writing tips from ol’ uncle walt benjamin

"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.


— from Walter Benjamin, One-Way Street


 

one of jim thompson’s last novels—a harrowing tale of race hate, incest & revenge!

Bookseller Photo

book cover of 

Child Of Rage 

by

Jim Thompson 

if céline had a kid brother…

… he would have been a lot like Francis Carco (1886-1958). Carco was regarded as a serious writer in mid-twentieth century France: a winner of the Grand Prix du Roman of The Académie Française, a member of the Académie Goncourt, he was an intimate of Colette, Modigliani, Utrillo, and Cocteau, an integral part of the last Bohemia of Paris and an unflinching portrayer of the street life of Montmartre, often writing in the argot of the Parisian demi-monde. In the U.S. he was published by Berkley Books (35 cents a copy), and marketed as a kind of Gallicized—and hence depraved—Mickey Spillane. Apparently Carco, in his capacity as Katherine Mansfield’s lover, gave her syphilis and perhaps the tuberculosis that killed her. His best work is generally regarded to be his novel Perversité, first published in 1928 and translated into English by Jean Rhys (her lover Ford Madox Ford was wrongfully identified as the translator in the first English edition). No less a luminary than Ford himself described Perversity as “a second Madame Bovary.”


                                              

 
Chapter II of Perversity:

He thought that he was in a place where, notwithstanding Irma’s comings and goings, his comfort would be the first consideration. Then one night, towards midnight, he was awakened by an unusual noise. Emile listened. In La Rouque’s room a man was talking without troubling to lower his voice, and the girl—far from silencing the speaker—answered with animation. Once or twice Emile heard a laugh, and protested by a grunt.

“He chut! chut!”
then said Irma, but too late. Emile was awake. He sat up in bed and asked weakly: “Is this noise going on for long?”

Someone answered at once: “No, no, all right.”

“Annoying people!” grumbled Emile. “Keeping people from sleeping!”

He waited, leaning on his elbow, then plunged into the bedclothes and shut his eyes. But he could not sleep. He tossed and turned, and perhaps for the first time began to picture his sister with a stranger—laughing and talking. He had never till the present moment dwelt on the thought of Irma in her room accomplishing her nightly task. But because he had been disturbed in his sleep, Emile confusedly began to imagine the scene which was taking place on the other side of the partition. He was not shocked. He was irritated, filled with ill temper and discontent. Certainly what Irma did was not his business, but why was she making such a noise? It was intolerable. At this time of night Emile did not admit this loud talking. Were they laughing at him? Did they mean to be personally disagreeable to him?

He grumbled: “If it begins again I’ll—”

The idea that they were doing it on purpose was provoking, and he was on the point of telling his sister that she must keep quiet, when a moaning sound, at first almost inaudible, but which grew louder, came from the next room, and Emile knew no more what to think. It was Irma moaning, and to her complaint the creaking of the bed added a cynical and degrading confession.

Then all that had gone before became precise to Emile’s eyes, assailed him with such force that he dared ask himself nothing more. “Ah well,” he thought, “well… well… Surely.” His wrath cooled down, and gave place to a feeling of stupor which increased as Irma’s sighs became more numerous and hoarser. The sounds reached him through the partition, as in a hospital the panting breath of a sick man dreaming can be heard by the helpless person in the next bed. Emile found himself in an exactly similar situation. He was unable to do anything, and could only wait for La Rouque to stop crying out from the next room her detestable and painful pleasure. Then she sometimes found pleasure? Emile felt humiliated at the idea. And with whom? He was curious about the unknown man. What could he be like? It was extraordinary. Emile could not picture him. The more he thought about it the more complex became his imaginings, his brain accumulating a hundred preposterous, grotesque and unlikely details.

Sometimes he told himself that there could be nothing very special about the individual. Sometimes on the contrary, Emile imagined him with striking features and an air which would force every one to notice him. And this idea was a very painful one. It was tormenting, for in order to react he was unconsciously comparing himself and opposing himself to the unknown. Alas! Emile had never given pleasure to a woman. He had done his best. But no! Never! Never to a single one. He had married two indolent and vulgar creatures: one had frankly disliked “the business,” the other had betrayed him the day after his marriage, and in his own house. Women were a detestable lot. Evidently he could have consoled himself with somebody else, but this he did not dream of doing. He thought far too highly of his own modest person to risk another adventure. The girls of the street did not tempt him. As for the women who awaited his choice in the different brothels of the quarter, the thought of them disgusted instead of pleasing him.

