The Opium of the deaf community?

The other day I came across a clever title of a book by Raymond Aron: The Opium of the Intellectuals. It was a polemic directed at Marxism, and argued that it was the opiate of intellectuals. The reason it’s clever is because Karl Marx originally claimed that religion was the opiate of the masses.

I began to think in contemporary terms: what would pass as the opium of our times, as much religion did in mid-19th century, and Marxism for intellectuals in the 1930s & 40s? Ten years ago, my cousin Igor credited television as the ultimate drug of our consumer society. No doubt the Internet may have replaced it today.

Now, considering the subculture the deaf community, what would be our opiate – a drug that fails to fix our ailments but allows us to forget our sufferings? Continue reading The Opium of the deaf community?

On writing: own the process

Last Sunday, the writers’ club meeting started in identical fashion to the previous one: I arrived first, despite the best efforts of heavy rain and clusterfucked traffic, as well as being 30 miles away. I persuaded the hostess of Fred 62 that the rest of the party was “parking” so she sequestered me at a table in the back, serviced by a winsome waitress in racy stockings. After a few testy exchanges via iPhone, the rest of the gang arrived: Erik & then Bob bringing up the rear. We cut through the fat and through the breakfast dishes like nothing before we got to the meat of the meeting. Continue reading On writing: own the process

Deafness & writing

Every community has its myths, but one in particular struck me. In the deaf community, your writing competence is supposedly related to how English you sign or mouth your signs. If you sign in pure ASL, then your writing competence in English or any other textual language may not be up to snuff. Now, if you mouth your signs, enunciate your words a little too clearly, you seem to be introducing an unnecessary element to your signing, as if you’re embarrassed of signing without appealing to another language. Continue reading Deafness & writing

Fingersmiths “R” Us

Cast:

Bob – a short story author, published a novel

Erik – a screenplay writer


chez moi – a graphic novelist

Setting:
Fred 62 Diner in LA

Yesterday, at 2pm, I arrived at the diner mere moment before Erik did, despite the best efforts of the traffic gods and an unreliable GPS. We agreed to sit outside, and after we obtained refreshments, the conversation lurched immediately into a “whatcha done lately?” mode. Erik is a filmmaker who desires greater control over his craft, so he decided to break into script writing.

After taking turns in exchanging horror stories about grad school, and before we ran out of gas, Bob made his grand entrance. He’s a middle aged man with the wittiest sense of humor this side of George Carlin, or an American version of Lord Henry from the Picture of Dorian Gray. We spoke a bit about the goals of the club, what we expected from it, and what we hope to gain from each other, and so forth. Continue reading Fingersmiths “R” Us

Deafness & authentic writing

Last week I was reading an article on theNation.com about a new generation of writers from Mexico (Jorge Volpi, Ignacio Padilla & Eloy Urroz) in the mid nineties, and it hit very close to home. They called themselves the “crackeros” but what interested me the most was their resistance to writing “Mexican literature.”  Literary critics from America and Western Europe insisted that Mexicans writers must write about Mexican themes in order to be authentic. In other words, the crakeros‘ novels weren’t about Mexico, and therefore, the writers weren’t authentic. That implies that the “universal” is restricted to the Americans and Europeans. Commence severe eye-rolling. Continue reading Deafness & authentic writing

Manifesto of Writing

A colleague of mine asked me the following question regarding my ongoing graphic novel project:

I wonder, though, whether Nietzsche’s aphorisms, or particularly La Rochefoucauld’s, are the kind of stuff that you are making a use of for your graphic novel stories?

Pretty much. The Maxims was the result of a conversation game between La Rochefoucauld and Madam de Sable and Jacques Esprit played in their drawing rooms. They wrote down sentences expressing ideas of morality and psychology in solitude and then debated them afterwards. Unlike preachers, there are no appeals to a superior moral authority, for their judgments that studied human nature and custom were ambiguous and performed at the level of man. Instead of the ponderous treatise or the prose of Cicero, or academic language, they chose short forms ( maximes, sententia) that deigned to provoke rather than instruct. And La Rochefoucauld played this game the best by turning the myth of Narcissus upside down with a spectacular demolition of heroism. Continue reading Manifesto of Writing

Sometimes a spade is not a spade.

The World’s Oldest Metaphor, by Marcello Gori

Aren’t metaphors merely a colorful way of saying something literal, that is otherwise, a non-boring way of saying something boring? Merely the rhetorician’s weapon that subjects his/her audience into compliance? The dictionary of literary terms denote the metaphor as a figure of speech where something is described in the terms of another, or attribute something with a quality that is associated with something else. For instance, Walt Whitman’s metaphor for grass is “the beautiful uncut hair of graves.” The relation between the two terms in a metaphor is implicit, unlike a simile, where it is explicit. Continue reading Sometimes a spade is not a spade.