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.)
Can it be that there is an intrinsic, causal connection between long poems and wide open spaces?
—Thomas M. Disch, “Onegin’s Children [Review of David Budbill’s Judevine, Mark Jarman’s Iris, Charlotte Mandel’s The Marriages of Jacob, Les Murray’s The Boys Who Stole the Funeral, & Frederick Pollack’s The Adventure],” The Castle of Indolence: On Poetry, Poets, and Poetasters (1995)
(Disch answers this, his question, in the affirmative:
The example of Vikram Seth notwithstanding, I think it more than likely. Country living promotes longer thoughts and patient, sustained achievement, such as gardeners undertake. City life is noted for its speed, excitement, and variety, and while these virtues are not antithetical to a long poem [Ashbery’s Flow Chart is a quintessential long poem in the urban manner], they may well make it harder for the urban poet to pursue the sober, steadfast pace that a long narrative poem requires. This difference is likely to be exacerbated by the different reading habits associated with the city, with its flow of new magazines, new faces, new lingos, and the country, where one may, at last, settle down with the Aeneid in all its rival translations. As we read, so may we aspire to write. Indeed, for someone harboring the ambition of writing a long poem, I can think of no more practical starting point than to change one’s address to somewhere in RFD. [emphasis mine])
There are simply too many poets and too little time to read them all.
—Thomas M. Disch, “Death and the Poet [Review of Peter Whigham’s Things Common, Properly: Selected Poems 1942-1980],” The Castle of Indolence: On Poetry, Poets, and Poetasters (1995)
(Here, a supplement to Ss-35/10,000 & a reminder that even if you don’t stray from the page, the work is never done.)