Write About A Chance Event



This period's writing experiment is to introduce chance elements into our writing. One way to do this is:

1. Go to your library of books and choose the first one that catches your eye.

2. Open the book to any page that first appears, then quickly select a single sentence (or perhaps two).

3. Use the sentence(s) to begin your writing. Write a sentence that follows from the selected sentence, or simply let the selected sentence be a kind of theme or jumping-off point.

4. You may decide to remove the selected sentence from your piece once you have finished it.

5. Repeat the above three times (if you feel drawn), thus making a triptych



1. We should never write without feeling.

2. Unless we are much more interesting than we imagine we are, we should strive to feel not only about Self, but also about Other. Not the vacuum so often between Self and Other. Not the unworthiness of Other. Not the Other as a negation or eclipse of Self. Not even about the Other exclusive of Self, because that is but a trickster-egoist’s way of worshiping Self secretly. We must treat Self and Other as equal partners. (Of course I am suggesting nothing new. I do not mean to suggest anything new. Health is more important than novelty.)

3. We should portray important human problems.

4. We should seek for solutions to those problems. Whether or not we find them, the seeking will deepen the portrait

5. We should know our subject, treating it with the respect with which Self must treat Other. We should know it in all senses, until our eyes are bleary from seeing it, our ears ring from listening to it, our muscles ache from embracing it, our gonads are raw from making love to it. (If this sounds pompous, it is perhaps because I wear thick spectacles.)

6. We should believe that truth exists.

7. We should aim to benefit others in addition to ourselves.

--William Vollman


Another Day on the Wheel

Sun rose four hours ago. Coffee still hot. Cooked waffles for first time. Forgot all deep and meaningful dreams speaking from corners of eye. Sit on yellow and blue chair. Write on red table, red journal. Door to cafe opens and closes twice. Plastic spoon on table belongs to author. Thoughts of transcending all such mundane reality thus far mentioned. Coffee almost spilling from movements of pen. Solidity of pen. Inconsistency of penmanship. Particular tables by window occupied. Others empty always. Mild overwhelm of all possible ways of saying it. No discrimination between writing and meditation. Memories of driving through Lincoln Nebraska. Large deep grassed field beside river. Reading on the road. Walking down Boulder streets in mid-December. Why remember writing a question always. Waking up takes half the day. Until then who am I. Until then traffic outside like loud speakers. Sunlight like flashlights. Immediate pressure to write like thumbs pressing temples. I has safely died. Old journals read the grave was dug carefully. Only certain kinds of ghosts remain.

Ryan. J. Wilson


The Poetics of Space

from the chapter, Miniature

In two lines, this man with a magnifying glass expresses an important psychological law. He situates us at a sensitive point of objectivity, at the moment when we have to accept unnoticed detail, and dominate it. The magnifying glass in this experience conditions an entry into the world. Here the man with the magnifying glass is not an old man still trying to read his newspaper, in spite of eyes that are weary of looking. The man with the magnifying glass takes the world as though it were quite new to him. If he were to tell us of the discoveries he has made, he would furnish us with documents of pure phenomenology, in which discovery of the world, or entry into the world, would be more than just a worn-out word, more than a word that has become tarnished through over-frequent philosophical use. A philosopher often describes his “entry into the world,” his “being in the world,” using a familiar object as symbol. He will describe his ink-bottle phenomenologically, and a paltry thing becomes the janitor of the wide world.

The man with the magnifying glass—quite simply—bars the every-day world. He is a fresh eye before a new object. The botanist’s magnifying glass is youth recaptured. It gives him back the enlarging gaze of a child. With this glass in his hand, he returns to the garden,

oü les enjants regardent grandl
(where children see enlarged)

Thus the minuscule, a narrow gate, opens up an entire world. The details of a thing can be the sign of a new world which, like all worlds, contains the attributes of greatness.

Miniature is one of the refuges of greatness.



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