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Friday, December 11, 2009

Word of the Day!

confrere [kon-frair]
A fellow member of a fraternity or profession; a colleague; a comrade; an intimate associate.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The letters of Van Gogh

Once a great artist (literary/musical/visual) dies the interior life of that artist, that which produced the magic of their art, effectively dies with them. All that is left then is the hard evidence of their life: the art, the letters, the photographs. Like a paint-splattered imprint from a stencil these artifacts can help piece together the moments and memories that, when filtered through that artist's specific mind, created the masterpieces we know and love today.

I've lately begun to despair a bit for my generation's general lack of hard evidence. Most of our lives we exist in a virtual world of e-mail, jpgs, mp3s, and websites all of which can be erased with one swift gesture. Think of the e-mails I wrote during college, much of which I would very much like to peruse today, yet all of them were lost when I left college and the University of Michigan shut down my e-mail account. Now, I'm not equating myself to a Hemingway or Steinbeck or Tolkein, but imagine if there was this 5 year gap in hard evidence from any of those author's lives. What if all we had were the books themselves? Wouldn't we be missing a huge amount of information about their interior lives during one the most formidable parts of their careers?*

It occurred to me recently that for many of the artists who will emerge from my generation and afterwards the only evidence of their interior life will be that which was published or mass produced, for everything else (their e-mails, websites, AIM convos) will likely be erased. It seems strange to me then that future artists may die even more unknown than those of the past. Future Van Gogh's may literally die amid a cloud of confusion, half-truths, and outright misrepresentations as historians are left a disjointed and ambiguous electronic "papertrail" to piece together.

Fortunatelty for us the real Vincent Van Gogh left about 1000 letters and sketches and musings behind for us to read and discuss. And you can see those letters here. Much thanks to the folks at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam for making these public and free.

*This line of reasoning has lead me to wondering whether I should start writing more letters to people. When I become a famous and admired author, it would probably be wise to have as many of my brilliant ruminations on paper as possible. I mean, imagine Da Vinci's reputation without all those awesome skethes.

Word of the Day!

sacrosanct [sak-roh-sankt]
1. Extremely sacred or inviolable.
2. Not to be entered or trespassed upon.
3. Above or beyond criticism, change, or interference.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Word of the Day!

epigone [ep-uh-gohn]
An inferior imitator, especially of some distinguished writer, artist, musician, or philosopher.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Typo of the Day

Librarians are strange people. Not only are they interested in books and reading, but they are also interested in cataloguing, neither subject necessarily inspires the average person’s blood to boil. The nexus of these two obsessions leads to this, a massive list of the words that are most likely to be misspelled in library databases. I like this blog not only because of its arcane subject matter but also because it uses the misspelling as an excuse for illumination. Check it out and be lit with the spark of knowledge.

Word of the Day!

malleable [mal-ee-uh-buhl]
1. Capable of being extended or shaped by beating with a hammer, or by the pressure of rollers; -- applied to metals.
2. Capable of being altered or controlled by outside forces; easily influenced.
3. Capable of adjusting to changing circumstances; adaptable.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Writer Spotlight: Misopogon

Misopogon hails from the desolation that is Detroit, MI and yet his writing contains none of the fatalism that usually accompanies writers from that region of the country. On the contrary Misopogon's writing is optimistic, open, and sincere to a point that almost seems like a throwback to a far-gone time when writers were more interested in telling stories than being hip. In short, Misopgon's writing is refreshing.

I have known Misopogon for nearly a decade, ever since our time together at University of Michigan and since those earliest days he has been the consummate journalist, studying the world around him and honestly reporting what he sees. As of late his writing has focused particularly on the world of sports and most of the time he can be found at the extremely popular Michigan sports blog MGoBlog where he has carved out a niche with his incisive wit and total lack of pretense. Even while running intellectual circles around the reader, his distinctive voice always remains approachable and friendly. In the world of sports journalism that is saying something indeed.

For an exhaustive list of his musing on MGoBlog click here.

And here is one of his short stories, which is, as of late, unpublished:

"The Sweetest Sound" - A hard-working father receives a surprise text from his teenage daughter, which changes both of their lives. Written largely as text message between the father and daughter, "The Sweetest Sound" is both believable and extraordinarily touching.

Word of the Day!

couture [koo-toor]
1.The business of designing, making, and selling highly fashionable, usually custom-made clothing for women.
2.Dressmakers and fashion designers considered as a group.
3.The high-fashion clothing created by designers.
1.Created or produced by a fashion designer.
2.Being, having, or suggesting the style, quality, etc., of a fashion designer; very fashionable.