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Interesting and well written take Noodlebug. In your second to last paragraph you have Jessa watching the blood ooze from her own head rather than her neighbors. Normally I read right past those but that one made me pause and reread. Otherwise, very nicely done.
Just got back from a wedding and on my way across the country for another one. Funny how folks get exhausted “putting on” the appropriate face at these events. I missed this small community where I know folks by their writing, not by their event appropriate face. I have been reading all week, just no time to respond. Thanks Kerry!
A year ago I had my MS done and all ready to push to the publishing world. Carol Lynch Williams offered to give it a final look-over.
As if that wonderfully crafted piece could be found to be deficient.
My writer’s group has been poring over it ever since and I now find myself ready to share it with the world. As I’ve learned a bit on this next aspect on the writing adventure, perhaps others would like a primer on querying.
The information below applies to agents more so than editors. I’ve come to understand that most editors would prefer to work with agented writers and thus, I choose to concentrate my efforts there. I assume the same suggestions would likewise apply to publishers.
Rule number one is to write a killer book. That’s a tough one. There is some very good kid lit out there. Is mine Newbery award caliber? Okay, at least it’s a darn good story and I’m proud of it. I think I’ve got voice, good characters, and a nice story arc. I am biased, but think it is worthy.
Rule number two is to write a killer query. That, too, is a tricky one. It doesn’t take nearly as long to write as the book, yet many writers cringe at the thought of it. There are differing opinions on the format it should take. AgentQuery.com has a three paragraph formula and they say “don’t stray from this format.” Interviews with agents suggest straying. Some like cutesy and clever (you do want your query to stand out from the multitude), others want it to look professional.
As Nathan Bransford says, “A query letter is part business letter, part creative writing exercise, part introduction, part death defying leap through a flaming hoop… In essence: it is a letter describing your project.” What most agents want to see in a query is the genre, word count, a short summary, and information on your writing credentials. A hook, or teasing information similar to a book’s jacket cover is not uncommon. A synopsis would cover major plot points and how they are resolved. The goal of the query is to pique the agent’s curiosity and get them to ask to see more.
Research, a vital step in the query process, should not be skipped. It is important to know if you and your work will mesh with the agent and agency. Before wasting an agent’s time with something they are not interested in, learn what it is they and their agency represents. Determine what their submission policy is. There is variety within them. Along with the query, they may request a synopsis, the first five pages, first three chapters, first twenty pages, a writer’s bio, a book proposal etc., either attached or pasted into the body of the email. You don’t let the great American novel never see light of day because the query, unread, hit the trash folder on a technicality. Representation is a business decision. You want get a feel for how you and the agent will work together will move the project along toward publication.
This a scant look at the query process. Below are sites one can go for in-depth understanding. Don’t fail to follow the links found on these pages. Sites, in addition to those mentioned above, include: Query Tracker, Preditors and Editors,
Once you’ve written the perfect novel, Nathan Bransford says to “write the best letter you can, be yourself, don't overthink it too much.” I believe I’ve done that.
Except for the overthinking it part.
(This article also posted at http://writetimeluck.blogspot.com)
Enter to win a copy of Twelve Dancing Unicorns, written by Alissa Heyman and illustrated by Justin Gerard.
Giveaway begins September 21, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends October 20, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.
With turmoil in the Middle East, from Egypt’s changing government to the emergence of the Isalmic State, we recently sat down with Shadi Hamid, author of Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East, to discuss about his research before and during the Arab Spring, working with Islamists across the Middle East, and his thoughts on the future of the region.
In your recent New York Times essay “The Brotherhood Will Be Back,” you argue that there is still support for the mixing of religion and politics, despite the Muslim Brotherhood’s recent failure in power. So do you see a way for Egypt to achieve stability in the years ahead? Can they look toward their neighbors (Jordan, Tunisia?) for a positive example?
Cultural attitudes toward religion do not change overnight, particularly when they’ve been entrenched for decades. Even if a growing number of Egyptians are disillusioned with the way Islam is “used” for political gain, this does not necessarily translated into support for “secularism,” a word which is still anathema in Egyptian public discourse. One of my book’s arguments I is that democratization not only pushes Islamists toward greater conservatism but that it also skews the entire political spectrum rightwards.
In Chapter 3, for instance, I look at the Arab world’s “forgotten decade,” when there were several intriguing but ultimately short-lived democratic experiments. Here, the ostensibly secular Wafd party, sensing the shift in the country toward greater piety, opted to Islamize its political program, something which was all too obvious (perhaps even a bit too obvious) in its 1984 program. It devoted an entire section to the application of Islamic law, in which the Wafd stated that Islam was both “religion and state.” The program also called for combating moral “deviation” in society and purifying the media of anything contradicting the sharia and general morals. The Wafd party also supported the supposedly secular regime of Anwar Sadat’s ambitious effort in the late 1970s and early 1980s to reconcile Egyptian law with Islamic law. Led by speaker of parliament and close Sadat confidant Sufi Abu Talib, the initiative wasn’t just mere rhetoric; Abu Talib’s committees painstakingly produced hundreds of pages of detailed legislation, covering civil transactions, tort reform, criminal punishments, as well as the maritime code.
