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One of the more interesting recent developments in film studies is the recognition that what has seemed to be separate histories — documentary filmmaking and avant-garde filmmaking — are, once again, converging. I say “once again” because the interplay between documentary and avant-garde film has long been more significant than seems generally understood.
An intersection of an avant-garde artistic practice and a documentary impulse helped to instigate the dawn of cinema itself. When Eadweard Muybridge and Etienne-Jules Marey were discovering and exploring the possibilities of photographic motion study, they were the photographic avant-garde of that moment. And their subject was the documentation of the motion of animals, birds, and human beings, presumably so that we could know, more fully, the truth about this motion. And at the moment when W. K. L. Dickson perfected the Kinetograph and Kinetoscope and the Lumière Brothers perfected the Cinématographe and the projected motion picture, they in turn became the photographic avant-garde; and their primary fascination, too, was the documentation of motion, specifically human activity, first, in the world around them and soon, in the case of the Lumières, across the globe.
Flaherty’s Nanook (1922) was both a breakthrough documentary and an avant-garde experiment in collaborative filmmaking; and the City Symphonies that emerged in the 1920s (Berlin: Symphony of a Big City, 1926, e.g., and The Man with a Movie Camera, 1929) were documentary interpretations of reality and avant-garde experiments.
During the 1940s, the most important development for independent cinema in the United States was the emergence of a full-fledged film society movement. The leading contributor was Cinema 16, founded by Amos and Marcia Vogel in New York City in 1947. At its height, Cinema 16 had 7,000 members, and filled a 1,500-seat auditorium twice a night for monthly screenings. Cinema 16’s programming was an inventive mixture of documentary and avant-garde film.
The development of light-weight cameras and tape recorders, more flexible microphones, and faster film stocks during the late 1950s created additional options that in one sense, drove documentary filmmaking and avant-garde filmmaking apart, but in another sense, created a different kind of intersection between them. Sync-sound shooting expanded the options available to filmmakers committed to documentary, instigating forms of cinematic entertainment that functioned as critiques of Hollywood filmmaking and early television. Drew Associates, D. A. Pennebaker, Frederick Wiseman, and the Maysles Brothers fashioned engaging melodrama out of real life in Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment (1963), Don’t Look Back (1967), Hospital (1968), and Salesman (1968).
During the same decade, avant-garde filmmakers were producing very different forms of documentary, often by abjuring sound altogether. Stan Brakhage was committed to the idea of cinema as a visual art, and created remarkable—silent—confrontations of visual taboo such as Window Water Baby Moving (1959) and The Act of Seeing with One’s Own Eyes (1972)—now recognized as canonical documentaries. These films could hardly have been more different from the cinema verite films, but we can now see that Brakhage shared the mission of the cinema verite documentarians: the cinematic confrontation of convention-bound commercial media.
In 1955, Francis Flaherty, Robert Flaherty’s widow, established a symposium to honor her husband’s filmmaking oeuvre and to promote his commitment to filmmaking “without preconceptions.” In recent decades “the Flaherty,” as the symposium has come to be called, has attracted dozens of filmmakers, programmers, teachers, students, and other cine-aficionados for week-long immersions in programs of screenings and discussions. Modern Flaherty seminars have often been driven by an implicit debate about what the correct balance between documentary and avant-garde film should be at the seminar.
Since the 1940s, avant-garde filmmakers have found ways of exploring the personal, first by psycho-dramatizing their inner disturbances (Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon and Kenneth Anger’s Fireworks are landmark instances), and later by filming the particulars of their personal lives. Brakhage documented dimensions of his personal life in many films, as did Carolee Schneemann, in Fuses (1967), and Jonas Mekas, in Walden (1969) and Lost Lost Lost (1976). And during the 1980s, avant-garde filmmakers Su Friedrich (in The Ties that Bind, 1984; and Sink or Swim, 1990) and Alan Berliner (in Intimate Stranger, 1991; and Nobody’s Business, 1996), used experimental techniques learned from other avant-garde filmmakers to directly engage their family histories.
What has come to be called “personal documentary” (basically, the use of sync-sound to explore personal issues) was instigated in the early 1970s by Ed Pincus’s Diaries (filmed from 1971-1976; completed in 1981), Miriam Weinstein’s Living with Peter (1973), Amalie Rothschild’s Nana, Mom and Me (1974), Alfred Guzzetti’s Family Portrait Sittings (1975). By the 1980s, several of Pincus’s students at MIT were contributing to this approach, among them Ross McElwee, whose films, including Sherman’s March (1986), Time Indefinite (1994), and Photographic Memory (2011) are an on-going personal saga.
Globalization and the standardization of so many dimensions of modern life, along with threats to the environment, have created a desire on the part of many filmmakers to pay a deeper attention to the particulars of Place. Since the early 1970s, contemplations of Place have been produced by avant-garde filmmakers Larry Gottheim (Fog Line, 1970; Horizons, 1973), Nathaniel Dorsky (Hours for Jerome, 1982), James Benning (13 Lakes, 2004), Peter Hutton (Landscape (for Manon), 1987; At Sea, 2007), Sharon Lockhart (Double Tide, 2009) and many others. A fascination with Place, or more precisely, people-in-place, also characterizes the documentaries coming out of Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab (SEL), including Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor’s Sweetgrass (2009), Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel’s Leviathan (2013), and Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez’s Manakamana (2014). Indeed, the films of Hutton, Benning, and Lockhart, in particular, have been shown regularly at the SEL.
The interviewees in Avant-Doc reveal a wide range of ways in which their own work and the work of colleagues function creatively within the liminal zone between documentary and avant-garde and the ways in which the intersections between these histories have played into their work.
Headline image credit: Camera. Public domain via Pixabay.
For today’s prompt, write an alone poem. Some people covet “alone time.” Others prefer not to be left alone. Many like a certain balance. But this doesn’t have to just be about people. Maybe a forest wishes to be left alone, or there is a product left alone on a store shelf (how the children’s story “Corduroy” begins).
2015 Poet’s Market
Get your poetry published!
Learn how to get your poetry published with the premiere book on publishing your poetry: the 2015 Poet’s Market, edited by Robert Lee Brewer.
