Serviceable sentences, 51/10,000

The one man who has ever made me wish I had a penis is Norman Mailer.
—Alex Mar, “A Female Author’s Love for the Proudly Sexist Norman Mailer,” The Aesthete (undated)

(Not a bad sentence with which to start an essay on a subject as torturous as the sexual politics of reading Mailer. The title is bad, but I assume that’s an editorial imposition and that the much better “My Norman Mailer, Myself” of the article’s URL is Mar’s chosen title. Her penis envy, Mar clarifies, is figurative*: “I wanted a dick like his to swing around—you know, in the literary sense.” Unfortunately, I didn’t get that far because the second of three intervening sentences—”I was just out of college and starting a new life, living a few blocks from the paper he founded …, in an East Village studio so lopsided anything you dropped would roll across the floor”—hoops the mind with panniers of such self-satisfaction that the only sane response is to close the tab immediately.

*This is a disappointment. Imagine a literal legion of Mailer-steeped transmen marching through Provincetown, maniples hefting their synthetic man-poles in salute to a fellow prisoner of sex.)

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Serviceable sentences, 50/10,000

His [Samuel Johnson’s] was a hungry man’s hard-hearted view of life, more like Merle Haggard’s conservatism than like his later friend Edmund Burke’s.
—Adam Gopnik, “Man of Fetters,” The New Yorker (8 December 2017)

(The comparison is unnecessary—and grossly inaccurate if you imagine New Yorker readers taking it as gospel—but the affinity between all three holds: a political or social orientation that moralizes yet [mostly] eschews complaint & guards against its own transformation into universalist aggression. How many times have you seen Johnson, Burke, or Merle Haggard lyrics* used as a rhetorical bludgeon?

*”Fightin’ Side of Me” &”Okie from Muskogee” don’t count. Hell, the latter was so plasticized with irony—well-nigh Chaucerian levels—that the Hag could never consistently articulate what he was doing with that song in interviews.)

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Serviceable sentences, 49/10,000

Intimacy should be off-putting; it’s someone else’s private space we’re barging into.
—Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, “Sometimes, the staying power of horror has nothing to do with fear,” A.V. Club (28 July 2017)

(Off-putting in the sense of “uninviting” [from the Latin inuitare, which Skeat says is of uncertain origin]. Cf. the pornographic invitation recognized by the Mormon anti-porn PSA mentioned in Ss-48/10,000: “Just because you saw pornography, and just because it made you curious or interested, doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.”)

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Serviceable sentences, 48/10,000

Love was mortally wounded when the video camera was first pointed at a hard dick.
—NishikiPrestige, “Trads for Feminism. Trad Feminism. TRADBRO FEMINAZISM” (27 August 2017)

(In Mary Poppins [1964], Mary—on her verse towards the end of “Jolly Holiday”—thanks Bert for not being rapey. The wound is deep, & the Minivan Annihilationist has a way with words. It’s like Andrea Dworkin drunk driving past every “Porn Kills Love” billboard in the Bay Area while texting. Much more effective than the peppy platitudes of LDS anti-porn material my fellow Mormons bombard me with. Compare:

Mormon anti-porn PSA: “‘Pornography’ means bad pictures of people with little or no clothes on. […] Just because you saw pornography, and just because it made you curious or interested, doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.”

NishikiPrestige: “You fucking piece of shit. You like porn? WOW. So does half of the human race. ‘human’ being a kind word for the crawling lusting filth that is YOU. FUCK[. //] An army of men are jerking off to the worst pain we could possibly come up with. Ruined women fuck on film for you. GREAT. You aren’t into that, are you ? Wow. What happened?”

If you’re not already reading NishikiPrestige, start. Start with the post quoted above. Then read this. Then mourn your misfortune that “Doomed Mutants At the Precipice” [formerly “Genetic Load and the Death of the West”] is no longer available.)

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Serviceable sentences, 47/10,000

Sundays, not for church, were for Shakespeare.
—Adam Plunkett, “Keats and King Lear,” Poetry (11 February 2015)

(Even more interesting, Shakespeare’s work served as a medium for Keats’s [proposed*] experiments with telepathic communion:

Keats imagined an afterlife with “direct communication of spirit” like that which he felt as he wrote to George and felt he could begin to approach by their reading “a passage of Shakespeare every Sunday at ten o’clock” on either side of the Atlantic. “And we shall be as near each other as blind bodies can be in the same room.”

*I do not know if he & George followed through on this.)

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Serviceable sentences, 45/10,000

He [H.G. Wells] became, even more than Verne, a Schoolteacher Absolute, a fate that would befall so many later SF writers—Heinlein, Asimov, Bradbury, Le Guin, Delany—that it must be considered an occupational hazard.
—Thomas M. Disch, The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of: How Science Fiction Conquered the World (1998)

(The tightropes of prose prophecy & phantasmagoric vision are hard ones for novelists to walk. At least there’s a net, even if it is pedantry.)

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Serviceable sentences, 43/10,000

The primary outcome of popular pressure is not so much to shift policy as to shift public presentation of policy.
—Nulle Terre Sans Seigneur, “Rough edges of the New Deal revolution,” Carlsbad 1819 (19 August 2017)

(If you made it through the Bush & Obama presidencies, the Occupy movement, the Arab Spring, et. al., without some variant of this insight rooting itself in your parahippocampal gyrus, please commit the above to memory. Policy is an increasingly hyperreal object that “condemn[s]” the voice of democratic subjects “to futility, to obsolescence, and … to obscenity.”)

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Serviceable sentences, 42/10,000

The Tower and The Winding Stair, despite the vagaries of New Criticism an the scholarship on Yeats done under its egregious influence, will be studied increasingly as what they are, as much monuments of Romanticism in English poetry as are JerusalemThe PreludePrometheus UnboundThe Fall of Hyperion, or later, Look! We Have Come Through!The BridgeNotes Toward a Supreme Fiction.
—Harold Bloom, Yeats (1970)

(Another good English Romanticism reading list from Bloom. [Previous list at Ss-34/10,000.] This one, fellow pedagogues, is a teachable sequence. It’s also particularly helpful if you were, as I was, wondering on which of Lawrence’s three great volumes of poetry—Look! We Have Come Through!; Birds, Beasts and Flowers; & Last Poems—to focus your limited time.)

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