He sincerely felt that the best way of dealing with women was to carefully avoid them, to keep them at a proper distance. Once seduced by one of the creatures, what did a male become? A nincompoop. An imbecile. He knew it. He had paid dearly to know it—too dearly for what it was worth. Ou-la-la! Too dearly. Much too dearly… And from that experience had come his need to live alone, to avoid people, to occupy himself with his own comfort, to shut himself up every night at nine o’clock in his room and sleep. People could think what they like about him. So much the better. At any rate he was left in peace; and that was all he wanted. All his unhappiness had been caused by those two beings and they were associated in his mind—the dead woman and the unfaithful one. He condemned them both with severity.

And now, just when he hoped to arrange some possible sort of existence, Irma had interfered, and reopened the whole question. Emile felt that he was losing his temper, and if he made an effort to be patient, it was because of an obscure sentiment which he had for this sister, and of which, secretly, he was ashamed. Did La Rouque know that from his room he could hear everything that went on? She certainly did. And this sad certainty increased Emile’s irritation, obliged him to realize that Irma, when she felt so inclined, did not bother about a soul except herself. The whole night passed in this way. The man said something, got up, lay down again. Irma answered him and in her turn go up. The noise of water being poured out of the basin, of bare feet on the floor, succeeded to all the other noises. Then everything began all over again, and Emile meanwhile heard the ticking of his watch hung on the wall and wondered what the time was. He grumbled, agitated. What a night! It seemed to him that it would never end. The blood throbbed in his temples. The nerves knotted themselves in his legs and hands. He stiffened himself in vain, it was impossible to keep still; and when the dawn, a thousand times delayed—so he thought—paled between the shutters, it found him with wide open eyes amongst his disordered sheets, and his coverlet rolled into a ball. Emile got up quickly. He felt broken with fatigue, like those torpid animals whom one can see every morning moving between the shafts of the carts in the Halles is if they were walking in their sleep. He dressed himself, vent into the kitchen, took this shoes. The sink smelt abominably badly. He went back into his room. He acted mechanically, without thinking of what he was doing, an idea, strong, deeply rooted, had taken possession of him: he wished to see and never forget the man who was now sleeping at Irma’s side. This idea was absorbing and paralyzing. He stared at the shoes in his hand for a long time, thinking of the unknown, and telling himself over and over again that now at last he would know what he was like. However he could not quite make up his mind. Something which he could not quite define stopped him, held him back….

Suddenly the clattering of the milkman’s cart, which woke him every morning, sounded from the street. Emile recovered himself. He realized that everything inside him and around him was getting to work again. He placed his shoes under a chair with care, went softly into the passage, opening Irma’s door, approached the bed slowly and looked. The man and the girl were lying asleep. He was stretched out on his back quite naked, his mouth open, one arm thrust under the pillow; she was buried like a dead person under a big eiderdown.

Emile looked closer. The sleeper’s chest was covered with blue tattoo marks. A hand of Fatma and a dagger ornamented the left arm. Emile noticed also near the wrist three stars, cut deeply, and a name—Gilberte. Underneath were the letters P.L.V.

He asked himself what these mysterious letters could mean. He had not the least idea. And after all what did it matter? Emile had eyes only for the man stretched out inert on the bed. His hair was frizzy and he seemed to be small but robust. Emile was going to leave the room when he noticed particularly a long scar on the right side—of rose so pale that it astonished him.

                                                               

               
 

From Streetcorners:
 
Club Delta
It’s intermission and everyone steps outside for air. Two bars are lit, active. A throng has spilled onto the street. Nothing can be heard but the sparking and sputtering of striking matches punctuating a haze of cigarette smoke. All of a sudden, this noise subsides. A buzzer goes off and rustling sounds supersede: the audience shuffles back inside. Everyone sits. It’s curtain time.
 
I watch as a heavy-set man appears, wearing a black jacket, black vest, and black cravat. Sinister-looking, he cuts across the stage and through the crowded house, wading among the seats, waving a revolver. Slowly, he loads it in front of us, cocks it, and begins the atrocious pantomime. He has been cleaned out in a card game. Oblivious as a lunatic, he collapses on a chair, crying. But an odious force makes him get to his feet. My eyes are glued to the puffy flesh of his swollen face, his two stubby hands. Some cruel and tragic strength enables him to draw himself up blearily before us, the living embodiment of rank despair, anguished but redoubtable. He spares us nothing, not even the blood which dribbles from his lips when he fires the pistol point blank.
 