The point here is that the Islamization of society (itself pushed ahead by Islamists) doesn’t just affect Islamists. Even Egypt’s president, former general Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, cannot escape these deeply embedded social realities.
Egypt is de-democratizing right now, but the Sissi regime, unlike Mubarak’s, is a popular autocracy where the brutal suppression of one particular group — the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists — is cheered on by millions of Egyptians. Sissi, then, is not immune from mass sentiment. A populist in the classic vein, Sissi seems to understand this and, like the Brotherhood, instrumentalizes religion for partisan ends. In many ways, Sissi’s efforts surpass those of Islamists before him, asserting great control over al-Azhar, the premier seat of Sunni scholarship in the region, and using the clerical establishment to shore up his regime’s legitimacy. Sissi has said that it’s the president’s role to promote a “correct understanding” of Islam. His regime has also been politically ostentatious with religion in its crackdown against the Gay community, leading one observer to note that
Religion is a powerful tool in a deeply religious society and Sissi, whatever his personal inclinations, can’t escape that basic fact, particularly with a mobilized citizenry.
Looking at the region more broadly, there are really no successful models of reconciling democracy with Islamism, at least not yet, and this failure is likely to have long-term consequences on the region’s trajectory. Turkish Islamists had to effectively concede who they were and become something else — “conservative democrats” — in order to be fully incorporated in Turkish politics. In Tunisia, the Islamist Ennahda party, threatened with Egypt-style mass protests and with the secular opposition calling for the dissolution of parliament and government, opted to step down from power. The true test for Tunisia, then, is still to come: what happens if Ennahda wins the next scheduled elections, and the elections after that, and feels the need to be more responsive to its conservative base? Will this lead, again, to a breakdown in political order, with secular parties unwilling to live with greater “Islamization”?
You began your research on Islamist movements before the start of the Arab Spring. How did your project change after the unrest in 2011? What book did you think you would write when you began living in the region — and what did it become after the revolutions?
I began my research on Islamist movements in 2004-5, when I was living in Jordan as a Fulbright fellow. These were movements that displayed an ambivalence toward power, to the extent that they even lost elections on purpose (an odd phenomenon that was particularly evident in Jordan). Power, and its responsibilities, were dangerous. After the Islamic Salvation Front dominated the first round of the 1991 Algerian elections, and with the military preparing to intervene, the Algerian Islamist Abdelkader Hachani warned a crowd of supporters: “Victory is more dangerous than defeat.” In a sense, then, I was lucky to be able to expand the book’s scope to cover the tumultuous events of 2011-3, allowing me to explore evolving, and increasingly contradictory, attitudes toward power. Because if power was dangerous, it was also tempting, and so this became a recurring theme in the book: the potentially corrupting effects of political power, a problem which was particularly pronounced with groups that claimed a kind of religious purity that transcended politics. The book became about these two phases in the Islamist narrative, in opposition and under repression, on one hand, and during democratic openings, on the other. And then, of course, back again. I knew the military coup of 3 July 2013 and then the Rabaa massacre of 14 August — a dark, tragic blot on Egypt’s history — provided the appropriate bookend. The Brotherhood had returned to its original, purer state of opposition.
The Arab Spring also provided an opportunity to think more seriously and carefully about the effects of democratization. Would democratization have a moderating effect on mainstream Islamist movements, as the academic and conventional wisdom would suggest? Or was there a darker undercurrent, with democratization unleashing ideological polarization and pushing Islamists further to the right? I wanted to challenge a kind of cultural essentialism in reverse: that Islamists, like its ideological counterparts in Latin America or Western Europe, would be no match for “liberal democracy,” history’s apparent end state. Any kind of determinism, even the liberal variety, would prove problematic, especially for us as Americans with our tendency to believe that the process of history would overwhelm the whims of ideology. In a way, I wanted to believe it too, and for many years I did. As someone who has long been a proponent of supporting democracy in the Middle East, this puts me in a bit of a bind: In the Middle East, democracy is simply less attractive. Yes. And now, since the book has come out, I’ve been challenged along these very lines: “Maybe democracy isn’t so good after all… Maybe the dictators were right.” Well, in a sense, they were right. But this is only a problem if we conceive of democracy as some sort of panacea or short-term fix. Democracy is supposed to be difficult, and this is perhaps where the comparisons to the third-wave democracies of the 1980s and 1990s were misleading. The divides of Arab countries were “foundational,” meaning that they weren’t primarily “policy” problems; they were the more basic problems of the State, its meaning, its purpose, and, of course, the role of religion in public life, which inevitably brings us back to the identity of the State. What kind of conception of the Good should the Egyptian or Tunisian states be promoting? Should the state be neutral or should it be a state with a moral or religious mission? These are raw, existential divides that hearken back more to 1848 than 1989.
