Category Archive for "Literature"

The Logic of Institution – In the Heart of the Sea

Institution serves as one of the central mechanisms of social life, and writers, self-selecting themselves to stand outside and to observe, feel this somewhat instinctively. Our institutions, economic or otherwise, frame all manner of interactions, and writers do well to…

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Making Money

Recently I was recommended the late Terry Pratchett’s Making Money, the 36th Diskworld novel. The story centers on the character of Moist Von Lipwig, the protagonist of Going Postal. Lipwig is a confidence trickster, thief, and ne’er-do-well whom we last left as…

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Heroes and their Discontents

The heroes’ journey is probably one the most well-known ideas in critical theory. A casual survey that I conducted among random strangers left me finding about one person in five to be familiar with the broad outlines of the thing. Our…

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It’s Just Semantics

No it isn’t. It’s never just semantics. All writing is about a meaning expressed; an intention delivered. Writing is an ultimatum, and a claim made on nature. Every piece of writing ever created asserts the shape of reality on the…

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Umberto Eco—The Celebration of Folly

Humanism is a living intellectual tradition in the west; one that many of our greatest luminaries have abandoned in frustration. It is a natural project—the kind of thing that serious scholars tend to fall into once they realize that most…

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Home is Where the Heart Is

Perspective is essential in art and life. As I sit here this morning, pondering the various offerings that my friends have left for me on social media, I came across a cute photoshop of a country house surrounded by trees….

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Considering the Reader

At the heart of any creative endeavor, there is always a question about the audience. It’s one that really plagues starting writers, who often carry around a lot of doubt—often so much that they forget to start writing. But questions…

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Cliche-Dar

Cliches get stuck to most people’s writing like butter on toast, or maybe like shit on a stick (an expression with surprising origins). I’ve heard the accusation time and again: editors, writers, and critics are all very quick to point…

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White Boy Shuffle – The Irony of Race

I recall my introduction to African-American literature as a child. A teacher asked my small-town classroom, full of eager young white children to memorize and report on a Langston Hughes poem. I chose “A Negro Speaks of Rivers.” The poem’s…

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America’s Orwellian Problem: Political Language and Democracy

Every undergrad in America today knows the term “Orwellian.” It’s pretty quickly inserted into the armory of would-be political scientists and armchair philosophers as a means of describing discourse that is designed to serve political ends and obfuscate truth. And…

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