E.V. de Cleyre writes for Ploughshares about sentimentality. As she puts it, “It is not enough to have a feeling and express it—we must exercise discernment, ask what these feelings we’re feeling are, dissect them, and find the language that matches how they look, feel, smell, and taste.” Pair with this Millions essay on literary sentiment.
“Writing gives me great feelings of pleasure. There’s a marvelous sense of mastery that comes with writing a sentence that sounds exactly as you want it to. It’s like trying to write a song, making tiny tweaks, reading it out loud, shifting things to make it sound a certain way. It’s very physical. I get antsy. I jiggle my feet a lot, get up a lot, tap my fingers on the keyboard, check my e-mail. Sometimes it feels like digging out of a hole, but sometimes it feels like flying. When it’s working and the rhythm’s there, it does feel like magic to me.” Susan Orlean on why she writes.
“I feel very transparent to myself. I’m more like an observer. I’m interested in what’s going on. I’m not sure that I really have a personality,” Joyce Carol Oates said in The New Yorker’s micro documentary about her writing life and routine. Pair with: our essay on Oates’ The Accursed.
“Can we ever pinpoint a person’s true identity? … How can we point to something in the world with complete accuracy, without also being meaninglessly redundant? Harpo’s answer to ‘who are you?’ is a visual-gag version of the Buddha’s infuriatingly honest answer to the same question. When asked who he was, he would say, gesturing to himself: I am thathagatha (the one who is like this).” On Groucho Marx, nihilism, and the destruction of comedy over at Slate.