You conducted many interviews to research Temptations of Power. How did the interviews craft your argument — whether you were speaking with political leaders, activists, students, or citizens? Feel free to mention some examples.
Spending so much time with Islamist activists and leaders over the course of a decade, some of whom I got to know quite well, was absolutely critical. And this book — and pretty much every thing I know and think about Islamist movements — has been informed and shaped by those discussions. I guess I’m a bit old-fashioned that way; that to understand Islamists, you have to sit with them, talk to them, and get to know them as individuals with their own fears and aspirations. This is where I think it’s important for scholars of political Islam to cordon off their own beliefs and political commitments. Just because I’m an American and a small-l liberal (and those two, in my case, are intertwined), doesn’t mean that Egyptians or Jordanians should be subject to my ideological preferences. If you go into the study of Islamism trying to compare Islamists to some liberal ideal, then that’s distorting. Islamists, after all, are products of their own political context, and not ours. So that’s the first thing.
Second, as a political scientist, my tendency has always been to put the focus on political structures, and the first half of my book does quite a bit of that. In other words, context takes precedence: that Islamists — or, for that matter, Islam — are best understood as products of various political variables. This is true, but only up to a point and I worry that we as academics have gone too much in this direction, perhaps over-correcting for what, decades ago, was a seeming obsession with belief and doctrine.
When religion is less relevant in our own lives, it can be difficult to make that jump, to not just understand — but to relate — to its meaning and power for believers, and for those, in particular, who believe they have a cause beyond this life. But I think that outsiders have to make an extra effort to close that gap. And that, in some ways, is the most challenging, and ultimately rewarding, aspect of my work: to be exposed to something fundamentally different. I think, at this point, I feel like I have a good grasp on how mainstream Islamists see the world around them. What I still struggle with is the willingness to die. If I was at a sit-in and the army was coming in with live fire, I’d run for the hills. And that’s why my time interviewing Brotherhood members in Rabaa — before the worst massacre in modern Egyptian history — was so fascinating and forced me to at least try and transcend my own limitations as an analyst. Gehad al-Haddad — who had given up a successful business career in England to return to Egypt — told me was “very much at peace.” He was ready to die, and I knew that he, and so many others, weren’t just saying it. Because many of them — more than 600 — did, in fact, die.
Where does this willingness to die come from? I found myself pondering this same question just a few weeks ago when I was in London. One Brotherhood activist, now unable to return to Egypt, relayed the story of a protester standing at the front line, when the military moved in to “disperse” the sit-in. A bullet grazed his shoulder. Behind him, a man fell to the ground. He had been shot to death. He looked over and began to cry. He could have died a martyr. He knew the man behind him had gone to heaven, in God’s great glory. This is what he longed for. As I heard this story, it couldn’t have been any more clear: this wasn’t politics in any normal sense. Purity, absolution. This was the language of religion, the language of certainties. Where politics, in a sense, is about accepting, or at least coming to terms, with impossibility of purity.
Are you working on any new publications at the moment?
I’m hoping to build on the main arguments in my book and look more closely at how the inherent tensions between religion and mundane politics are expressed in various contexts. This, I think, is at least part of what makes Islamists so important to our understanding of the Middle East. Because their story is, in some ways, the story of a region that is breaking apart because of the inability to answer the fundamental questions of identity, religion, God, citizenship, and State-ness. One project will look at how various Islamist movements have responded to a defining moment in the Islamist narrative — the military coup of July 3, 2013, which has quickly replaced the Algerian coup of 1992 as the thing that always inevitably comes up when you talk to an Islamist. In some ways, I suspect it will prove even more defining in the long-run. Algeria, as devastating as it was, was still somehow remote (and, ironically enough, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Algerian offshoot allowed itself to be co-opted by the military government throughout most of Algeria’s “black decade”).
This time around, there are any number of lessons to be learned. One response among Islamists is that the Brotherhood should have been more confrontational, moving more aggressively against the “deep state” instead of seeking temporary accommodation. While others fault the Brotherhood for not being inclusive enough, and alienating the very allies who had helped bring it to power. But, of course, these two “lessons” are not mutually exclusive, with many believing that the Brotherhood — although it’s not entirely clear how exactly this would work in practice — should have been both more aggressive and more inclusive.
You recently went on a US tour to promote and discuss Temptations of Power — any recent discussion items, comments or questions which supported your conclusions or refined your thinking that you would like to share?
