Category Archives: Studio

A Clearing in the Mind

If I stand in the middle of a city and clear my mind of all conscious conditioning, all wandering thought and expectation, utterly wipe it clean, and I look about me without prejudice, I now see it as a creature that has just emerged into the light from a sewage pipe it entered miles away, in a swamp at the edge of town, where perhaps it was born, and where probably it is used to forage. I don’t see the … Read the excerpt

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Why We Need More Translation

A former collaborator contacted me this winter to resume some unfinished Arabic translation work we’d started years ago, and I’m happily back at the task, and back to thinking about how absolutely critical this kind of work is for American writers to engage in. The reasons are manifold and, I usually assume, quite apparent. However, if I’ve learned anything about human understanding, it’s that nothing is ever apparent to everyone, and (since there are always exceptions, at least when limits … Read the excerpt

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The Genius of Collaboration

If collaboration is executed in a fashion which renders the individual contributions indistinguishable, it is a radical confrontation of the conventional egocentrism of the western literary tradition, wherein the individual is considered the only legitimate source of genius. Not even in the most progressive western literary subcultures (such as L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry, for example) is collaboration seriously practiced. Even here, the myth of individual genius is perpetuated in the process of attempting to subvert it, probably because Nature, the perceived source … Read the excerpt

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Straight Queer

I learned, years after graduating from my rural, Midwestern high school, that my classmates had unofficially voted me most likely to shoot up the school. The messenger was a former class mate I’d bumped into (I can’t remember where), the guy I used sit in the library with during study hall, when everyone else was in the cafeteria. I knew that people thought I was a bit unusual, but this new information surprised me, enough, in fact, that I didn’t … Read the excerpt

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Your Language Is in Love with Your Mouth

Having been on the road a bit lately, giving readings from the recently released novel, I was planning to record a few observations here about reading in public, but my thoughts ended up somewhere far away. Nevertheless, I’ll try to retrace my steps.

For starters, here is what I consider the most important lesson I’ve learned from the many readings I’ve given: Reading is theater. This, for me, doesn’t imply that it’s supposed to be over-the-top or “dramatic,” but that … Read the excerpt

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The Ends of American Art

Every age dictates its needs to us. I feel this particular era, in America, is demanding we emerge from our self-imposed subcultures and talk to one another, or we’re going to dissolve back into something pre-USA, perhaps a loose confederacy again, if not autonomous city-states, or even tribes. I’m not saying this would necessarily be a bad thing, but I do nevertheless feel compelled, as an “American,” to initiate dialogue on the subject, lest we unwittingly have the rug pulled … Read the excerpt

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The Cultural Influences behind American Fables

During a conversation with my editor, when he was asking me why American Fables (the second novella in my triptych-novel Gnarly Wounds) was structured the way it is, it occurred to me that other people might also be interested in knowing the story behind the unconventional style of that book. The purpose for the aesthetics of the other two novellas in Gnarly Wounds seems fairly easy to intuit, but not so for American Fables, which, despite being relatively … Read the excerpt

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Form & Nothingness

Form is of utmost importance to me, to a metaphysical extent, for I believe it transcends even being itself. Nothingness bubbles into being through the agency of form, while form likewise penetrates into the abyss of its own origin. We are, the salt shaker is, the mountains of Mars are… the mystery of absolute nothing igniting into being within form.

We define experience by formulating it, thus differentiating the undifferentiated mass of sensations that flood over us. We categorize them … Read the excerpt

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The Unified Field (of Culture) Theory

A point of departure for a foray into the Unified Field of Culture Theory could be this: One cannot forsake a single aspect of a cultural system without at least subtly forsaking everything else within that system. In other words, no single element is entirely independent of the rest. In fact, there is no “single” element. To systematically banish something as seemingly innocuous as socks from your life will eventually call all of Western civilization into question, one blister at … Read the excerpt

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Words Incarnate

I believe we Westerners are commonly condemned by Cartesian dualism to confine ourselves to finite realms, but it need not be this way. To illustrate otherwise, I’ll expound on one physiological fact: words literally shape the neurons in our heads. The final form of a poem or story or treatise or whathaveyou is not simply ink on a page, but physical patterns in living minds, patterns which are likewise influenced by the conditions and contexts in which the words are … Read the excerpt

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