Ramblings & ephemera

Umberto Eco on books

From Umberto Eco’s “Vegetal and mineral memory: The future of books” (Al-Ahram Weekly: 20—26 November 2003): Libraries, over the centuries, have been the most important way of keeping our collective wisdom. They were and still are a sort of universal brain where we can retrieve what we have forgotten and what we still do not […]

Kurt Vonnegut on the conventions found in plots

From David Hayman, David Michaelis, George Plimpton, & Richard Rhodes’s interview of Kurt Vonnegut in “The Art of Fiction No. 64” (The Paris Review: Spring 1977, No. 69): INTERVIEWER Let’s talk about the women in your books. VONNEGUT There aren’t any. No real women, no love. INTERVIEWER Is this worth expounding upon? VONNEGUT It’s a […]

James Ellroy on how he writes

From Nathaniel Rich’s “Interviews: James Ellroy, The Art of Fiction No. 201” (The Paris Review: Fall 2009): I begin by sitting in the dark. I used to sleep on the living-room couch. There was a while when that was the only place I felt safe. My couch is long because I’m tall, and it needs […]

Why cons work on us

From Damien Carrick’s interview with Nicholas Johnson, “The psychology of conmen” (The Law Report: 30 September 2008): Nicholas Johnson: I think what I love most about con artists and the world of scammers is that they’re criminals who manage to get their victims to hand over their possessions freely. Most thieves and robbers and the […]

Ridiculous trademark and fair use stories

From Mark Sableman’s “Copyright reformers pose tough questions” (St. Louis Journalism Review: June 2005): Kembrew McLeod of the University of Iowa explained how as a graduate student he applied for a federal trademark registration on the phrase “freedom of expression” as a joke, not really expecting that even a green-eye-shaded trademark examiner would approve it. […]

Blogs as patio space

From Jim Hanas’ “The Story Doesn’t Care: An Interview with Sean Stewart“: I grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, during the winter. There are two very essential conditions in Edmonton. There’s inside and outside, and there’s no real doubt about which is which. There’s a sharp line preserved between the two. I now live in California. […]

New communication, new art forms

From Jim Hanas’ “The Story Doesn’t Care: An Interview with Sean Stewart“: I think that every means of communication carries within itself the potential for a form of art. Once the printing press was built, novels were going to happen. It took the novel a little while to figure out exactly what it was going […]