During the tour, I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to discuss the more philosophical aspects of the book, including the “nature” of Islam, liberalism, and democracy. These are contested terms; Islam, for instance, can mean very different things to different people. A number of people would ask about Narendra Modi, India’s democratically-elected prime minister and somewhat notorious Hindu nationalist. Here’s someone who, in addition to being illiberal, was complicit in genocidal acts against the Muslim minority in Gujarat. But an overwhelming number of Indians voted for him in a free, democratic process. There’s something inspiring about accepting electoral outcomes that might very well be personally threatening to you. Another allied country, Israel, is a democracy with strong (and seemingly stronger) illiberal tendencies. Popular majorities
In some sense, the tensions between liberalism and democracy are universal and trying to find the right balance is an ongoing struggle (although it’s more pronounced and more difficult to address in the Middle Eastern context). So it makes little sense to expect a given Arab country to become anything resembling a liberal democracy in two or three years, when, even in our own history as Americans, our liberalism as well as our democracy were very much in doubt at any number of key points. (I just read this excellent Peter Beinart piece on our descent into populary-backed illiberalism during World War I. Cincinnati actually banned pretzels).
At the same time, looking at other cases has helped me better grasp what, exactly, makes the Middle East different. For example, as illiberal as Modi and the BJP might be, the ideological distance between them and the Congress Party isn’t as much as we might think. In part, this is because the Hindu tradition, to use Michael Cook’s framing, is simply less relevant to modern politics. As Cook writes, “Christians have no law to restore while Hindus do have one but show little interest in restoring it.” Islamists, on the other hand, do have a law and it’s a law that’s taken seriously by large majorities in much of the region. The distinctive nature of “law” — and its continued relevance — in today’s Middle East does add a layer of complexity to the problem of pluralism. This gets us into some uncomfortable territory but I think to ignore it would be a mistake. Islam is distinctive in how it relates to modern politics, at least relative to other major religions. This isn’t bad or good. It just is, and I think this is worth grappling with. As the region plunges into ever greater violence, with questions of religion at the fore, we will need to be more honest about this, even if it’s uncomfortable. This, sometimes, can be as simple as taking religion, and “Islam” in particular, more seriously in an age of secularism. I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes, which I cite in the book, from the great historian of the Muslim Brotherhood, Richard Mitchell. The Islamic movement, he said, “would not be a serious movement worthy of our attention were it not, above all, an idea and a personal commitment honestly felt.”
Heading image: Protesters fests toward Pearl roundabout. By Bahrain in pictures, CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
In the Independent on Sunday Christopher Folwer [sic ?] continues their admirable long-running series on overlooked literature with installment nr. 242 -- considering (some of) what still remains Untranslated (into English).
I am, of course, always thrilled when folks point to the enormous amount of great and interesting literature that has not yet been translated into English; recall PEN's wonderful PEN recommends-page (which they seem to have ditched recently, sigh ...) or Scott Esposito's Translate this Book ! selection at the Quarterly Conversation (and note that some titles from both these lists now are available in English, which is wonderful).
However, I'd be more impressed if, for example, Folwer didn't spend a paragraph explaining:
A friend from the Netherlands once told me: "If you want to understand who we are as a nation, you must read Character, written in 1938 by Ferdinand Bordewijk."
The Dutch classic concerns a bailiff who tyrannically rules over the slums of Rotterdam, and the ambitious son who becomes a lawyer in order to destroy him.
A keystone of 20th-century literature in its own country, it's impossible to find in an English translation.
A film version won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 1998, but the book is still unavailable.
I understand that folks may currently be boycotting Amazon.com and hence don't do a simple book search there, but come on, you don't need a fact-checker to know (or at least figure out) that Peter Owen published E.M.Prince's translation of this in 1966, and that Ivan R. Dee reprinted it in 1999; my copy ($7.50 at Strand, purchased August, 2007), pulled from my bookshelf and beside my laptop on my desk as I write this, belies the fact that: "it's impossible to find in an English translation"; see the Ivan R. Dee publicity page, or get your own copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
And, yes, the Bordewijk may be a Dutch keystone -- but it's a widely-circulated-in-English one, and given how much else really isn't available in English (just from the Dutch: a pile of Gerard Reve, for one; J.J. Voskuil's epic Het Bureau for another; pretty much anything by local favorite A.F.Th. van der Heijden for a lot more ...), well ... not the greatest example.
Well, at least Folwer has some other nice catches, right ?
By contrast, Angel Ganivet's masterpiece about the Latin temperament, Idearium Español, remains untranslated.
Where is the translation of that Ángel Ganivet masterpiece ?!??
Oh ... wait.
Right there: Eyre & Spottiswoode published J.R. Carey's translation in 1946, as Spain: an interpretation.
With an introduction by R.M.Nadal.
So, yeah, worst researched (and fact-checked) 'literary' article of the week -- as the only two supposedly untranslated titles he explicitly mentions turn out to have been translated.
I hope they get their money back, because that is some beyond-belief shoddy work.
(And people complain about 'book-bloggers' .....)
And a real disservice and wasted opportunity, because there's so much that really hasn't been made available in English yet.
(I was going to note that, while Folwer accurately notes that: "The mass of Holocaust literature, novels in Yiddish, Norwegian, German, Baltic, and Eastern European languages remains untranslated", that this is perhaps not the greatest untranslated issue/oversight to be concerned about -- valuable though it no doubt is, there seems to be a reasonable amount of Holocaust literature available in English -- and maybe a peek beyond the merely European (everything Folwer talks about is European ...) is warranted.
