waryalbatross asked: Hi John, there's a lot of stuff I want to ask you, but I've just had a terrible week of loss and rejection in my "budding art career" and it really sucks and it seems like something you would have a piece of wisdom for. How do you cope with putting your ego and life's work on the line over and over?
I tried to answer this a bunch of times but I don’t really know! You hold onto Berryman’s line — “It is idle to reply to critics” — and understand that the actual work isn’t the thing you make, but the process that makes it, whose inherent value and dignity is well beyond any debate, because it is an expression of your self and therefore nobody can really judge it.
this is an unsatisfying answer, I know, artists have struggled with varying degrees of success over how to deal with these problems forever. the simple terrible platitudes of kindergarten are actually applicable here — the ones that tell you your work is good no matter what anyone thinks of it — but they seldom help much in the short term. in the long term, they do. people didn’t get very excited about Get Lonely when it was new. we were bummed! we felt it was our best work. we thought we’d gone somewhere special, unique in our work, its own place. over time, the people who relate to our impulse on that record have found it and connected with it, and the people who didn’t care for it have stopped thinking about it, because not many people spend a lot of time dwelling on work they didn’t care for.
but as I say this is a question people struggle with, I don’t think there’s a “here’s what you do” answer (and I reject, with thanks, any allegations that I am wise). you keep your focus on the work, I figure. when your focus wanders, you bring it back.
"I probably shouldn’t have taken things so seriously."
"In what way?"
"I think I changed too much when I got married. I tried to fit the role too much. I came from a big Italian family, so there was a lot of emphasis on being the ‘provider.’ You know— you gotta be the man. Gotta set an example. I guess I always thought that if I kept doing drugs, drinking, and partying, my kids wouldn’t have wanted to succeed."
"So you think should have done more drugs, drank more, and partied more?"
[OC] My map project: Every ethno-linguistic group gets a nation! based primarily on language-speaker distribution but also has quite a bit of irredentism and historical revision(ie certain extinct groups coming back to life) thrown in. Obviously not comple
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Antoine-Louis Barye Statue of Theseus Combating the Centaur Bienor circa 1850
Books of 2014 - #19: The Child Buyer by John Hersey
I saw this at the library book sale last fall and just had to know what a book called The Child Buyer could be about. Surprise! It’s about a guy buying children!
Actually he only wants to buy super smart children who will then be used for some government/business purpose that isn’t made clear until the book is almost three quarters finished. In the meantime, you just get little hints at what it could be for via a hearing. The entire novel is written almost more like a play, because it’s written as if it is the stenographer’s record of the hearing called by state senators to investigate the child buyer and his activities.
Actually for the better part of reading it, I didn’t like this book much. The cast of characters are all pretty two dimensional and unrealistic. But then again, so is openly admitting to buying children. As I went along I began to wonder if the characters are flat because it isn’t well written or because it’s meant to be representational art rather than realistic (cf. renaissance painting v. medieval painting). As it turns out it’s probably supposed to be representational. I didn’t realize until the end, but properly speaking this is a dystopian novel. Read in that context the characters all have a specific part to play for the story to reach it’s conclusion, so I’m no longer concerned about the lack of reality.
That said, I still didn’t really enjoy this book much. It was interesting, and I’m glad I read it, but I probably won’t recommend it to anyone. For that matter, I won’t dissuade anyone from reading it either. I am curious, though, what Hersey’s other books are like. I’m not going to make a priority out of finding them, but if one turns up, I’ll set it aside for later.
P.S. Tumblr is telling me that dystopian is spelling wrong, When I click on it, the only suggested spelling is utopian. This troubles me.
You know, funny story: There’s this craft store called Michaels. Look, my sister knits, and she goes to Michaels. So my sister called me and she’s like, “Oh my god, I’m at Michaels, picking up yarn. You have a poster at Michaels.” I’m like, “What?” She’s like, “There’s a poster, there’s a Falcon poster at Michaels.” I’m like, “Holy s**t!” She’s like, “I’m gonna come and pick you up, and we’re gonna see your poster in this store.” So she picks me up and we go to Michaels.
We go in, and I see the poster and I’m like, “Oh, this is….” She’s like, “I know, I know.” I said, “I’m gonna sign these posters.” I was like, “That would be amazing, you buy a poster and it’s like, actually signed by the Falcon.” Like, it would blow my mind. So I go to the front, I buy a Sharpie, I run back to the back of the store. And she’s like, “I’m gonna take a picture of you signing it.”
I’m in this store and I’m signing all the posters. The manager comes out, he’s like, “Hey, whatcha doing?” I was like, “Oh man, I’m signing these posters so when people buy ‘em, they’re signed.” He’s like, “Well, people are not gonna buy ‘em if they’re signed.” And I was like, “No, no, no, it’s cool. I’m pretty sure there won’t be a problem.” And he goes, “Yeah, but it is gonna be a problem, you’re messin’ up my inventory.” And I’m like, “No, my man, trust me. I mean, I’m the Falcon, that’s me!” And he goes, “Yeah, right. You’re gonna buy those posters.” I said, “What?” He’s like, “You’re gonna buy all those posters or I’m gonna call the police.”
He rolls up all the posters and goes to the front of the store. And I had to buy like 60 Falcon posters that I signed in Michaels.