20 December 2010

Report on the Writers’ Group

Filed under: Fiction, Reflections — ktismatics @ 7:56 am

No thanks, but I don’t believe I’ll be back next month.

A side note for you empiricists:  During the recent flurry of new Ktismatics posts, traffic on the blog has gone down. This trend mirrors the increase in hits when I previously stopped posting.



  1. So, the writer’s group was focused on “marketability”?


    Comment by Asher Kay — 20 December 2010 @ 10:49 am

  2. You allude of course, Asher, to the last fiasco of a writers’ group I attended. No, commercialization isn’t the M.O. for this group. I’d say this particular group is about cocktail hour chitchat and extended discussions of obscure 19th-century writers’ personal correspondences and striking the studied poses of literati dickwads and cunts. Or maybe it was just me.


    Comment by ktismatics — 20 December 2010 @ 11:43 am

  3. “literati dickwads and cunts”

    What with your new Mad Dog post, you’re really into the blue talk. And I like it!

    So, they just want show off their knowledge, right? Sounds like a proper literary salon of the Balzac-Stendhal-de Stael-George Sand style. (Do I qualify for entry?)

    Nice beginning to the story though.

    A dyslexic man walks into a bra.


    Comment by NB — 22 December 2010 @ 7:44 am

  4. Well done, nb — I’m sure you’d have felt right at home. Actually not though, because everyone in this coterie has known one another for simply ages, adding to the insularity of the outsider’s experience. I’m not one for groups in general, but this was surely one of the longest nights of my life. We arrived at 7pm, and if I wasn’t giving my neighbor a ride home I might have left at 8. As it was we didn’t get out of there until 2am.

    Pre-dinner conversation focused mostly on the host’s rental properties, the difficulty of dealing with trashy renter types, and how stupid young people are for putting up YouTube photos of themselves smoking cigarettes in the apartment, thereby breaking the terms of the lease and facilitating their eviction. During dinner I was seated across from two lit professors, one a former grad assistant of the other, whose sole topic of conversation was whether Middlemarch was a good novel and George Eliot a good novelist. Now I read Silas Marner in high school but that’s about it. I’ve surely never read Eliot’s correspondence, which apparently reveal her as a great writer far more than do her novels. And I’ve certainly not read the former advisor’s marginal notes in his copy of Middlemarch, which the former advisee happened to find on a free used books stack. Ooh, what did I say, what phase was in then, etc.

    So anyhow, I’ll ignore the others’ readings to concentrate on my own selections, which went largely unremarked except for the literati shit it brought to mind. To illustrate: I read the first chapter of the current novel that begins with the Manet bar and the two-guys metajoke, as posted here. I hand around a reproduction of the Manet as a visual aid. The whole chapter takes about ten minutes to read. When I’m finished one guy asks me the date of the Manet painting. I tell him it’s early 1880s (I think that’s right). You know it’s remarkable, the guy responds, but that wasn’t long after the Paris Commune. The guy with the Middlemarch marginal notes then remarks pithily about the ongoing Prussian occupation of Paris and Flaubert’s political views as reflected in his notebooks. This led to a lively conversation between these two dickwads. What about my chapter, I ask. Perhaps a bit confusing, one offered. I’m sure it is confusing if you’re too drunk and self-absorbed to pay attention.

    You want to hear confusing, listen to the next guy read his poems — in Spanish. Another guy translated, but it was on-the-fly, his having never read these poems before. He found the translation work very tough going, with stuttered choppy alternate renderings of lines and phrases and individual words alternating with extended pauses. Beautiful, was the salon’s general sentiment about this slaughterhouse of a poetry reading.


    Comment by ktismatics — 26 December 2010 @ 11:02 am

  5. Charles Dickens walks into a bar and orders a martini. The bartender asks, “Olive or twist?”


    Comment by ktismatics — 26 December 2010 @ 11:08 am

  6. God, that’s sounds awful. Like something out of Mike Leigh. They sound so rude.

    Silas Marner was the only I read too. I just couldn’t get on with her. Hardy too. I quite like Dickens though. There’s a bit more narrative drive.

    From what I hear, Eliot does this thing in Middlemarch that when she introduces a character, you then have to plough through three chapters of that character’s history to reach the point of their introduction again. Brevity is the soul of wit – which basically means: don’t waste my time!

    I’ll stick with Snow Crash.


    Comment by NB — 28 December 2010 @ 5:29 am

  7. The other night I watched Zulawski’s Possession via Youtube link you provided. Talk about over-the-top. I liked it. Maybe I’ll put up some screengrabs and you can explain to me what the wife’s doubling of the husband was all about. I’m trying to remember the last movie I saw where the acting was so intentionally hysterical all around, clearly eschewing any sort of realism in order to achieve the desired artistic effect. Some European film I’m sure.


    Comment by ktismatics — 28 December 2010 @ 10:27 am

  8. Great stuff. Glad you liked it!

    I saw it about a year ago on a Catalan DVD. It was only just released uncut over in the UK a couple of months ago because it had been on the old video nasty list of 74 “dangerous” movies (which also included Salo and Cannibal Holocaust). (The video nasty scare of the early-mid eighties: videos are turning people into psychopaths.) Although I’ve never seen any “torture porn” like Saw and Hostel, and I’m sure those films are pretty lurid and awful, I get the heebie-jeebies when I hear that phrase. It reminds me too much of the video nasty scare…

    I think it was the only nasty ever to receive a Bafta nomination. I absolutely love it. It’s up there with my faves such as WR. It’s one of the those films that has to be seen to be believed. And Ajani is just incredible in it. Never seen acting like it.

    His other films are very good too. Third Part of the Night is definitely worth checking out. Best use of lice in a film…


    Comment by NB — 29 December 2010 @ 7:20 am

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