Sunday, March 27, 2005

Spring Break(s)

Well, our first week away is almost over.

Remember, The Nowhere Man...I will probably have you write about the book to get back into the groove of things. A reading quiz and free write are likely. Be prepared.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Unreliable Third

Comments and conversation about this exercise.

Unreliable Third.
Write a fragment of a story from the PoV of an unreliable narrator—third-person limited (or attached) narration. This is a deliberate misuse of the more objective third-person narration. What makes a writer choose first person over third person in a story? Usually, an unreliable or naïve narration is spoken, in the first-person voice of the untrustworthy narrator. What happens when you give us a slightly detached, yet still unreliable narration? This means that we will hear the thoughts of this character and see what this character tells us to see. Sindra smelled smoke, so she pulled the fire alarm. What if we find out later that Sindra had not smelled any smoke?

500 words.


Comments and conversation for this exercise.

Imperative. Write a fragment of a story that is made up entirely of imperative commands: do this; do that; contemplate the rear end of the man or woman who is walking out of your life. This exercise will be a sort of second-person narration (a “you” is implied in the imperative).

500 words.

Note: Remember that I am asking you to write a 300-600 word examination of the process used to write the exercises in this round. Use the blog as a space to flesh out how you see yourself working on the story for the first exercise, and the fragment of a story for this exercise. And, what is the difference between a story and a fragment of a story?

The Reluctant "I"

Comments or conversation about this exercise.

The Reluctant I.

Write a first-person story in which you use the first-person pronoun (I or me or my) only two times—but keep the I somehow important to the narrative you’re constructing. The point of this exercise is to imagine a narrator who is less interested in himself or herself than in what he or she is observing. You can make your narrator someone who sees an interesting event in which she is not necessarily a participant. Or you can make him self-effacing yet a major participant in the events related.

600 words.

Note: this exercise asks you to write a story in 600 words. It might be helpful to consider what kind of story is suited to 600 words. Much of the stories you have been attempting to squeeze into 600 words for the prior exercises have not worked out in the end. What does it mean to work within these constraints rather than to work in spite of them?

The Nowhere Man

How is the reading going?

What should we talk about when we talk about Hemon?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Names

Use the comments section for this post to publish your name and word list from the exercise.

If you would like to publish any of your exercises from last workshop and/or this one, I will place them up on the site to be critiqued further by your classmates and the reading public.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

A reading list

David's point about Poe's influence on Baudelaire and a talk I had with a student after class led me to this.

Not that any of you should feel obligated to read the works listed. If Baudelaire has your attention, then you should do something with your engagement. The list below is a suggestion, not meant to represent an expert opinion, not meant to offer a key to solve Baudelarian problems. And the focus is on the speculative and the flaneur. I could have focused on "the everyday," for example.

If you discover anything worth sharing with the class, use the comments below to share. ) Lurker-input welcome.

  • Edgar Allen Poe: Poems and Poetics, Library of America, 2003.
  • The Science Fiction of Edgar Allen Poe, Penguin Classics, 1976.
  • "On Some Motifs in Baudelaire," Illuminations, Schocken Books, 1969.
  • "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," Illuminations, Schocken Books, 1969.
  • The Arcades Project, Walter Benjamin, Belknap Press, 2002.
  • American Flaneur: The Cosmic Physiognomy of Edgar Allen Poe, James V. Werner, Routledge, 2004.
  • The Flaneur, Routledge, 1994.

Monday, February 14, 2005


Particularly, check out the most recent cited usage of the word, from 1969: "The electronic age may yet see every man a flaneur." The Internet and the Flaneur?

flâneur (Oxford English Dictionary, Second Ed, 1989)

[F. flâneur, f. flâner: see prec.]

A lounger or saunterer, an idle ‘man about town’. Also transf. Hence flane, flâne, flané, flâné v. intr., to saunter, to laze.