This essential resource includes hundreds of listings for book publishers, magazines, journals, contests, grants, and so much more. Plus, there are articles on the craft of poetry, business of poetry, and promotion of poetry. Beyond that, there’s an hour-long webinar, a subscription to the poetry slice of WritersMarket.com, original poems, poet interviews, resources galore, and more-more-more!!!
as long as I have my internet connection
& smart phone I have this feeling that I can’t
possibly be alone. I consider going into hiding
until I remember my faith & the fact that even
before the internet I was never alone & ditching
all my gadgets & connections won’t change that.
Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.
He has moments when he feels alone–like anyone–but then he usually comes to his senses. He’s thankful for the community of poets here that help lift each other up throughout the month and year.
When it comes to teaching writing, we are bound by a painful, formulaic Five Step Process: Prewriting, Drafting, Revising, and Publishing. Does it work? If you teach the writing process, it is crucial for you to experience it at the very same moment you are actually teaching it. Model the behavior. But this isn't a preachy blog post. It's more of an observational type of post because I've had too much coffee and it's 3 A.M. Anyway, back to the question: Does the five step writing process work? To answer this, I must put away my Teacher Hat and put on my lovely, leopard print fedora Writer Hat. When it comes to teaching writing, we are bound by a painful, formulaic Five Step Process: P
Does the formulaic Five Step Process Work? As a writer, I'll answer this a different way: I’ve experienced a difference in the state of mind I have to assume in two types of writing: creative and commercial writing. In literary writing, whether in my poetry, children’s books, or novels, my state of mind is much like experiencing deep house music. Known for its complexities in melodic tunes and use of unrelated chromatic chords underlying most sequences, deep house music is also trance-like and hypnotic. The rhythm of writing feels a lot like a deep house song. Building up layers of rhythm which fades out quickly, then leaving the melody to stand alone for a few seconds only to build up as quickly as it faded. It’s a rush! That’s what that writing process feels like when I'm in my most creative mood.
The images, the metaphors, the rhyme, and the diction are always brought into life from the spontaneous flow of the sentences. No matter how much I plan them ahead, I realize that when it happens, it happens because of that momentar experience. Or it just doesn’t happen. This doesn’t mean I sit and wait for that moment. It just means I have very little control of it, and that there are days when I can work for hours and churn out thousands of words in one day, or work for a mere ten minutes to churn out a weak one hundred words. Many times, I cringe at what I’ve written and delete as much as I can. Voice is important to this process. I have to recognize and feel that voice before I can even begin to turn on my computer. Otherwise, nothing will
The images, metaphors and insights are always born out of the spontaneous flow of the sentences: I can never plan them ahead, or put them in later when I realize that’s where I need an insight. It either happens in the moment or it doesn’t happen at all. That is not to say that I just sit and wait for it to happen. Not! What it means is that I don’t have as much control over a good or a bad day, and that often I’ll work for hours and have to trash most of what I wrote. Also voice is crucial to the process. I have to hear that voice before I can do anything with it, or nothing worth my time will come out. And that’s also tricky, because the voice in my head may change depending on the mood I’m in, what I’ve been reading, and how close I feel to the work in any given moment.
But when I write what I would call a mainstream or commercial piece it’s different. I have to be much more analytical. There’s a lot of planning going on, trying to project the whole thing from beginning to end. It’s much less about the poetry of it, and much more about the story and the moment to moment action of it. I want to clarify: even if I’m writing commercial (whatever that means) I work very hard at making the characters emotionally complex and the narrative intellectually stimulating, but it’s the way that it’s accomplished that’s different. It’s harder in a way, but also easier, because no matter how hard my writing day goes, usually by the end of the day there’s plenty of my work that will be usable at some point. Not so for literary, where it seems more like a good day/bad day either/or proposition with not a whole lot I can do about it.
Ultimately, though, with slight variances, I think the process is what it is: you work hard at it, over and over, and then at some point, if you’re lucky, something will come through. There is a part of it that’s numinous and mysterious, but that is not something I can explain. Everyone who works creatively would know what I’m talking about, I think, because it just comes. If you work at it long enough, it comes.
Okay, here are some things that make November 23 special(and if you're in the Northern hemisphere you will be reading this on November 22. Too bad! I'm lying in bed on Sunday morning posting this to the world)
534 BCE Thespis of Icaria becomes the word's first actor to portray a character other than himself. In other words, the world's first actor! He did some other things to get plays going. His very name is used as a term for an actor, "thespian". And it all began On This Day! If interested, check out this blog post about the origins of Showbiz!
1644 The poet John Milton publishes Aeropagitica, a pamphlet against censorship, due to a recent "licensing" system produced by Parliament - not that he had anything against book-burning of "bad" books, he was a terribly grumpy man, but he says at least publish the things first, then argue against them(and you can always burn them afterwards). Hmm, sounds familiar. Like certain Aussie politicians who recently argued about "freedom of speech" for horrible people because we can always argue with them... Still. He wrote lots of fabulous poetry, crotchety man or not.
A quote from this: "A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life" is up in the New York Public Library.
1963 The first episode of Dr Who, "An Unearthly Child" is broadcast. Unfortunately it had to compete with the news of President Kennedy's assassination, but after fifty years it's still going strong. And in the last season, we returned to Coal Hill School, where the latest companion was working as a teacher. Yes, Coal Hill was also in Remembrance Of The Daleks, but it was only one story and it was set just after the first Doctor and his companions had left.
1892 Erte, that amazing illustrator and designer who did all those wonderful Art Deco pictures. Kerry Greenwood's heroine Phryne Fisher wears his designer clothes. He also did stuff for Hollywood silent movies, including Ben-Hur.
1909 Nigel Tranter, author of a whole lot of historical fiction, mostly about Scotland. I've read some of his books, which are good stuff.
1923 Gloria Whelan, a prolific US author of children's and YA novels. I'm embarrassed to say I haven't read any of her 50-odd books as yet, but I thought anyone with that much of a track record deserves a mention here.
Holidays and observances
* This is the feast day of Alexander Nevsky, the Russian hero who has been made a saint in the Russian Orthodox Church and inspired a lot of film and music stuff.
* It's Rudolph Maister Day in Slovenia. He was a military officer who also wrote poetry.
* On a truly frivolous note, it's the earliest day on which Black Friday can happen - strictly a US thing, coming just after Thanksgiving and the opening of Christmas shopping. Amazing they leave it that long!
