Sunday, October 28, 2007

You can never get away from yourself

From Constantin Stanislavsky, An Actor Prepares:
Do you expect an actor to invent all sorts of new sensations, or even a new soul, for every part he plays? How many souls would he be obligated to house? On the other hand, can he tear out his own soul, and replace it by one he has rented, as being more suitable to a certain part? Where can he get one? You can borrow clothing, a watch, things of all sorts, but you cannot take feelings away from another person. My feelings are inalienably mine, and yours belong to you in the same way. You can understand a part, sympathize with the person portrayed, and put yourself in his place, so that you will act as he would. That will arouse feelings in the actor that are analogous to those required for the part. But those feelings will belong, not to the person created by the author of the play, but to the actor himself.

Never lose yourself on the stage. Always act in your own person, as an artist. You can never get away from yourself. The moment you lose yourself on the stage marks the departure from truly living your part and the beginning of exaggerated false acting. Therefore no matter how much you act, how many parts you take, you should never allow yourself any exception to the rule of using your own feelings. To break that rule is the equivalent of killing the person you are portraying, because you deprive him of a papitating, living, human soul, which is the real source of life for a part. (Trans. Elizabeth Reynolds Hapgood. Italics in original.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Cleveland Indians

So I see that the Indians blew a 3-1 lead in the playoffs amid news that one of their pitchers is turning into a cow. My father would have been beside himself.

Someday I will have to write about growing up as an Indians fan. I remember going to a game on my birthday, watching the Indians pitching staff walk fourteen Detroit Tigers to the sarcastic applause of the 3000 or so fans. (The old Municipal Stadium held 80,000.) When the pitcher finally threw a strike, the crowd booed, but the catcher leaped up and pumped his fist--see, you can do it, he was saying. But that wasn't true.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The short story -- dead or sleeping?

A thoughtful response to Stephen King's recent laments on the short story, by Jean Thompson.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Their book deals ruined their lives

I don't know if I should be happy or sad about this.

It also says blogging is the literary equivalent of living in a trailer.

h/t Sara.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Bad Buddhist

I have not meditated in weeks, at least not on the zafu. I think it's because I've been doing yoga nearly every day instead (with my revered Rodney Yee DVD). Yoga is more fun. It also has the additional benefit of being exercise, which means one is multitasking, therefore not really meditating but doing the opposite. But because, in yoga, one has to fully concentrate on, say, not falling on one's head while doing a backbend, the mind clears wonderfully. Whereas if one is "just" sitting, one has to listen to the unending stream of annoying mental chatter that one has yet to let go of or thin out in any significant way. Of course having this goal of getting rid of the chatter is non-Zen.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Noble failure

From an article by John Aravosis, excerpted on Americablog and available on Salon. Why can't liberals win? This is why:
Conservatives understand that cultural change is a long, gradual process of small but cumulatively deadly victories. Liberals want it all now. And that's why, in the culture wars, conservatives often win and we often lose. While conservatives spend years, if not decades, trying to convince Americans that certain judges are "activists," that gays "recruit" children, and that Democrats never saw an abortion they didn't like, we often come up with last-minute ideas and expect everyone to vote for them simply because we're right. Conservatives are happy with piecemeal victory, liberals with noble failure. We rarely make the necessary investment in convincing people that we're right because we consider it offensive to have to explain an obvious truth.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Helpful finds

I'm just starting work on a personal statement for low-residency MFA applications, and probably also for the Stegner fellowship. I haven't written anything like this for twenty years. It's the most excruciating genre ever invented. Fortunately, Tom Kealey has posted his successful statement on his MFA blog. Many, many thanks to him... My first draft was way too elliptical and ponderous. One needs a light touch to balance out the self-mythologizing.

Also here's a list of journals, ranked by tiers--very useful for deciding where to submit. This is from Armand Inezian, winner of Glimmer Train's Summer Fiction Open.

Monday, October 01, 2007


My story "The Temp" has been accepted by Rosebud. It will come out in either winter or spring.