But, as the above examples show, this article is is no way to be taken seriously, so why bother arguing points like that .....
They should just pull it and kill it and put us out of our misery.
And maybe try commissioning authors who have a vague idea of what they're writing about.)
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There is an elderly man on our block who loves to feed birds. My girlfriend and I call him Mr. Tom because he is not much of a talker and "Tom" is pretty much what we could get out of him. Every morning, at around 7:00 AM, Mr. Tom drives his Cadillac to the small "park" in the middle of our street. I say "park" in quotes because it is more like an island of grass with some palm trees, benches, and a sandbox.
Mr. Tom only lives a few houses away from this island of grass and sand, but he needs the car to transport the huge sacks of bird seed that he unloads from the trunk. After Mr. Tom has unloaded the sacks, he drags them to the sandbox, opens them, dumps them, and then carefully proceeds to rake the seeds into the sand, creating ripples and patterns on the ground. Mr. Tom is very systematic and serious when he does this. Once, our dog ran into the sandbox while Mr. Tom was raking, and he got terribly bothered, as if someone had just ruined a masterpiece he was creating. All we could do was apologize profusely and try to explain to our dear little dog that the park and the sandbox were off limits in the early mornings.
Because I don't want to bother him, I have always hesitated to ask Mr. Tom why he does what he does. Yet, it's been a lingering question in my mind since I moved here four years ago. Why do you feed the birds? I imagine the cost of feeding so many pigeons on a regular basis costs a pretty penny. This past Monday morning, as Mr. Tom was packing up and getting ready to leave the park, I rushed over to greet him. He was, as always, both civil and curt. Good morning. Goodbye. It's as if he's on a mission, and he doesn't have time for chitchat or bullshit.
Excuse me, can I ask you a quick question? I blurted out as the pigeons swooped around us, enjoying their morning seeds. He was already in the driver's seat and getting ready to start his car, so I did not wait for a response. Why do you do it? Feed these birds every morning? He paused and looked at me as if the question had caught him off guard. I like birds, he said turning on his ignition.
For a few seconds his words hovered in the air between us and I thought that was all I was going to get, but then he added, When I first moved to this neighborhood 20 years ago, the birds around here were so starved they hardly had any feathers. They have plenty of feathers now. Some people feed stray cats. Others dogs. I feed birds. Have a nice day, he said as he waved goodbye and began to drive away. Thanks to Mr. Tom I call our block The Pigeon Capital of Los Angeles. Often when I leave for work in the mornings, there are dozens of birds perched on telephone wires and more dozens circling the sky. So many well-fed pigeons bring forth the hawks, who cruise the sky regularly, waiting for the right moment to strike. Then there is El Arbol de Las Palomas, where about a half dozen doves hang out and nest. Our street is literally the land of rustling wings. And at times, it is the land of gangs of birds, perched high, gawking. It's reminiscent of Hitchcock's The Birds, which is one of my favorite movies, so I don't much mind the ominous quality of having so many winged creatures looming. The downfall, though, is all the bird shit--white-greyish airborne turds that fall like miniature bombs and splotch whatever they touch. Few on the block escape these droppings. Depending on where we park or which way the winds blew (do winds actually blow in LA?), our cars may or may not get plastered. I used to get angry when my car got bombed. Bird shirt calcifies very quickly under the LA sun, and it eats car paint. It's a pain to have to be wiping bird shit on a regular basis, but I admire Mr. Tom and his 20-year devotion way too much to complain or ask him to stop. Feeding the birds of Lincoln Heights is his ritual. Maybe it's what keeps him alive or feeds his happiness. It definitely keeps the pigeons and doves in our neighborhood happy, and by extension the red-tail hawks. And despite the caca-inconvenience, I cannot deny how spectacular the sky looks when so many pigeons are flying in choreographed circles, swooping down to the sandbox and then back up into the urban sky.
*An earlier version of this blog was posted at wingingitinla.blogspot.com
So, I thought I'd tell you a bit about the Afraid of Colour? sketching workshops I ran for the Urban Sketchers Symposium, in beautiful Paraty. Things were rather more dramatic than I'd anticipated...
Even before I left the UK, the weather forecasters were saying that my first and main teaching day was going to be dreadful weather. They predicted heavy rain and they weren't wrong. I had one 3.5 hour workshop first thing and another all afternoon. My allocated spot was lovely -a grassy area by the harbour, with colourful boats...
...and the lovely houses we found all over the historic area, with brightly coloured windows and doors. I guided my group there on Thursday morning and found a nice shady spot under a tree, where we sat on the grass. I briefed them in and did a very quick demo of using colour before line (you can read more about the specific exercises of the workshop in my post about the dry-run I did in Sheffield):
People had just got settled and begun painting when it started - huge raindrops. One, two... then, all at once, a deluge!