I got all these from Wikipedia, a very useful source for such stuff. All images are Creative Commons.
Toronto Maple Leaf fans (that's Toronto Canadia, our non-US neighbors to the north) finish singing the AMERICAN national anthem when the mic kicks out. So, how many of us could even START the Canadian national anthem? (Let alone finish, on time, and largely on key?) Way to go Leafs fans!
I haz discovered a new favorite fruit. They are called Asian pears, apple pears (or maybe it's pear apples...) Japanese pears, Chinese pears and a plethora of things in between, but I call them Prapples. They are a combo of the best part of the two fruits. They are crispy like apples, but have the taste of pear.
They are AMAZING in salad, with some fab apple cider vinegar! True story!! (The gif below does NOT reveal my true feelings about prapples - I simply found it while browsing da Google, cracked up, and felt compelled to share it with all you all. Prapples are GOOD! :-)
First, there's Sergeant Greg Parker. He's the "Boss" and the team's lead negotiator. During a situation he's the one to make contact and try to "talk" the subject down so they can resolve the situation peacefully and non-lethally.
Then there's Ed Lane. He's the team leader, tactical operator and a crack sniper. He is often the person in charge of taking down the subject if the situation escalates and there is no other option other than lethal.
Michelangelo "Spike" Scarlatti is demolitions and tactical. He is often to be found in the van doing fabulous things with a computer, figuring out info on both subjects and victims for the Team to use to de-escalate a subject.
Lewis "Lou" Young is the less lethal weapons specialist on Team One, often backing up Spike when it comes to bombs and research.
This show is crazy, because not only is it a GREAT show, but all the team members are like a family. They have each others' backs all the time, and their one goal is to "keep the peace." It also does backstory on the members, so you grow fonder and fonder of them as the seasons go. I tend to shed a lot of tears at the end of each episode. They do a great job of finishing up the story and having this song playing in the background that totally depicts the whole episode perfectly.
At the moment I've just started Season Four, and I have a TERRIBLE feeling about one of my favourite members on the team. I'm not going to say anything, in case I end up being right, and if I am I'll probably cry even harder. :-)
Okay, my life is boring. I'll leave you and love you and post again sometime in December. Probably just in time for Christmas.
Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Advent, Happy St. Nicholas Day in case I don't pop on long enough to commemorate those holidays with their own special posts.
I always look forward to new picture book releases from Kentucky novelist and poet, George Ella Lyon. I reviewed her newest picture book, What Forest Knows (Atheneum, November 2014), illustrated by August Hall, for BookPage. That link is here, if you’d like to read more about it. And today I’m sharing some spreads from it.
While we’re on the subject of Lyon, I’m also currently reading this wonderful book, which she wrote with J. Patrick Lewis and which was released by WordSong last month:
There’s more about the book here, including several starred reviews, and here’s an interview with Lyon at Sylvia Vardell’s site.
Here are two more spreads from What Forest Knows:
“Then forest knows snow. While Earth travels round the sun Forest knows each season, each creature, needs the others.” (Click to enlarge spread)
“Sniff. Forest knows everything belongs.” (Click to enlarge spread)
Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.
* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *
1) Naomi Shihab Nye. One of my favorite writers, and this interview from this week is wonderful. Also, I’m excited to start her new book, which I just got.
I’ve spent a lot more time than usual poring over and considering children’s books of late. That’s in part because friends are starting to have babies and I am a giver of books as presents for any and all occasions that require (even if that makes me the un-fun ‘auntie’ in these early years). I’ve […]
Award-winning Australian author, Archimede Fusillo delves deep into what it is to be a man in his latest coming-of-age novel for young adults, Dead Dog In The Still Of The Night. The story follows the journey of Primo as he attempts to navigate his way though his final year of school with an emotionally brittle […]
I spent the afternoon exploring ideas for a deer themed illustration/painting for my husband and I's joint fine art venture (Slumberland Studio). We will attempt to collaborate in the art-making process, but first we need ideas! We each have to come up with three composition ideas to show each other and then we'll settle on one to develop further and bring to finish---with actual paint---imagine that! I only got through one of my 3 ideas today. More to come!
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Welcome to the 2015 Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America Best First Novel Competition!
Please read all of the rules and guidelines before submitting your entry. You can find the complete rules and guidelines at us.macmillan.com/minotaurbooks/writing-competitions.
To enter, you must complete this form and upload an electronic file of your Manuscript.
Only electronic submissions, uploaded through this entry form, will be considered; do not mail or e-mail
manuscript submissions to Minotaur Books.
Before uploading, please ensure that your Manuscript is formatted as follows:
1) The Manuscript must be either a Microsoft Word document or a PDF
2) Text must be double spaced
3) Pages must be numbered consecutively from beginning to end
4) The Manuscript must be saved as “Manuscript Title_Entrant Name”
Because of the great volume of submissions we receive and the fact that judges are volunteers with full-time responsibilities elsewhere, it is important that you submit your Manuscript as early as possible. Submissions will get a more careful reading if the judge does not have to contend with a flood of last-minute entries.
To be considered for the 2015 competition, all submissions must be received by 11:59pm on December 15,
November is Diabetes Awareness Month and for today’s La Bloga posting, I’m so happy to introduce you to Diabetes Activist, Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez.Christina is a Chicago native, and is active with the Diabetes Online Community, has her own blog at kikisbetes.com, and is on twitter:@kikisbetes.Look her up!
Before we get started, I’m adding a few introductory facts regarding diabetes.
Second, technology:The glucose meter is essential for individuals with any of these four types of diabetes, because it measures blood glucose levels.With the meter, individuals know exactly what is happening in their body. Guessing glucose levels simply by how one feels can be dangerous, because assuming your glucose number is in no way accurate.
Testing reveals how much glucose is present in your blood at that moment. The components of the meter are: (1) the meter, (2) glucose strips, (3) lancet.To test, you take a glucose strip and insert it into the meter.Then, you pierce one finger with a lancet, placing the drop of blood on the glucose strip. In a few seconds, the glucose number will appear on the meter. There are also continuous glucose monitoring systems and pumps.
