The essayist William Hazlitt wrote on essay on gusto. I ponder its practical applicability to the art of writing.
A few weeks ago, wandering London's Hampstead Heath for the first time, I watched Rachel record her impressions — not just the appearance of objects, like a camera, but her impressions, her looking itself — in a sketchbook, and I wished, not for the first time, that I, too, could lay claim to a sketchbook. … Continue reading A writer’s equivalent to the sketchbook
Once upon a time, I genuinely enjoyed rereading myself. Homeschooled, unexposed to any serious literature fresher than the nineteenth century, I harbored a prose-crush on Nathaniel Hawthorne. The same labored syntax could be found in my sentences, the same archaic diction, the same reliance on periodicity, apostrophe, and the indefinite pronoun. By contrast to my … Continue reading The Torture of Reading Yourself
Since I am not teaching this year, I had assumed the large-scale questions about philosophy’s nature and significance, the ones that obsessed me as the lecturer in an undergraduate intro class, would subside (for me) for a while. Instead, my organism misses the act of lecturing. And, yes, the act of worrying about philosophy. I’m … Continue reading On Philosophy: What Is It?
Mario Vargas Llosa identifies literary language with living language, unliterary language with dead language. I agree, and try to explain what this means and why it's so important.