1854 Harper's Mag. Aug. 411/2 Did you ever fail to waste at least two hours of every sunshiny day, in the long-ago time when you played the flaneur, in the metropolitan city, with looking at shop-windows? 1872 E. BRADDON Life in India vi. 236 He will affect a knowledge of London life that only comes to the regular flâneur after years of active experience. 1876 OUIDA Winter City vi. 149 An existence which makes the life of the Paris flâneurs look very poor indeed. 1876 L. TROUBRIDGE Life amongst Troubridges (1966) xi. 143 Shopped the whole morning{em}flanéed down Regent Street. 1894 G. DU MAURIER Trilby III. VIII. 155 They are going to laze and flane about the boulevards. 1896 G. B. SHAW Our Theatres in Nineties (1932) II. 217 The boundary which separates the clever flâneur from the dramatist. 1897 G. DU MAURIER Martian IV. 175 To his great surprise he saw Bonzig leisurely flâning about. 1938 H. G. WELLS Apropos of Dolores i. 13 In Paris, in London I have been a happy flâneur; I have flâné-d in New York and Washington and most of the great cities of Europe. 1954 I. MURDOCH Under Net xv. 203 The fishermen were fishing, and the flâneurs were flaning. 1969 Computers & Humanities IV. 29 The electronic age may yet see every man a flaneur.

Charles Baudelaire

Check out this link for bio & etc.

Walter Benjamin

from One-Way Street

"Post No Bills"

The Writer's Technique in Thirteen Theses

I. Anyone intending to embark on a major work should be lenient with himself and, having completed a stint, deny himself nothing that will not prejudice the next.

II. Talk about what you have written, by all means, but do not read from it while the work is in progress. Every gratification procured in this way will slacken your tempo. If this regime is followed, the growing desire to communicate will become in the end a motor for completion.

III. In your working conditions avoid everyday mediocrity. Semi-relaxation, to a background of insipid sounds, is degrading. On the other hand, accompaniment by an etude or a cacophony of voices can become as significant for work as the perceptible silence of the night. If the latter sharpens the inner ear, the former acts as a touchstone for a diction ample enough to bury even the most wayward sounds.

IV. Avoid haphazard writing materials. A pedantic adherence to certain papers, pens, inks is beneficial. No luxury, but an abundance of these utensils is indispensable.

V. Let no thought pass incognito, and keep your notebook as strictly as the authorities keep their register of aliens.

VI. Keep your pen aloof from inspiration, which it will then attract with magnetic power. The more circumspectly you delay writing down an idea, the more maturely developed it will be on surrendering itself. Speech conquers thought, but writing commands it.

VII. Never stop writing because you have run out of ideas. Literary honour requires that one break off only at an appointed moment (a mealtime, a meeting) or at the end of the work.

VIII. Fill the lacunae of inspiration by tidily copying out what is already written. Intuition will awaken in the process.

IX. Nulla dies sine linea -- but there may well be weeks.

X. Consider no work perfect over which you have not once sat from evening to broad daylight.

XI. Do not write the conclusion of a work in your familiar study. You would not find the necessary courage there.

XII. Stages of composition: idea -- style -- writing. The value of the fair copy is that in producing it you confine attention to calligraphy. The idea kills inspiration, style fetters the idea, writing pays off style.

XIII. The work is the death mask of its conception.

The Critic's Technique in Thirteen Theses

I. The critic is the strategist in the literary battle.

II. He who cannot take sides should keep silent.

III. The critic has nothing in common with the interpreter of past cultural epochs.

IV. Criticism must talk the language of artists. For the terms of the cenacle are slogans. And only in slogans is the battle-cry heard.

V. "Objectivity" must always be sacrificed to partisanship, if the cause fought for merits this.

VI. Criticism is a moral question. If Goethe misjudged Holderlin and Kleist, Beethoven and Jean Paul, his morality and not his artistic discernment was at fault.

VII. For the critic his colleagues are the higher authority. Not the public. Still less posterity.

VIII. Posterity forgets or acclaims. Only the critic judges in face of the author.

IX. Polemics mean to destroy a book in a few of its sentences. The less it has been studies the better. Only he who can destroy can criticize.

X. Genuine polemics approach a book as lovingly as a cannibal spices a baby.

XI. Artistic enthusiasm is alien to the critic. In his hand the art©work is the shining sword in the battle of the minds.

XII. The art of the critic in a nutshell: to coin slogans without betraying ideas. The slogans of an inadequate criticism peddle ideas to fashion.

XIII. The public must always be proved wrong, yet always feel represented by the critic.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Writing Habits

How do you get down to the business of writing? What is your process? If you haven't thought about this, then reflect for a few minutes and share the story behind your writing. I hope the blogosphere's writer-lurkers will participate.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Responding to others' exercises

What questions do you all have now that you've been reading each others' work?