Third, what the meter says:A normal blood sugar level is considered less that 100 mg/dL when fasting (morning numbers) and less than 140 mg/dL two hours after eating your first bite of a meal.Christina was diagnosed with diabetes Type I when she was 7 years old.During her lifetime, she has been a passionate seeker of knowledge, wanting to understand her body in order to assist what is not working.I found her on twitter and have been continually inspired by her passion, her commitment to understanding diabetes, and, in turn, assisting others in diabetes education.She is a truth seeker!I had the opportunity to speak with Christina recently and want to share with you our conversation:
Amelia M.L. Montes:Thank you so much, Christina, for taking the time to talk with me about a chronic disease that greatly affects the Latina/Latino communities.First, tell me about your tattoo.
Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez:It’s a blue circle to represent diabetes.I took the Chicago flag and instead of two blue lines, I made it into one circle and then added the Chicago stars, the four stars across the middle of that circle.I feel the empowerment with this tattoo.People see the tattoo and say, “That’s cool, is that Chicago?”I say, “Yes, BUT, it’s also representative of diabetes awareness” and then this gives me the opportunity to talk about diabetes with them.
Amelia M.L. Montes: And you mentioned that you also wear a pump.
Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez: People see the pump and ask me if it’s a pager or ask if I’m a doctor. And I think of responding with crazy answers, but then I think, where will that get me? So I explain what it is, and what it means to me.
Amelia M.L. Montes:So, in what creative ways do you educate people so they will remember details (because diabetes demands learning so much information)?For example, how do you educate people about the differences between Type I and Type II Diabetes?
Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez:I call Type II a “Disorder,” and Type I a “Disease.”I call Type II a “Disorder” because your body has a malfunction, whereas with Type I, diabetes is an autoimmune disease.
Amelia M.L. Montes: You’ve had diabetes (Type I) since childhood. Does the disease limit you in any way?
Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez:I don’t want to let chronic illness limit me from doing anything, but there are days when I can’t physically do something due to exhaustion, hyperglycemia, or hypoglycemia, and it can weigh on me as a psychological issue.There are many studies that connect Type II diabetes to depression, but this doesn’t mean people with Type I don’t have depression.
Amelia M.L. Montes:Agreed.It’s definitely false to think that depression only manifests itself in individuals with Type II.Also, some people feel that Diabetes Type I and Diabetes Type II are two very different diseases.In some of your articles, you have said there are similarities.Where are the connections?
Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez:The cause—the causes are all different but the reasons they’re all called diabetes are because the symptoms and the ultimate effects are the same.With Type I, I feel all the symptoms twice as fast as those with Type II.With Type II, their blood sugars are elevated for so long, that they don’t know how normal feels.With Type I, my moods and symptoms change multiple times [a day] and are so different every day.
I remember the first time I was on a twitter chat and we were asked how we feel when we do everything right, and then you check your blood sugar, and it’s still high.I saw answers like:“I want to throw it [the glucose meter] out the window,” and “I get angry, and then my blood sugar goes higher.” Just reading that helped me feel I was not alone.
Checking your blood sugar. Placing a drop of blood on the glucose strip that has been inserted into the meter.
Amelia M.L. Montes:I get that—reading diabetes online community comments and feeling less isolated.You’ve made sure to reach out, educate yourself, be involved with diabetes communities.How can readers who have diabetes break through the stigma, the shame connected to this disease, which sometimes makes them hide?How can we talk to each other?
Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez:You have to talk about it, and let them know just what they’re doing to their bodies if they don’t take care of themselves.I always said that if we taught Latino families together [those with and without diabetes] about the treatment of diabetes, the person that actually developed it would be better off.It really takes a village to cure individuals.If you get everyone to understand, make healthier choices, and even change their lifestyle, the entire family (or community) will be better off.
Amelia M.L. Montes: How do we do this with our various communities.Also--do you belong to other communities and how do you navigate diabetes in all of these communities?
Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez: Sometimes I feel I’m in three different communities. The first community is the general every day. I go to work, and I mingle with people who are not Latino and don’t have diabetes. Total market experience. You don’t care what color anyone is—you are just “being.” The second community is the Latino community who has less resources. I am very tied to that culture, from the art I have in my house, to the way that I say my name. The third community is the Diabetes community. Not only am I usually the only Latina with diabetes, but I also have Type I which is not as common as Type II among the Latino community. And then I say, how are we going to get these different communities together? What are we going to do to upkeep your health? Diabetes isn’t racist, sexist, gender neutral. When you have diabetes, you can get comments like, “pero no estas gorda” [“but you’re not fat”]. And there is where diabetes education is most needed. So I try to speak from a general diabetes perspective. I may not know what medication you’re taking, but I know exactly how you feel.
Amelia M.L. Montes: Was there a time where you were able to educate “on the street.”
Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez:I was on the bus, and there was an older woman with a woman who seemed to me to be in her 40s.I heard them talking, about the older woman’s husband who was going blind and how her eyesight was going as well because of diabetes.And the younger woman also had diabetes and was talking about her A1C (a test that measures the amount of blood in one’s sugar over the period of three months), and I thought, “Holy cow—there really is someone who understands diabetes.”The younger woman got off the bus and I was trying to figure out how to start a conversation with the older woman without seeming like I had been eavesdropping on their conversation.So I ended up taking out my glucose meter on the bus, and she said, “Ahhh—tu tambien!Pero tan jovencita!” [“Ahhh—you too!But you’re so young!”] And we started talking.I asked her about her family, and if they talked to their family about diabetes.I said, “Talk to your kids about it, they may be able to help you.”It was the most memorable diabetes experience I’ve had.I ended up overshooting my bus stop by 20 blocks so I could keep talking to her.
Amelia M.L. Montes:That is such an important story that, again, speaks to the need for education.What kind of diabetes education do you feel should be in place for Latinas/Latinos?
Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez: The one thing that we have realized is that fear does not educate anyone. We’ve seen HIV campaigns in Mexico gone wrong, and now Ebola is another perfect example. We need to put a positive spin on education. What I’ve found completely useful is that I learned how the body is supposed to work and then I learned why my body is not working the way it’s supposed to. A health class shouldn’t be about just medication or carbohydrate counting. It should be about how your body is supposed to function and how to get it back there. I’ve always been interested in the science portion of diabetes.
Amelia M.L. Montes:So what are some ways to talk to the public that may be helpful?
Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez: Don’t say: “If you don’t check your blood sugar, you’re going to lose your leg.” That doesn’t educate. In order to manage diabetes, it’s important to not let it take you over. You have to be the one who is leading diabetes, and that’s where education comes in—not scaring people. There has to be more positivity and empowerment.
Amelia M.L. Montes: Agreed!
Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez:For example, I was at Northwestern, and a doctor explained that if you check your blood sugar only three or four times a day, that’s like taking a thousand piece puzzle, and only having three pieces of it.The more you know, the more you own the situation.It’s in your power to do it.
Amelia M.L. Montes:Yes—so important.And regarding checking one’s blood, I’ve become used to testing more often on days when I’m not feeling well.So, Christina, where do you feel we are now with diabetes education?
Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez: I feel like there’s a cure for this issue already. World wide, diabetes costs over 240 billion dollars a year. I volunteer with the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and sit on the committee for the ADA EXPO that happens every year. The Chicago ADA chapter is the biggest one in the country. Everyone who sits on the committee wants to do something to further community education, but it seems that the funding is always for something big: “The Walk,” or the EXPO that happens once a year draws about 14,000 people. What I’ve noticed is that the most congested area of the EXPO is the screening section where they will check your feet, your eyes. It’s a free screening, but without any education. But if you look at it that way, what does it tell you? You learn that people clearly aren’t getting the attention they need outside of that EXPO. That means that there needs to be more education, health services, and guidance and that’s just not happening. There’s nothing in regards to community building. Community building is about having the time, energy, and efficiency to do it.
Amelia M.L. Montes: Are hospital clinics different?
Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez:I didn’t have insurance for about a year, and I used this state-funded healthcare situation as a learning experience.Throughout the experience, I had to ask the right questions and demand proper health care.I had a nurse once who told me I didn’t have to check myself so often.Why?Because the state only gives you enough strips to test once a day.They will not insure you for more than one strip a day.How are people supposed to take care of themselves?So if you can afford it, it comes out of your pocket.But what happens when you can’t?
Amelia M.L. Montes: When you say that you “had to ask the right questions and demand proper health care,” I think about the average patient who will not at all think about asking questions, but instead, simply “following doctors orders” without bringing a healthy dose of skepticism into the doctor’s office. But that comes with empowerment. Because you are active with the ADA and are familiar with medical corporations, what do you say to them?
Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez: I’ve been approached by pharmaceutical companies. I tell them: “You have to teach people about themselves, and how they can manage this on their own.” This is why, if I ever won the lottery, I would give donations to clinics – not to foundations. You can donate and donate to foundations, but you don’t know where that money is going. If there were more funding for community clinics where the underserved go for medical attention, they would have more resources for education and servicing the people who really need it.
A visual explanation of diabetes
Amelia M.L. Montes: Your openness and forthright discussions are vital for the rest of us, Christina.For example, here’s an excerpt from the “Discuss Diabetes” posting introducing you:“Growing up with diabetes has given Christina a unique perspective.‘Ever since the beginning, I’ve always had this perception that I didn’t do anything to get Diabetes,’ she said.‘I didn’t choose to have this condition, and if people don’t like me because of it, it’s not my problem.It’s theirs.People often say, they’re sorry when they hear I have diabetes.But I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I didn’t have it.I likely wouldn’t be such a good multi-tasker or as ambitious.I want people to know that I believe I can still do everything I want to do.’”Comments?
Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez:I’ve grown extremely honest.When I go to the endocrinologist, there are times when residents who are working with the doctors come in to see me first.The last time I went, I gave her [the resident] a run for her money.She asked how I was doing, and I told her I’m tired.I’m exhausted from having to be my pancreas.There’s this thing called a burnout, where having diabetes literally gets you down and you’re doing things just to get by.So I gave her this scenario.For me, a burnout happens about every six months.When I told her how I felt, she didn’t know how to deal with it, which is fine.She was just learning.But sometimes doctors are also shocked at how open I can be.I figure, the more they know, the more they can help me.Being vocal and open and talking about it as much as possible is going to eventually make diabetes less of a stigma and more something that can be managed:Talking about it and making it a lifestyle change.
Amelia M.L. Montes: Are there other challenges for you that are linked to diabetes?
Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez: I developed vitiligo, which is skin discoloration. There are no health repercussions. It starts off as white patches. This is another autoimmune disease, and when you have one, you can get more. There are worse things than having your skin color go away—like diabetes.
Amelia M.L. Montes:Christina—thank you so much for your passionate and important words.La Bloga honors November Diabetes Awareness with your interview today. Gracias!
I am in the middle of Twice Tempted, and my project for the rest of the day is to finish reading it. Check back soon for a review!
About TWICE TEMPTED:
Fiona Ferguson’s troubles began with a kiss . . .
It feels like a lifetime ago that Alex Knight saved Fiona from certain doom . . . and stole a soul-shattering kiss for good measure. Wanting nothing more than to keep her safe, he left her in the care of her grandfather, the Marquess of Dourne. But Fiona was hardly safe. As soon as he could, the marquess cast her and her sister out on the streets with only her wits to keep them alive. Alex has never forgotten that long-ago kiss. Now the dashing spy is desperate to make up for failing his duty once before. This time he will protect Fiona once and for all, from a deadly foe bent on taking revenge on the Ferguson line-and anyone who stands in the way . . .
About Eileen Dreyer:
New York Times best-selling author Eileen Dreyer has won five RITA Awards from the Romance Writers of America, which secures her fourth place in the Romance Writers of America prestigious Hall of Fame. Eileen is an addicted traveler, having sung in some of the best Irish pubs in the world. Eileen also writes as Kathleen Korbel and has over three million books in print worldwide. Born and raised in Missouri, she lives in St. Louis County with her husband Rick and her two children.
He arched an eyebrow. “Lord Whitmore again? Please, Fiona. Don’t do that to me. When I hear Lord Whitmore, I think of my uncle, who had six fingers and thought bathing was a trick of the devil.”
She giggled. “I can understand your wanting to maintain the distinction.”
“Every time you call me Lord Whitmore, I will call you Eloise.”
She glared at him, the curtains clutched to her chest like bedclothes, as if she were a maiden in threat of seduction. “You wouldn’t.”
He shrugged. “It is your name. Lady Eloise Fiona Ferguson Hawes.”
