𝐹𝑜𝓊𝓃𝒹 The Whole Damn #amwriting Thing

Writing is one thing, reading is another, but the Literary Twitter is something else. At best it’s an improvised, collective, ever-updating fount of news, knowledge, and wit. At worst, it’s a column of ice chipped at by the axes of cutely compressed links to the world’s ever-expanding online literary content; endless self-promotion and sycophantic promotion of others; quipped opinion regarding live televised events (cable TV dramas, disasters du jour); public conversations better served by texts unread by thousands of strangers; declamations upon the craft of writing and everything else (as though there were anything else, ha ha ha); lesser-known writers retweeting better-known writers hoping to gain better-known writers’ favor; middling writers retweeting publicity staff hyping middling reviews in middling publications of middling novels; writers offering mash-up puns of canonical novel titles; writers tweeting daily pics of their word count function on their latest novel manuscripts; the whole damn #amwriting thing; pretentious young writers pitching surreal/absurdist novels or films or products or outerspace expeditions; famous novelists tweeting insights ripped from novels published long ago that no one reads anymore; writers with their Goodreads accounts synched with their Twitter so everyone can see they’ve given five stars to some non-fiction anthology published by their friends; writers who’ve tweeted nearly 50K times proclaiming their gratitude for writing and reading on the day of a domestic terrorist event; writers playing nice in the character-restricted sandbox but rarely letting loose and saying exactly what they think, that is unless their handle is @breteastonellis.

— Lee Klein, from “Leeching the Seething in One Long Paragraph: @ThomasBernhard and the Comedy of Contempt”

2018

𝐹𝑜𝓊𝓃𝒹 أن تكون لك في ذهنك زهور

وجدتني سميرة أسعل سعالاً حاداً حتى أنني اضطررت أن أغيب عنها عدة مرات في المطبخ لكي أتناول ملاعق من العسل الخالص وأقراصاً مهدئة.
العام مازال شاباً، لكنه مشؤوم بالنسبة لي. لقد حدثت لي فيه أشياء جد مزعجة حتى أنني فكرت في الانتحار عدة مرات في الأسبوع الماضي. إنني أكتب لك رسالتي وأنا آكل الجزر غير مطبوخ مغموساً في عسل دافئ على بخار الماء وفي الحاكي السنفونية الخامسة لبيتهوفن وسجائر (ميني كازا) وأشرب Les vieux papes.
أنت ترى إنه مزيج يهدئ من حدة التوتر. المهم هو أن تكون لك في ذهنك زهور حتى لو لم تكن تعرف أسماءها. هذا هو معنى قولك في رسالتك “أشياء كثيرة أكتبها بالخيال…”
في روايتي “السوق الداخلي” عندي جملة أقول فيها: “في ذهني زهور بلا أسماء وأسماء بدون زهور…” إنني أعي جيداً ما تشجعني عليه في رسالتك، غير أن هناك فرقاً بين أن تعي وأن تطبق ما تعيه.
الابتذال: إنها كلمة أفظع من سعالي!
في الأسبوع الأول من الشهر الماضي، ذهبت إلى تطوان لزيارة أسرتي. كانت أمي مريضة تبصق دماً وأبي يعاني من الربو… لقد كدت أبصق على وجه أبي عندما سمعته يقول لها عني “إنه يلبس معطف المخنثين” (يقصد ميني معطف)، وله لحية شيطان وشعر “هداوة”. أنت قد تقول لي بأنها أشياء بسيطة غير ذات أهمية يقولها أب عن ابنه، لكنها سفالة.
— من إحدى رسائل محمد شكري إلى محمد برادة

1977 (2006)

𝐹𝑜𝓊𝓃𝒹 On Literary Glory

Of course, if you live in a big city, they will also be wanting to know and ad­mire all the impostors who have won the same celebrity with quite mediocre works extravagantly overpraised. So you may not be impressed by the company you’re keeping. And if you live out in the provinces, people will very likely have no notion of literary glory at all. Writing? I could have done that perfectly well myself, if I’d had time, if I’d wanted to turn my mind to it. You’ll get a lot of this. Only a handful of people will really appreciate what you’ve done, so that, in general, it’s hard to think of a commodity that comes at a higher price and brings fewer benefits than literary glory.

In response, you’ll withdraw into solitude. You’ll try to believe that the work itself is sufficient reward for your efforts. It isn’t. Then, since we all have to have something to hope for in the future, you’ll start to seek consolation in the notion that posterity will finally give you the true recognition you deserve. I’ll live on in the minds of genera­tions to come, you tell yourself. But honestly, there’s no guarantee of this. Why should those who come after us be any better, or any more receptive and perceptive, than our contemporaries? On the contrary, the world will most likely have moved on and people won’t have any time for you at all.

— from Giuseppe Parini’s advice to a young writer by Giacomo Leopardi

1824

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