Round-up, 10 October 2012: honest responses, colourblind writing, Hilary Mantel, Camille Paglia, handwriting

Out of the mouths of babes … I really enjoyed reading this blog entry by Naropan and flash fiction journal editor Stacy Walsh: ‘My Kid Waxes Lyrical On ArtPrize’ (which is an open art prize in Michigan). Note the poetry of little Eli’s honest responses to shiny surfaces and ‘Song of Lift, a 5-minute long, fully automated, viewer sensitive opera’ of a kinetic sculpture slash quarter machine. This reminds me of the need to find that ‘level of enjoying what is in front of you in that moment’ (his mom’s wise words). This is painfully simple, but the best things often are, and it can be painful (or at least, less melodramatically, a challenge) to get there. Writers (adults) often have to relearn that honest response in order to discover the intuition that’s essential for good writing.

This story makes me think of that Ray Bradbury mantra: Don’t Think. And it also reminds me of one of the smartest things I ever heard anyone say at a Naropa Summer Writing Program: Edwin Torres’s statement that ‘Difficulty is not intelligence’. Why do we so often feel a need to complicate things, to intellectualise, to overinterpret texts or overegg our writing? Sometimes we just need to let things be, to be open to their experience and our experience of them.

Can literature be colour blind? The Independent discusses race and characters-who-just-happen-to-be. It invites us to consider the norms of our writing: what is normal there, and what might normal need to be? How might normal change?

A good profile of Hilary Mantel in the New Yorker on the US publication of Bring Up The Bodies. Have yet to read, but look forward to it. Wonder if it will win the Man Booker Prize?

I love reading anything by the brilliant Camille Paglia. Such energy in her writing. Here she is on Salon talking, among other things, about her new book on art, Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art From Egypt to Star Wars.

The New York Times reports on, a ‘genome project for the world of art’, which aims to create ‘new pathways for discovering art through 800+ characteristics (we call them “genes”)’. It’s compared with the ‘musical recommendation engines’ of Pandora and other digital playlists. An elegant website, too.

I am not sure if I find it that attractive, when I compare it with the elegance of Garamond or Baskerville, but the font OpenDyslexic, described here by the BBC, could make life easier for many people with dyslexia: apparently, its ‘characters have been given “heavy-weighted bottoms” to prevent them from flipping and swapping around in the minds of their readers’. It’s now available for Instaper, and might come to Amazon and other devices. So: big bottoms are useful.

When I describe myself as a lovely writer, I am talking about my handwriting. Here’s a lovely piece from Philip Hensher in the Observer on the publication of his new book The Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting. It includes a brief manifesto to restore handwriting ‘as something which is a pleasure, which is good for us, and which is human in ways not all communication systems manage to be’, as well as a sad, sweet tale on why handwriting is important. Ah! It justifies our stationery fetish, doesn’t it? Nothing really flows like ink.