“No one knows,” she hissed.
He leaned in very close. “I do.”
She reared back and almost tipping the ladder again. “That is patently unfair.”
He shrugged and reached up for the curtains. “All is fair in love and safety.”
She refused to budge. “I do not believe that is precisely the quote.”
Grinning, he put his foot on the second rung, just beneath her. “Close enough.”
And then he made the mistake of looking into her eyes. Her blue, blue eyes that were suddenly black with arousal. He heard the sharp intake of her breath and saw the erratic pulse beating at the base of her long white throat.
His own body reacted just as it had every time he’d gotten close to her. He focused in on her, his grip on her tightening. Still she didn’t move, caught in the circle of his free arm, her hip pressed against his chest, her mouth just above his. All he had to do was climb another rung, and he could satisfy a four-year-old craving.
His heart was galloping suddenly, and he could feel a bead of sweat roll down his back. He could see a glow on her forehead, her upper lip. Her eyes widened, as if she could read his thoughts, and he could scent something new. Arousal. Need. Hunger. His own body was shaking with it. He swore his cock had taken on a life of its own, and his brain simply shut down.
He leaned a bit closer, his foot still on the step beneath her and paused, giving her a chance to escape, to clout him in the head if necessary. She didn’t. She watched him the way prey might a raptor, unsure and wary. He didn’t blame her. He wasn’t certain how much control he had over himself. It had been so long since he’d had a woman. So much longer since he’d really liked the one he had.
Slowly, so he didn’t startle her into tipping the ladder, he rose up and set his other foot on the rung. She was frozen in place, one hand fisted around the blood-deep velvet, the other clenched against the ladder, as if she was still uncertain whether to use it.
She didn’t. She inhaled, her mouth opening just a bit, as if there wasn’t enough air. As if she were struggling to stay afloat.
Sink, Alex wanted to say as he lifted himself face-to-face with her, mouth-to-mouth. Sink into me.
“I knew it!” a voice screeched behind him, shattering the moment. “What did I tell you about lettin’ them jackanapes in here?”
Fiona reared back, as if he’d attacked her, again throwing the ladder off balance. Alex instinctively pulled back to stabilize them. He pulled back too far and the ladder tipped.
There was a lot of yelling and a couple of muffled thuds as Alex landed on his back, cushioning Fiona’s fall. He wasn’t so lucky.
“Are you all right?” Fiona asked immediately, leaning over him.
“Serves him right,” the housekeeper snapped from the doorway.
He had hit his head so hard he was seeing stars. But he was smelling cinnamon and Fiona, so he really couldn’t complain
“That is enough, Mrs. Quick,” he heard. “Alex? Your eyes are open. Can you hear me?”
Rather than admit that he was too distracted by the plump pressure of her breast against his chest to answer, he simply closed his eyes and groaned. The act would have been unworthy of him if his head weren’t pounding and his arse aching from hard contact with the floor
“Mrs. Quick,” she was saying, her hand on his cheek. “See if Mr. Clemson is outside. Send him for the doctor.”
He knew his injuries didn’t merit such concern. “No doctor.” He blinked a couple of times until the multiple Fionas resolved into one. “I’ll live. My head is a bit bruised is all.”
In retaliation, she took away both her hand and breast, which almost set Alex to groaning again. She actually smacked him on the arm. “Then don’t frighten me like that….again.”
“Don’t know why you let him in here at all,” came the grumble from the doorway.
Untangling them both from the curtains, Fiona sat up. “Thank you, Mrs. Quick. I think we’re all right now.”
“Ya think that, do ya?” Fiona gave her the kind of glare that betrayed her aristocratic heritage. The housekeeper, still grumbling, clasped her hands in a parody of good servile behavior and stalked off down the hall.
Fiona looked back down to where Alex lay, and he could see the cost of the last tumble on her face. He should have been outraged. He was lying in a nest of curtains with a fresh headache and the humiliation of his fall, and she was…laughing.
She tried so hard not to. She held her hand to her mouth. She shook her head. He could see her shoulders heave. He would have chastised her, except the minute he opened his mouth, he burst out laughing, too.
“You are not very beneficial to my amour propre,” he wheezed up at her.
She couldn’t stop laughing, full-throated, full-bellied, as if too much suppressed laughter had simply spilled over. “I…I….didn’t…”
“Mean it,” he managed, making it up as far as sitting beside her. “Yes, I know.”
She frantically shook her head. “Think anything could be so…funny!” She was gasping, bent over her hands at her waist. “The look on your face!”
He had meant to get up, to reassert his mastery of the situation. He refused to sacrifice this perfect moment with her on the floor. Wrapping an arm around her shoulder, he wiped at the tears that coursed down her cheeks.
“It’s not that funny,” he groused.
She started laughing again. “Oh, yes it is. You can have no idea of how long it’s been since I had the chance to laugh. Since I last saw your sister, I think.”
He had to grin. “Well, yes. Pip would set anybody to laughing. She’s a ridiculous little thing.”
For that he got a resounding smack on his chest. “Do not dare speak ill of my best friend.” She hiccuped, her eyes widening a bit. “My only friend, actually. Except for Sarah and Lizzie. And now that Sarah is married to my brother, I have no idea at all how we will meet again.”
There was the faintest plaintive note in her voice that made Alex want to curl her completely into his arms and shield her from hurt. Dear God, how lonely she must have been. “I promise,” he said instead. “I fully respect my sister’s loyalty. It’s her good sense I frequently question.”
Her breathing was evening out. She nodded. “Pip does have a knack for acting before thinking.”
“She’s like a whirlwind.”
“She needs to finally capture her Beau,” Fiona said with a definite nod. “That would settle her down.”
Alex snorted. “Poor Beau. He’d never have another moment’s peace.”
And for a long moment, they just sat there in a pool of sunlight and velvet, his arm around her and her head on his shoulder. It felt so good. So whole.
It couldn’t last. If he didn’t move, he’d damn well take her here on the floor. He opened his mouth to tell her, and then made the mistake of meeting her gaze again.
Her lips were still parted, but she wasn’t laughing anymore. He could see the pulse jumping at her throat, and her hands were clenched again, as if she were trying hard to keep them to herself.
