Machines and Modernists: A Few Stray Thoughts on Writing for One's Organic Self
We were talking about the difference between common sense and wisdom, and I ended with the not-so-radical and not-so-original thought that we have the right to use whatever words we want, but knowing when it’s right or wrong to do so is more akin to wisdom than to what people mean when they make appeals to common sense (whatever that may be).
Something I forgot to say, but has been said by many, is that freedom of speech or expression does not mean freedom from social consequences. Also, don’t yell fire in crowded places unless there is one. Don’t slander people. Don’t hurt people on purpose. All of that applies.
In other words, don’t be an insufferable jerk.
Gaps in the Record
I’m interested in the differences between what we say and how we’re heard. What we think we’re saying and what people think we mean. A former post on that here, because no one who says they don’t like Billy Joel is telling the truth, and Charles Baxter’s book is really good.
I said last time that I’d taken a break from writing and that I didn’t really feel like I missed it. Of course, writing all that out felt good, like I’d done something more or less creative. An hour later, after strength training and right in the middle of cardio, I started having doubts. What had I really accomplished? Slay on, inner critic.
A Thoroughly Modernist Dilemma
If AI doesn’t kill us, what will we do with ourselves? Assuming some kind of universal basic income program (I don’t see any way around that), we’ll have more time on our hands than Tommy Shaw.
Speaking of AI, I have a sinking feeling that the first AI-written story or poem to be unwittingly accepted by a lit mag has already been published. That really bums me out. We used to worry about books going away. Now we’ll have a Discourse on what even counts as writing. Inevitably, we’ll decide that anyone who has ever honed their craft by reading the work of others has employed another, slower version of machine learning, so, really, what’s the difference? Those stubbornly clinging to the idea that there is something different will be shouting at the sky. Eventually, a compromise: labels noting works of art as certified organic. Europe will lead the charge. Look at how they protect their champagne and cheese.
I don’t mean this as dour pessimism. But it’s something we’ll have to contend with. Writing as livelihood, already a precarious proposition, will evaporate completely. Hopefully, writing as a way to understand the Self will move into the fore. Modernism’s ultimate triumph.
Speaking of: did you know that HE DO THE POLICE IN DIFFERENT VOICES, a callback to Charles Dickens, was the working title of The Wasteland? Ezra Pound mercifully intervened.
A soccer club owned by Deadpool and the creator of Mythic Quest pulled off a Ted Lasso kind of season. I think that’s really something.
The MQ episode focused on CW in the 70s is TV near its best. If you’ve never been in a writing workshop, yes, that can be what it’s like. CW’s path to the Nebula Award? Machine learning, I suppose.
This from Ernest Hemingway:
“In going where you have to go, and doing what you have to do, and seeing what you have to see, you'll dull and blunt the instrument you write with. But I would rather have it bent and dull and know I had to put it to the grindstone again and hammer it into shape and put a whetstone to it, and know that I had something to write about, than to have it bright and shining and nothing to say, or smooth and well-oiled in the closet, but unused.”
If you have certified organic things you’d like to share, feel free to link in the comments.
What does the populist trope even mean? “She’s so smart, but she’s got no common sense.” It feels mostly like a reassurance for the person saying it, an ironic incantation signifying the gnosis of what, exactly? It’s a populist elitism, which is another way of saying it’s self-negating. Literally meaningless.
I’m only 43, but I can drop Styx reference like someone in their early 60s.
Because of course he did.