We were SO lucky. I was one of the few instructors whose workshop spot had a rain bolt-hole. There was a lot of flapping and squealing and scrabbling around, gathering up gear, but we all made it under the cover of the empty fish-market before any damage was done. It was a bit grubby, but housed us all easily and we had views out, so that was fine.
All around us the rain came down and thunder boomed above our heads. It all added a certain drama and we had a great time. It was a lovely group. The 3 exercises went well and I briefed in the last one with a slightly longer demo piece:
I had been slightly concerned about having enough time, because of wanting to do 3 different exercises, but my spot was so close to the Casa da Cultura (the symposium's base-camp) that we got there in a couple of minutes, so I even had a little time left over at the end of the workshop and squeezed in an impromptu demo of how to use the watercolour pencils, by drawing one of the group Ievgen:
He was one of the symposium's sponsors, from PenUp:
At the end, we took this lovely group shot. Big smiles all round. Excellent.
After lunch, I met group number 2 back at the Casa de Cultura. But as soon as we got outside, we realised we had a problem. Though my spot was just around the corner, there was no crossing the road - it was like Venice!
Now, we had already noticed that Paraty has an unusual relationship with the tides. The streets are all created from huge stones and dip in the middle, enabling the sea to flow in and out. This would originally have been a great way to clean the streets twice daily.
This is more how it usually looks at high tide, an easy paddle, with crossing places at high points:
But that day there was a freak, extra-high tide and things went a bit crazy. All the instructors were in the same boat, trailing crocodiles of sketchers down the narrow pavements, trying to find a way to get to where they needed to be:
It took my group about 15 minutes and in the end involved us walking along the top of a narrow harbour wall, an inch under-water in places, with sea either side! The sky was about to burst again, so we headed back to the fish market. I did my quickie demo again, then people got painting. A few worked out on the grass, but we suddenly realised: the water was still rising and they were now cut off from the rest of us!
They paddled through to join us before things got worse but, 5 minutes later, we saw it was STILL rising and was about to inundate the floor of the fish market. So the whole group had to paddle back out onto the grass again, where we finished the workshop on our own island. Some people were fretting about ever getting back to civilisatiion! It was all a bit distracting, but I soldiered on, knowing the tide would go back out eventually. Luckily it wasn't raining, but it was now really windy and we were all freezing (dressed for Brazil, not Sheffield!!).
As soon as we were able, we got ourselves into a cafe to warm up. It was a slightly ragged end to the workshop, but quite an experience all round. Luckily my Saturday morning slot was normal - nice, sunny, Brazil weather, no floods:
Thank goodness. It was so lovely to sit out on the grass to brief everyone in and do my quickie-demo:
I had some really lovely feedback from people about the workshop and the handouts I'd created so, despite a certain amount of interesting adversity, in the end I think it was all a big success. Phew. Here I am with my 'sunshine' group:
Thanks to everyone who opted for my workshop (you always fret that nobody will...). I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did and picked up at least something from my package of colour tips. I miss you all!
From their remotest origins, treaties have fulfilled numerous different functions. Their contents are as diverse as the substance of human contacts across borders themselves. From pre-classical Antiquity to the present, they have not only been used to govern relations between governments, but also to regulate the position of foreigners or to organise relations between citizens of different polities.
The backbones of the ‘classical law of nations’ or the jus publicum Europaeum of the late 17th and 18th centuries were the networks of bilateral treaties between the princes and republics of Europe, as well as the common principles, values, and customary rules of law that could be induced from the shared practices that were employed in diplomacy in general and in treaty-making in particular. Some treaties, particularly the sets of peace treaties that were made at multiparty peace conferences — such as those of Westphalia (1648, from 1 CTS 1), Nijmegen [Nimeguen] (1678/79, from 14 CTS 365), Rijswijk [Ryswick] (1697, from 21 CTS 347), Utrecht (1713, from 27 CTS 475), Aachen [Aix-la-Chapelle] (1748, 38 CTS 297) or Paris/Hubertusburg (1763, 42 CTS 279 and from 42 CTS 347) — gained special significance and were considered foundational to the general political and legal order of Europe.
This interactive map shows a selection of significant peace treaties that were signed from 1648 to 1919. All of the treaties mapped here include citations to their respective entries in the Consolidated Treaty Series, edited and annotated by Clive Parry (1917-1982). (Please note that this map is not intended to be an exhaustive representation of the most important peace treaties from this period.)
At Guernica Philip Zimmerman has a Q & A with Daniel Kehlmann: Forging the Artist.
Kehlmann's novel F recently came out in English (to surprisingly little notice so far), but in this interview he also reveals -- shockingly, to me -- that he messed with the ending of Me and Kaminski in the English translation:
I wrote an ending with a lot less pathos for the English version.
I didn't really rewrite it, but I cut it down to a few paragraphs, much more minimalistic, sort of a Raymond Carver thing.
Apparently, you see:
German can take a lot more pathos than English can.