He didn’t know why. Lifting his own hand, he cupped her cheek. Again he gave her the chance to pull away. Again she didn’t. His own heart started to skip around. He was rock hard. There was no longer a question. He had to kiss her.
I love coming across literary sculptures, whether they are the slew of Paddington Bears which recently appeared in London, a dapper James Joyce leaning on his cane on Earl Street in Dublin or Don Quijote and Sancho Panza trotting through the Plaza España in Madrid.
This curious monument of a man sitting amid the tentacles of a giant octopus is also a literary monument. It is in Vigo, in Galicia in North-Western Spain - but what is it?
It is a homage to the French novelist Jules Verne, often described as the inventor of the genre of science fiction, and to the Galician references in his much-loved adventure Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. First of all, the sculpture reminds us of the terrifying chapter in which Captain Nemo and the crew of the submarine Nautilus are attacked by giant squid, as in the English translation, or more correctly by giant octopus (les poulpes, in French). Galicia, renowned for spectacular seafood, is particularly in thrall to the octopus and Pulpo a feira, octopus in the style of the fair, is its signature dish - boiled in huge cauldrons by the pulpeiras, specialist octopus cooks, the tentacles snipped up with massive scissors and sprinkled with olive oil and pimentón.
But there is another chapter of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea which takes place right in the Ría de Vigo, the Bay of Vigo. This was the real life location of a major naval disaster in 1702 when English ships burnt and scuttled the French and Spanish fleets which were returning from the Caribbean laden with treasure from the New World. In the novel, Captain Nemo comes to Vigo to loot the ships´treasure.
Around the Nautilus for a half-mile radius, the waters seemed saturated with electric light. The sandy bottom was clear and bright. Dressed in diving suits, crewmen were busy clearing away half-rotted barrels and disemboweled trunks in the midst of the dingy hulks of ships. Out of these trunks and kegs spilled ingots of gold and silver, cascades of jewels, pieces of eight. The sand was heaped with them. Then, laden with these valuable spoils, the men returned to the Nautilus, dropped off their burdens inside, and went to resume this inexhaustible fishing for silver and gold.
I understood. This was the setting of that battle on October 22, 1702. Here, in this very place, those galleons carrying treasure to the Spanish government had gone to the bottom. Here, whenever he needed, Captain Nemo came to withdraw these millions to ballast his Nautilus. It was for him, for him alone, that America had yielded up its precious metals. He was the direct, sole heir to these treasures wrested from the Incas and those peoples conquered by Hernando Cortez!
Don´t miss the monument to M. Verne if you are visiting this less well known corner of Spain, a place redolent with stories of shipwrecks, smugglers, fishermen´s tales and foot-weary pilgrims, the furious music of bagpipes and an all-pervading smell of octopus and sizzling sardines. And of course, I recommend that you read the book too!
The official Nobel Prize site continues to impress with the wealth of information available on it.
Okay, I don't really need to know the contents of each and every of the Menus at the Nobel Banquet 1901-2013 -- but I do like stuff like that catalogue of Alfred Nobel's Private Library
Given the criticism the literature prize gets -- especially for its early choices -- it's interesting to see what Nobel had in his own library -- and revealing that, for example, he had a tidy Tolstoy collection (much of it in Russian, no less) but not a volume by the first Nobel laureate, Sully Prudhomme (a prize Tolstoy could -- and arguably should -- have won).
First off, the Nobel winners -- a mix of the predictable (Nordic) ones and a few of the early stand-outs: Nobel's collection included works by: Henrik Pontoppidan (1917), Carl Gustaf Verner von Heidenstam (1916), Paul Heyse (1910), Selma Lagerlöf (1909), Rudyard Kipling (1907), and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson (1903).
(It makes me wonder yet again about the now-forgotten Verner von Heidenstam, whose citation reads: "in recognition of his significance as the leading representative of a new era in our literature" -- what era was that ?
But Nobel had a bunch of his work, and he was translated into English back in the day.)
The only surprising missing laureate-name is Knut Hamsun, whose work was already fairly well-known before Nobel's death.
An interesting mix of other titles, too: no Dickens, for example, but Edward Bulwer-Lytton's notorious (for its: "It was a dark and stormy night ..." opening) Paul Clifford, and overall really quite a decent literary collection (in an impressive selection of languages).
(Also good to see: Karl Gutzkow's Die Ritter vom Geiste -- one of those big German books Arno Schmidt introduced me (and so many others) to (as noted also, of course, in my Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy).)
In June, when Simon & Schuster made their ebooks available only to libraries who agreed to add a “Buy It Now” option to their catalog, I was torn between two important promises libraries make to kids and families: we will do everything we can to get you the books you want, and everything we offer is free.
My library holds the line on keeping things free in many ways, even to the point of refusing to offer summer reading coupons that require an additional purchase to get that free ice cream cone. Parents value libraries as places where they know they can escape the relentless pressure to buy stuff, and our commitment to keep it so extends online.
But what happens when the trade-off is keeping popular titles out of our ebook collection? I was stumped. I spent the past few months not taking a stand, simply delaying. Looking askance at every detail of the program and trying to find a good way out of two bad choices.
So I’m thrilled now that the requirement is gone and I can welcome Simon & Schuster to our ebook offerings! Welcome Bunnicula, Olivia, Lucky, Caddie, Derek and Rush! Thanks to libraries who tried “Buy It Now” and those who didn’t and everyone who keeps lines of communication open and advocates for books and readers. Thanks Simon & Schuster for listening and being flexible and working with us to find the way.
This month’s blog post by Rachel Wood, ALSC Digital Content Task Force & Materials Division Chief at Arlington (VA) Public Library.
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The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Margaret Jull Costa's new translation of Benito Pérez Galdós' classic, Tristana -- yes, the basis for the 1970 Luis Buñuel film with Catherine Deneuve in the title-role -- coming out from New York Review Books.
It's apparently Pérez Galdós-revival time -- a (new ?) translation in the Everyman's Library (see the ... cover) of his masterpiece, Fortunata and Jacinta, is one of the big upcoming publications of 2015 -- but much as I'm glad to see these works reworked and him getting attention, it would be neat if some of the still untranslated fiction was (also) made available, given how many huge piles of it still haven't been.
(Not that anyone could easily get their hands on the old translation of Tristana, either .....)
