The library, and step on it!

Theses on Monsters by China Miéville

angryampersand:

from here.

1.
The history of all hitherto-existing societies is the history of monsters. Homo sapiens is a bringer-forth of monsters as reason’s dream. They are not pathologies but symptoms, diagnoses, glories, games, and terrors. 

2. 
To insist that an element of the impossible and fantastic is a sine qua non of monstrousness is not mere nerd hankering (though it is that too). Monsters must be creature forms and corpuscles of the unknowable, the bad numinous. A monster is somaticized sublime, delegate from a baleful pleroma. The telos of monstrous quiddity is godhead. 

3. 
There is a countervailing tendency in the monstrous corpus. It is evident in Pokémon’s injunction to “catch ’em all,” in the Monster Manual’s exhaustive taxonomies, in Hollywood’s fetishized “Monster Shot.” A thing so evasive of categories provokes—and surrenders to—ravenous desire for specificity, for an itemization of its impossible body, for a genealogy, for an illustration. The telos of monstrous quiddity is specimen. 

4. 
Ghosts are not monsters. 

5. 
It is pointed out, regularly and endlessly, that the word “monster” shares roots with “monstrum,” “monstrare,” “monere“—”that which teaches,” “to show,” “to warn.” This is true but no longer of any help at all, if it ever was. 

6. 
Epochs throw up the monsters they need. History can be written of monsters, and in them. We experience the conjunctions of certain werewolves and crisis-gnawed feudalism, of Cthulhu and rupturing modernity, of Frankenstein’s and Moreau’s made things and a variably troubled Enlightenment, of vampires and tediously everything, of zombies and mummies and aliens and golems/robots/clockwork constructs and their own anxieties. We pass also through the endless shifts of such monstrous germs and antigens into new wounds. All our moments are monstrous moments. 

7. 
Monsters demand decoding, but to be worthy of their own monstrosity, they avoid final capitulation to that demand. Monsters mean something, and/but they mean everything, and/but they are themselves and irreducible. They are too concretely fanged, toothed, scaled, fire-breathing, on the one hand, and too doorlike, polysemic, fecund, rebuking of closure, on the other, merely to signify, let alone to signify one thing. 

Any bugbear that can be completely parsed was never a monster, but some rubber-mask-wearing Scooby-Doo villain, a semiotic banality in fatuous disguise. It is a solution without a problem. 

8. 
Our sympathy for the monster is notorious. We weep for King Kong and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, no matter what they’ve done. We root for Lucifer and ache for Grendel. 

It is a trace of skepticism that the given order is a desideratum that lies behind our tears for its antagonists, our troubled empathy with the invader of Hrothgar’s hall. 

9. 
Such sympathy for the monster is a known factor, a small problem, a minor complication for those who, in drab reaction, deploy an accusation of monstrousness against designated social enemies. 

10. 
When those same powers who enmonster their scapegoats reach a tipping point, a critical mass, of political ire, they abruptly and with bullying swagger enmonster themselves. The shock troops of reaction embrace their own supposed monstrousness. (From this investment emerged, for example, the Nazi Werwolf program.) Such are by far more dreadful than any monster because, their own aggrandizements notwithstanding, they are not monsters. They are more banal and more evil. 

11. 
The saw that We Have Seen the Real Monsters and They Are Us is neither revelation, nor clever, nor interesting, nor true. It is a betrayal of the monstrous, and of humanity. 


teachingliteracy:

explore-blog:
Bohemians: A Graphic History – some of today’s most exciting comic artists tell the stories of some of history’s greatest creative mavericks, including Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, Josephine Baker, Henry Miller, Gertrude Stein, Thelonious Monk, and more.

teachingliteracy:

explore-blog:

Bohemians: A Graphic History – some of today’s most exciting comic artists tell the stories of some of history’s greatest creative mavericks, including Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, Josephine Baker, Henry Miller, Gertrude Stein, Thelonious Monk, and more.



explore-blog:

Teaser for Book Hive, an amazing interactive installation at Bristol’s Central Library from British art collective Rusty Squid – the best thing since this photographic love letter to public libraries.



millionsmillions:

"I used to feel that the novel output of Fitzgerald was like the literary version of the Myers Briggs test: whichever one a person favored was some fundamental indicator of his or her personality.  Roughly it followed that ordinary and banal people liked The Great Gatsby, snotty, effete types liked This Side of Paradise, and The Beautiful and Damned was for the discerning and unconventional (I’ll let you guess in which camp I numbered myself).  Tender is the Night was sort of an unknown quantity, preferred by dramatic people, maybe, or people who take pills.”
Modern Library Revue: #28 Tender is the Night by Lydia Kiesling

millionsmillions:

"I used to feel that the novel output of Fitzgerald was like the literary version of the Myers Briggs test: whichever one a person favored was some fundamental indicator of his or her personality.  Roughly it followed that ordinary and banal people liked The Great Gatsby, snotty, effete types liked This Side of Paradise, and The Beautiful and Damned was for the discerning and unconventional (I’ll let you guess in which camp I numbered myself).  Tender is the Night was sort of an unknown quantity, preferred by dramatic people, maybe, or people who take pills.”

Modern Library Revue: #28 Tender is the Night by Lydia Kiesling


"But to make ideas effective, we must be able to fire them off. We must put them into action. And the hornet in the sky rouses another hornet in the mind."
Virginia Woolf, from her essay Thoughts on Peace in an Air Raid” (via wavingtovirginia)

"Storytelling is a political act. It’s making sense of the world and ourselves, and like every other kind of sense-making, it’s as political as it is personal and vice-versa. There is no distinction to be made between the political and the personal. Writing of any kind is political. It’s claimsmaking regarding reality and how to interpret it. Because whenever we’re faced with these things, we’re faced with fundamental truths regarding how creation makes and unmakes the world, regarding whose voices are amplified and whose are lost, between who gets to speak and who is literally silenced."

"Dionysus was the god of the most blessed ecstasy and the most enraptured love. But he was also the persecuted god, the suffering and dying god, and all whom he loved, all who attended him, had to share his tragic fate."
— From “Dionysus: Myth and Cult,” by Walter F. Otto. (via dragonfiretwistedwire)