I had planned to title this post "Two Weddings, One Singer, and a Tower," but things got rearranged this morning when it became clear that all the photos I took during my yesterday-long city jaunt are stuck on a malfunctioning photo stick. Imagine, then, that you are glancing at images of newly married happiness, Old City art, a Reading Market singer, and Philadelphia's now-famous pop-up beach. If I can rescue the photos from oblivion. I will share such things in time.
Today, following morning worship with my dad and a happy-making baby shower with dear friends, I'll be back in the city, on the banks of the Schuylkill, for the FLOW Festival with Fairmount Water Works, where a variety of artists are gathering in celebration of the river. Drip Drums, Sonic States, Splash Organ, and Fishway River Net Flood Stories will all be on display, and the day will end with a Grand Finale Light Show that will include, in multimedia fashion, words from Flow: The Life and Times of Philadelphia's Schuylkill River. Look for my neon green walking shoes, end of spectacular day.
Hi, dear kickers. The illustrations I had planned to share today aren’t up, because I had some issues with the image files. Well, most of the images are fine, but two of them are not, so I’ll just wait. I’ll get that fixed soon (I hope) and post about the book another day.
But since posting without images is just not something I can tolerate here at 7-Imp, I’m sharing a piece of art my 10-year-old made. She and her sister are all the time drawing ninja cats, and this particular image cracks me up. It’s the age-old narrative of good vs. evil. This time it’s Ninja Cat vs. Angel Cat. Who will win?
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 * * *
Forgive me for this super short post, but I’m going to let kicks 1 to 7 be sleep. Sleep when you really need it. I’ve had a long, busy day, and I’m going to put myself to bed.
But please do tell me: What are YOUR kicks this week? I always enjoy reading them.
Traveling through Scotland, one is struck by the number of memorials devoted to those who lost their lives in World War I. Nearly every town seems to have at least one memorial listing the names of local boys and men killed in the Great War (St. Andrews, where I am spending the year, has more than one).
Many who served in World War I undoubtedly suffered from what some contemporary psychologists and psychiatrists have labeled ‘moral injury’, a psychological affliction that occurs when one acts in a way that runs contrary to one’s most deeply-held moral convictions. Journalist David Wood characterizes moral injury as ‘the pain that results from damage to a person’s moral foundation’ and declares that it is ‘the signature wound of [the current] generation of veterans.’
By definition, one cannot suffer from moral injury unless one has deeply-held moral convictions. At the same time that some psychologists have been studying moral injury and how best to treat those afflicted by it, other psychologists have been uncovering the cognitive mechanisms that are responsible for our moral convictions. Among the central findings of that research are that our emotions often influence our moral judgments in significant ways and that such judgments are often produced by quick, automatic, behind-the-scenes cognition to which we lack conscious access.
Thus, it is a familiar phenomenon of human moral life that we find ourselves simply feeling strongly that something is right or wrong without having consciously reasoned our way to a moral conclusion. The hidden nature of much of our moral cognition probably helps to explain the doubt on the part of some philosophers that there really is such a thing as moral knowledge at all.
In 1977, philosopher John Mackie famously pointed out that defenders of the reality of objective moral values were at a loss when it comes to explaining how human beings might acquire knowledge of such values. He declared that believers in objective values would be forced in the end to appeal to ‘a special sort of intuition’— an appeal that he bluntly characterized as ‘lame’. It turns out that ‘intuition’ is indeed a good label for the way many of our moral judgments are formed. In this way, it might appear that contemporary psychology vindicates Mackie’s skepticism and casts doubt on the existence of human moral knowledge.
Not so fast. In addition to discovering that non-conscious cognition has an important role to play in generating our moral beliefs, psychologists have discovered that such cognition also has an important role to play in generating a great many of our beliefs outside of the moral realm.
According to psychologist Daniel Kahneman, quick, automatic, non-conscious processing (which he has labeled ‘System 1′ processing) is both ubiquitous and an important source of knowledge of all kinds:
‘We marvel at the story of the firefighter who has a sudden urge to escape a burning house just before it collapses, because the firefighter knows the danger intuitively, ‘without knowing how he knows.’ However, we also do not know how we immediately know that a person we see as we enter a room is our friend Peter. … [T]he mystery of knowing without knowing … is the norm of mental life.’
This should provide some consolation for friends of moral knowledge. If the processes that produce our moral convictions are of roughly the same sort that enable us to recognize a friend’s face, detect anger in the first word of a telephone call (another of Kahneman’s examples), or distinguish grammatical and ungrammatical sentences, then maybe we shouldn’t be so suspicious of our moral convictions after all.
The good news is that hope for the reality of moral knowledge remains.
The good news is that hope for the reality of moral knowledge remains. – See more at: http://blog.oup.com/?p=75592&preview=true#sthash.aozalMuy.dpuf
In all of these cases, we are often at a loss to explain how we know, yet it is clear enough that we know. Perhaps the same is true of moral knowledge.