I can see these as the easier sell, but Pérez Galdós is one of the Spanish greats, and it's about time more of his work was available in English (for the first, not -- as in these cases -- the second or third time).
Well, maybe these, if nicely successful, will help open the floodgates.
I confess: I’m a grammar nerd. I always have been. Even when I walked through the hospital corridors in my occupational therapist, pre-writing life, I always loved snarling at the door marked KITCHEN’S, ‘What exactly does the kitchen own?’
Yes, I know, it’s a pathetic sort of pleasure.
Ironically, now that I’ve been earning my living as an author for over twenty years, I’m more tolerant of the fact that English is a changing, living language. I’ve had to accept that when people say decimate to mean devastate or annihilate, they are actually following common usage, and it’s probably not polite to ask them if they mean that one in ten was wiped out.
And sometimes, in fiction – or in blog posts – I break grammar rules. (Yes, it’s true: I’ve just started a sentence with And. I’ve had elderly readers tell me in shocked tones that their English teachers would have never allowed that.)Usually I do it deliberately, but sometimes it’s a mistake, and that really is upsetting.
Because some things are still wrong – and it matters. I frequently get emails from people who are keen to teach me how to ‘author best seller books.’ (I don’t write back and point out that I’ve had a book on the NY Times bestseller list. I told you I was getting more tolerant.) I’m quite sure these people know a lot more about marketing than I do, but I cannot imagine that I would ever pay money to learn how to write from someone whose email is full of grammatical mistakes. (‘A book who has a nice cover’ was another recent one. Really?!)
So I was interested to read a survey by Grammarly, an online grammar checker, that Sales and andTranslation freelancers (and 19.3 for IT and Programming – which actually seems fair enough to me, since they’re using language I can’t understand anyway.)
However, the part of the survey to make a grammar nerd’s heart rejoice is that in each category, the freelancers who made the fewest writing errors earned better reviews – and more money. Grammar nerds of the world unite: it turns out that grammar does matter!
Grammarly, whom I’d only known previously as a source of hilarious-for-grammar-nerds e-cards and memes on facebook, has kindly allowed me to reuse their infographic:
Imagine that you have a one-time-only chance to become a vampire. With one swift, painless bite, you’ll be permanently transformed into an elegant and fabulous creature of the night. As a member of the Undead, your life will be completely different. You’ll experience a range of intense new sense experiences, you’ll gain immortal strength, speed and power, and you’ll look fantastic in everything you wear. You’ll also need to drink the blood of humanely farmed animals (but not human blood), avoid sunlight, and sleep in a coffin.
Now, suppose that all of your friends, people whose interests, views and lives were similar to yours, have already decided to become vampires. And all of them tell you that they love it. They encourage you to become a vampire too, saying things like: “I’d never go back, even if I could. Life has meaning and a sense of purpose now that it never had when I was human. It’s amazing! But I can’t really explain it to you, a mere human. You’ll have to become a vampire to know what it’s like.”
In this situation, how could you possibly make an informed choice about what to do? For, after all, you cannot know what it is like to become a vampire until you become one. The experience of becoming a vampire is transformative. What I mean by this is that it is an experience that is both radically epistemically new, such that you have to have it in order to know what it will be like for you, and moreover, will change your core personal preferences.
“You’ll have to become a vampire to know what it’s like”
So you can’t rationally choose to become a vampire, but nor can you rationally choose to not become one, if you want to choose based on what you think it would be like to live your life as a vampire. This is because you can’t possibly know what it would be like before you try it. And you can’t possibly know what you’d be missing if you didn’t.
We don’t normally have to consider the choice to become Undead, but the structure of this example generalizes, and this makes trouble for a widely assumed story about how we should make momentous, life-changing choices for ourselves. The story is based on the assumption that, in modern western society, the ideal rational agent is supposed to charge of her own destiny, mapping out the subjective future she hopes to realize by rationally evaluating her options from her authentic, personal point of view. In other words, when we approach major life decisions, we are supposed to introspect on our past experiences and our current desires about what we want our futures to be like in order to guide us in determining our future selves. But if a big life choice is transformative, you can’t know what your future will be like, at least, not in the deeply relevant way that you want to know about it, until you’ve actually undergone the life experience.
Transformative experience cases are special kinds of cases where important ordinary approaches that people try to use to make better decisions, such as making better generalizations based on past experiences, or educating themselves to better evaluate and recognize their true desires or preferences, simply don’t apply. So transformative experience cases are not just cases involving our uncertainty about certain sorts of future experiences. They are special kinds of cases that focus on a distinctive kind of ‘unknowability’—certain important and distinctive values of the lived experiences in our possible futures are fundamentally first-personally unknowable. The problems with knowing what it will be like to undergo life experiences that will transform you can challenge the very coherence of the ordinary way to approach major decisions.
Moreover, the problem with these kinds of choices isn’t just with the unknowability of your future. Transformative experience cases also raise a distinctive kind of decision-theoretic problem for these decisions made for our future selves. Recall the vampire case I started with. The problem here is that, before you change, you are supposed to perform a simulation of how you’d respond to the experience in order to decide whether to change. But the trouble is, who you are changes as you become a vampire.
Think about it: before you become a vampire, you should assess the decision as a human. But you can’t imaginatively put yourself in the shoes of the vampire you will become and imaginatively assess what that future lived experience will be. And, after you have become a vampire, you’ve changed, such that your assessment of your decision now is different from the assessment you made as a human. So the question is, which assessment is the better one? Which view should determine who you become? The view you have when you are human? Or the one you have when you are a vampire.
The questions I’ve been raising here focus on the fictional case of the choice to be come a vampire. But many real-life experiences and the decisions they involve have the very same structure, such as the choice to have one’s first child. In fact, in many ways, the choice to become a parent is just like the choice to become a vampire! (You won’t have to drink any blood, but you will undergo a major transition, and life will never be the same again.)
In many ways, large and small, as we live our lives, we find ourselves confronted with a brute fact about how little we can know about our futures, just when it is most important to us that we do know. If that’s right, then for many big life choices, we only learn what we need to know after we’ve done it, and we change ourselves in the process of doing it. In the end, it may be that the most rational response to this situation is to change the way we frame these big decisions: instead of choosing based on what we think our futures will be like, we should choose based on whether we want to discover who we’ll become.