***
 
It was in a transient hotel, recently, that I saw myself again, shut up in a room, immobilized, not daring to go out at all. Where else would I have hidden myself except in one of these hotels of the basest order, among other anonymous clients of the night? There, passing many nights and days, lying in wait, watching, fully clothed, from behind a door or, at the slightest noise, taking flight over the rooftops, I had been terribly afraid, and I couldn’t shake the impression that I stayed there for centuries, perhaps, or that I had successively exhausted several existences which had yielded nothing but poisons to glut a trough already sloshing with disgust, shame, and desolation.
 

putting things in perspective

One day as I cut across the field which at that time extended on one side of our suburban shopping center, I found a giant slug feeding from a runnel of pink ice cream in an abandoned Dixie cup. I could see his eyes telescope and protrude in a kind of dim uncertain ecstasy as his dark body bunched and elongated in the curve of the cup… Then I came to a sign which informed me that this field was to be the site of a new Wanamaker suburban store. Thousands of obscure lives were about to perish, the spores of puffballs would go smoking off to new fields, and the bodies of little white-footed mice would be crunched under the inexorable wheels of the bulldozers. Life disappears or modifies its appearances so fast that everything takes on an aspect of illusion — a momentary fizzing and boiling with smoke rings, like pouring dissident chemicals into a retort. Here man was advancing, but in a few years his plaster and bricks would be disappearing once more into the insatiable maw of the clover. Being of an anthropological cast of mind, I thought of this fact with an obscure sense of satisfaction and waded back through the rose thickets to the concrete parking lot.

 
— Loren Eiseley, The Night Country

 
 

happiness studies: highlights in the history of human misery

Paradise was unendurable, otherwise the first man would have adapted to it; this world is no less so, since here we regret paradise or anticipate another one. What to do? where to go? Do nothing and go nowhere, easy enough. 
 
— E.M. Cioran, The Trouble with Being Born
 
 
Man, who is an organic continuation of the Logos, thinks he can sever that continuity and exist apart from it.
 
Heraclitus
 
 
Me miserable! which way shall I fly
Infinite wrath, and infinite despair?
Which way I fly is Hell; my self am Hell;
And in the lowest deep a lower deep
Still threatning to devour me opens wide,
To which the Hell I suffer seems a
Heav’n
.
O then at last relent: is there no place
Left for Repentance, none for Pardon left?
None left but by submission; and that word
Disdain forbids me, and my dread of shame…
 
Satan, in John Milton’s Paradise Lost
 
 
Conformity is one of the nihilistic temptations of rebellion which dominate a large part of our intellectual history. It demonstrates how the rebel who takes to action is tempted to succumb, if he forgets his origins, to the most absolute conformity. And so it explains the twentieth century. Lautréamont, who is usually hailed as the bard of pure rebellion, on the contrary proclaims the advent of the taste for intellectual servitude which flourishes in the contemporary world.

Albert Camus, Man in Revolt
 
 
Cut off from every root, unfit, moreover to mix with dust or mud, we have achieved the feat of breaking not only with the depth of things, but their very surface. 
 
— E.M. Cioran, Civilized Man 
 
 
Man is the great deserter of being.
E.M. Cioran, The Fall into Time
 
  

we are all patients in the cancer ward & now we’ve lost another person who could show us the way out

aleksandr solzhenitsyn, 1918 – 2008

I first heard of Solzhenitsyn’s death on the radio, sandwiched between stories on Britney Spears’ latest antics and the weekend box office of the latest Batman movie.

'Cancer Ward' - Alexander Solzhenitsyn by letslookupandsmile.

 

At least our facilities have proven to be much, 
much more comfortable than those afforded to 
Homo Sovieticus:
 

 

simenon americanized and—much, much worse—anglicized…

 Four Days in a Lifetime by Uh … Bob. 

Snow Was Black, The (Signet 855) 1952 AUTHOR: George Simenon ARTIST: Stanley Meltzoff by Hang Fire Books.
signet 1124 by 5m@5hYdez.

simenonsignet1376 by levar.

simenonsignet1338 by levar.

simenonacef198 by levar.  

Man Who Watched Trains, The (Berkley G-145) 1958 AUTHOR: Georges Simenon ARTIST: (unknown) by Hang Fire Books.
2316 by mjkghk.

'Maigret and the young girl-Danger ahead' - Georges Simenon by letslookupandsmile.

1853 by mjkghk.

pocket 55009 by 5m@5hYdez.  

2378 by mjkghk.

2245 by mjkghk.