Posts filtered by tag: writing


by CrackedWire /


Fear not, for this is the Word of God.
Tremble instead at the silence that follows.

So said the speaker, muffled itself by the static of angels.
The Word sang alongside an electric chorus.
Surrounded by wires, the man repentant sat
raptured by screens.

The last Light screamed from diodes.
Backlight bathed him in taunting vollies.
Clutching at cables gone cold,
he prayed to dead pixels for pardons never promised.
Do systems sing in hushed tones? Preaching in signals
unencoded, but seldom rendered?

Tears, caught in cameras and sanctified in scripture,
unfurled through the techniques of laws well-known.
Salvation sprang not from the lenient scapes of content
but was erected out of pious processes, each more terrible than before.
Go then, and hear the familiar hum,
then listen loudly to the excruciating silence.

#writing #technology

Prison Bells

by SoupWanderer /


I'll come out honestly and say that I really don't think Tayari Jones's An American Marriage lives up to the hype. I have no clue why Oprah picked it for her book club, nor why it received such effusive praise from outlets such as The New York Times and The Atlantic. Don't get me wrong, it is incredibly well written. The author is skilled at writing and the prose is vivid and beautiful. But for approximately ⅔ of the book, we are merely flicking through a plot that is grounded in horrific and timely circumstances, but that has a strange emptiness of soul. It is like looking at one of Celestial's poupees, which are perfectly adorable and artistic, but something is ever so slightly off.

Deciding you don't like a book is always a tricky situation, especially when it is being widely praised as "Brilliant and heartbreaking..." (USA Today) and "Epic... Transcendent... Triumphant..." (Elle). It's not really heartbreaking as it is frustrating, and it's not really triumphant. Where are these book reviewers getting their adjectives from?

Part of what makes the book simultaneously easy to flick through and hard to read is that two of the three narrators are not really likable nor engaging characters. Nearly every time I read anything by Andre, whose defining characteristic is being "sweet" (which apparently stands in place of any serious personality), my eyes glazed over and I just flicked for plot. Celestial is more real but difficult to sympathize with. My biggest problem with Celestial is that she is selfish, but doesn't commit to what she's selfish about! Since her relationship with her husband Roy is the most closely explored, we best understand why she ultimately ends their relationship after he is wrongfully imprisoned for half a decade, because as she says, "A marriage is more than your heart, it's your life. And we are not sharing ours". That I resonate with, that made sense to me. But instead of proceeding with a divorce, Celestial continues her relationship with Andre while keeping Roy in limbo. That makes no sense, and it makes the "love triangle" in this book feel seriously contrived. Seriously, this relationship is not a love triangle - it's more like a love anglerfish, where the union of Celestial and Andre is solid and whole, like a female anglerfish, while Roy is basically the tiny male anglerfish, desperately trying to hang on while withering away.

What makes a book good or bad? Is it just because the characters are likable or unlikable? Because we don't like where the plot ends up? Of course not - enjoyment is subjective, but quality is objective. I'll give you one thing that I consider a pretty big knock against the potential of the book - Tayari Jones spent one whole year researching America's prison industrial system, and it barely makes it into the book. She even acknowledges it herself in the post-book essay. And in general, that's probably where the book fails the most. It has lofty aspirations to talk about the prison system, class inequality, intergenerational trauma, and love. But it fails at seriously examining any of those things, most disappointingly of all, love! Making your characters talk about love with embroidered sentences does not convince me that they love each other. Half of the time that I read about Roy and Celestial say that they loved each other, I felt that they were trying to convince themselves and me, which doesn't make for a very strong case. Celestial seems self-aware of this towards the end; Roy, not so much. For me, that's disappointing. They're both far more caught up in their own aspirations to live a bourgeois life, to buy nicer houses and scale up their doll store. And maybe that is the ultimate takeaway from this book, which is about many things but is ultimately supposed to be about love. Maybe the ultimate takeaway is that to chase being a part of the bourgeoisie under capitalism requires you to be atomistic, and requires you to forsake the idea of loving someone unless all circumstances conveniently line up. If you want to start your career as an artist who embroiders Swarovski crystals on dolls, can you really afford to wait for a husband who's in jail, no matter how wrongfully he was convicted? Doesn't it make sense that you have to erase his existence to preserve your reputation as an artist extraordinaire, not the perpetual wife of a prisoner?

The book isn't all bad - one of the things I cherish the most is reading about the true love between Roy's working-class parents, Big Roy and Olive. If you decide to read this book, I recommend you really appreciate the sections about them. They teach us that love is not about convenience - it's about rolling with the punches of someone else's decisions and choosing to live your life alongside them, loving them so deeply that when they pass, a piece of you goes into the earth with them. It is something precious, that no Swarovski crystal nor Mercedes Benz can ever replace.

#books #writing

Please Find My Thoughts Attached

by CrackedWire /


That would be nice... Of course, I know my beliefs, as they are structured, researched, forged in the flames of imagined debates with inept foes. When I call myself a socialist, I thoroughly mean... This tree looks quite nice what kind of tree is it? Must be a birch. Hmmm, a beer sounds really good right about now...

Such are the cogent thoughts of an ideologue. Left on their own, thoughts tend to swirl, blend into one another, and trail off, never to be found again. Yet, in writing, such as this particular paragraph, a thought is made concrete, however partial. Through the reflection of writing, language can be wrestled with, fashioned to look one way or another. Moreover, this writing or language is not solely the intellectual property of each of us, all developing our own proprietary language ™ (at least not yet). It is external, made by others, developed over time, and objective, in the sense that they "exist" as an object in our mind.

I say all this nonsense to really remark on this weird world of blogging. This is not putting "pen to paper," but rather slamming away at a keyboard, writing in HTML because of the way I naively set up the SQL database behind this website. It could hardly be said that I am writing in "English." In fact, as others would remark, I am not. Either way, the consideration of "writing" now involves thinking through and coding just how exactly thoughts are to be presented, structured, datafied and stored. This even says nothing of how they are being algorithmically flung around, hyperlinked, and perhaps even turned into memes.

While this all sounds rather 2000s or earlier (admittedly, even the word "blog" sounds dated now), this conversation is far more relevant today. The behemoths of Facebook, Twitter, Google, and many others enter this very intimate flurry of thoughts. My previous stream of consciousness can now possibly be read as various potentials for tweets. Rather than fashioning some sense out of a chaotic flurry, this constant circulation of text becomes "content" to be commodified and endlessly passed around. Part of the "mission" of this site is to see a way out of this. This being said, I'm not too deluded into thinking that this "writing" will offer clarity in this goal. If anything, putting an abrupt end to this circulation will likely do more good than this. Despite these facts, this writing is not necessarily geared towards a target audience or is a strategic piece of "content" (I already do that as a copywriter); instead, this is an act of "writing" with the aim to eventually make sense.

#technology #writing