the time to post. I think – I hope – things have turned the corner a bit, and I’ll be getting some stuff up this week, but I’m not going to go making any big promises.

To which end I’m going to do something I generally avoid, which is offer a few links in place of content. I’ve got nothing against linking per se, but it always seems a bit like cheating, the sort of thing you do when you’re too busy to write something original. Which I am, of course, but if I keep typing fast enough perhaps I can distract you from that*.

So, without further ado. The most recent issue of The New Yorker has a fascinating interview with Ursula Le Guin, focussed in large part on her 1969 classic, The Left Hand of Darkness, and her feelings about its then-radical take on gender politics, and the manner in which they simultaneously reflect the more conventional attitudes of its times. They’re interesting questions, not least because they recur in the context of Le Guin’s revisionist re-entry into the world of Earthsea in Tehanu (and to a lesser extent, The Other Wind), a book which attempted to unpick the patriarchal underpinnings of one of fantasy’s most remarkable – and enduring – creations.

Meanwhile, over at Sight and Sound, you can read the single best piece of writing about television I’ve read this year, as Kent Jones probes the allure of The Wire. As I’ve said here before, despite my admiration for its many very real achievements, The Wire is a show I often find frustrating. Given the critical consensus that it is one of, if not “the greatest television show ever made”, that often leaves me feeling like a naysayer, but Jones very elegantly teases out many of what I’d see as the show’s weaknesses, while simultaneously illuminating the things which make it so remarkable.

In a completely different vein, at The Chronicle of Higher Education, Michael Ruse uses an exploration of the scientific and philosophical antecedents to James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis to examine what has always seemed to me to be one of the more oddly neglected aspects of the climate change debate, which is the manner in which it encapsulates a more fundamental argument about the nature of science itself. And, at The Guardian, Lovelock himself gives one of his trademark doomsayer interviews to celebrate his 90th birthday.

And finally, ever wondered about the link between heroic drinking and great writing? Well at Intelligent Life Tom Shone has some answers (and they may not be the ones you want to hear).

* The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed I’ve been using Delicious to post links in the right-hand column for a while now. Sadly they’re not that obvious (and I’m less diligent than I might be in keeping them up to date) but when I finally get my redesign off the ground I’ll be expanding that functionality.

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7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Well, I haven’t blogged in three years and I mainly keep my blogs for history and comments – and of course for the future.

    Links are very good. Do you ever use the Arts Chronicle? Because they give me something to read, which in turn feeds into my writing and my general knowledge of life.

    I have been studying up about the planetismal hypothesis from 1900s to the 1930s.

    Little Shop of Horrors …

    August 10, 2009
  2. Jane #

    Great post James. I love a bit of snip and share. No shame. I really enjoyed Michael Ruse’s piece on Lovelock, Gaia, climate change and first principles. I always like being taken back to the Greeks, especially Plato’s Timaeus. I’m all for the 2500-year context.

    August 10, 2009
    • Timaeus wasn’t even one I had heard of. Was surprised to hear that it was THE Plato work known in the Middle Ages.

      When I think of Gaia, I think of a tree and the air. And the whole earth-as-an-organism thing. The comments on the Chronicle article were really interesting, especially the one which extended the idea to the universe.

      August 10, 2009
  3. The Resurrectionist is an absolutely beautiful book. The prose is memorable, poetic and philosophical in places.
    Unforgettable and brilliant.

    August 11, 2009
  4. theblackglove #

    I’ve reviewed the novel here, James:

    This is decidely not a cheap plug for my blog 😀 – I’ve been trying to alert people to the sheer excellence of your book on every writer’s site I frequent. 🙂

    August 11, 2009
  5. No worries Steve – plug away! And thank you a second time for your kind (and perceptive) words. It’s always nice to feel someone understood what you were trying to do, and you have, so thanks.

    August 12, 2009

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