Category Archives: Writing

Notes on Susan Sontag’s “On Style”

There’s always a distance between the work of art itself and the reality it represents. This distance is “inhuman,” says Susan Sontag: it’s artificial, belonging to the representation and not coming directly from lived reality. But Sontag wants us to … Continue reading

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Arthur Machen’s “Meditations of a Tavern”

In Arthur Machen’s The Hill of Dreams, Lucian Taylor is a struggling writer prone to daydreaming. He deliberately seeks out obscure books, to learn the most useless knowledge he can find. He is sick of modern society and its day-to-day … Continue reading

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Broken Life (Notes on Henry Miller’s Nexus)

Henry Miller is especially enjoying this conversation with Mona, who has just returned from Europe. It’s not just because he’s missed her so much; what he likes is that they are having his favourite kind of conversation: the “broken” and … Continue reading

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Kindred Spirits (Notes on Henry Miller’s Nexus)

Chapter 8 of Henry Miller’s Nexus is about the role that other people can play in the life of an artist, for better or worse. Life can seem lonely for an artist, without anyone in the world who understands you, … Continue reading

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Notes on Henry Miller’s Nexus: Burying the Past

In Europe, Henry will acquire “a new body and a new soul”. Then he can make use of his experiences: what he has taken from New York, and from all his life so far. We’ve seen throughout Nexus that Henry … Continue reading

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To Own an Inch of Earth

Neal Cassady wrote to Jack Kerouac that when writing “one should forget all rules, literary style, and other such pretensions.” And what he wrote next was really beautiful: “… Rather, I think, one should write, as nearly as possible, as … Continue reading

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Love and Understanding (Notes on Jack Kerouac’s The Town and the City)

To children and writers, a landscape presents mysteries to be contemplated rather than solved. Jack Kerouac opens his The Town and the City with a description of the course of the Merrimac River, its “broad and placid” flow “broken at … Continue reading

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