Still, there is more work to be done here, by both psychologists and philosophers. Ironically, some propose a worry that runs in the opposite direction of Mackie’s: that uncovering the details of how the human moral sense works might provide support for skepticism about at least some of our moral convictions.
Psychologist and philosopher Joshua Greene puts the worry this way:
‘I view science as offering a ‘behind the scenes’ look at human morality. Just as a well-researched biography can, depending on what it reveals, boost or deflate one’s esteem for its subject, the scientific investigation of human morality can help us to understand human moral nature, and in so doing change our opinion of it. … Understanding where our moral instincts come from and how they work can … lead us to doubt that our moral convictions stem from perceptions of moral truth rather than projections of moral attitudes.’
The challenge advanced by Greene and others should motivate philosophers who believe in moral knowledge to pay attention to findings in empirical moral psychology. The good news is that hope for the reality of moral knowledge remains.
And if there is moral knowledge, there can be increased moral wisdom and progress, which in turn makes room for hope that someday we can solve the problem of war-related moral injury not by finding an effective way of treating it but rather by finding a way of avoiding the tragedy of war altogether. Reflection on ‘the war to end war’ may yet enable it to live up to its name.
I can only add my voice to the comments about poetry here Bilbo. This was stunning. Your stories always capture but this one set deep hooks really fast. I was drawn in so completely both by the voice and the story. There are echoes of 1984 and after reading your synopsis, Dies the Fire both. Of course you also spoke eloquently to my own personal distaste for giving up freedom to obtain the illusion of safety. The depth to this was magnificent.
Howdy, folks. I have news for you. Did you have any idea that a children’s literature online show called KidLit TV was in the works? Nor did I until I stopped by Roxie Munroe’s studio the other day. She informed me that man-about-town Rocco Staino had been by with an honest-to-goodness film crew to talk to her about this new series. Calling itself, “The video resource for the greater kidlit community” it’s launching this fall. Here’s the first video so far:
Okay. I admit it. I’m a sucker for cute kids. Thank goodness they don’t do many lemonade stands in my neighborhood or I’d be without a dime in my pocket. So when I saw this video about the Dr. Seuss Wants You! Indiegogo campaign, I was hooked. These gals are trying to raise funds so that their school library can have its very own librarian. Resist their cuteness if you can!
You know what I love? Shakespeare. You know what I love even more than Shakespeare? Graphic novels. You know what I love even more than Shakespeare and graphic novels? Book trailers. Now all three of the things I love have combined in this trailer for The Stratford Zoo Presents MacBeth. I have read and loved the book (Lady MacBeth as a spotted animal = brilliance). Originally premiering on Watch. Connect. Read., do be so good as to enjoy it.
Many of you have probably seen this but the IKEA BookBook ad is rather charming.
Which, in turn, is not too dissimilar from this faux Amazon Prime Air Launch ad.
Thanks to Michael Stusser for the link.
Ooo. Lisa Von Drasek! Now that she’s moved to Minnesota (I am not even kidding when I say how envious I am) I don’t get to see her around and about anymore. Fortunately somebody out there (U of M, presumably) did this kickin’ recording of her conversation with Kate DiCamillo. For those of you more familiar with Kate, come for the DiCamillo, stay for the Von Drasek.
By the way, this is the first I’ve ever heard of IFLA. Anyone else out there feel as out of it as me?
Good old Ed Spicer. Not only does he come out for every book signing I do in Michigan but he records my blabberings and puts them online. This recent posting went up in conjunction with Wild Things but was filmed several years ago. If you’re interested in me with the talkety talk, enjoy.
As for today’s Off-Topic Video, I am thoroughly indebted to Dan Santat. It’s the final ceremony of Star Wars done without the soundtrack. As my friend Dan McCoy said of it, “Over and above the comedy, this actually let me see Star Wars with new eyes, for the first time in decades, which is amazing.”
Publication date: 23 September 2014 by Roaring Brook Press
Category: Children's Picture Book
Format: Hardcover, ebook
Source: Finished paperback copy from publisher
I dare you not to squee while reading A Bed for Kitty! I adore Yasmine Surovec's Cat vs. Human blog. She doesn't update as often as she used to, but that may be because she is busy making picture books now, and I can't fault her for that!
Surovec draws upon her extensive cat-mom experience to come up with this adorable picture book. The story is very simple. You can find Kitty sleeping everywhere--in boxes, on books, on random pieces of furniture and clothing--everywhere except her actual bed. Eventually Chloe figures out a solution to get Kitty to sleep in the bed like she's supposed to.
I especially relate to this since it took months before our cat would sleep in the comfy bed we bought for her. This story is true to life! I love this book's design, particularly the endpapers which I think would make brilliant desktop wallpaper. The colors are cheerfully bright, and the humor gently understated.
I thought it was strong. The voice in the memory was not as powerful at first but it got there. You made me wonder, then dislike the MC but still think he didn’t deserve what he got. Then at the end I had nothing but sorrow for him even though I was smiling for his simple pleasures. In a quick short work you took me on a roller coaster and I loved it.