Liquid Ink

The official website of Gint Aras


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This will change you in 60 seconds (stop abuse)

If this Australian video does not impact you, there’s really no hope for you in the first place.


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So you want to be a writer

Thanks to Writers Circle for posting this. It ended up in my Facebook Newsfeed. I had not read it in very many years.

So You Want to Be a Writer
By Charles Bukowski

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
typewriter
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
fame,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
else,
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of
you,
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
love.
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
sleep
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.


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How many sentences should a paragraph have?

After a decade of teaching in a community college, I’ve finally figured something out. It’s an indictment that it has taken this long, so I’ll take my licks.

There seems to be someone out in the world who is teaching young writers that paragraphs should have 6-8 sentences, and that those sentences should consist of about 8-12 words. Given these requirements, a page ends up consisting of about five paragraphs, just perfect for the five paragraph essay, a stack of neat little boxes all about the same shape and size.

This is baffling. Where did this idea originate? I’m sincerely curious. How can anyone who has ever read even a dozen newspaper articles or a couple of novels conclude that all paragraphs have 6-8 sentences, each composed of 8-12 words?

I don’t even know if I’d be able to write a paragraph like that. Let’s try it.

Belly button lint occurs when small bits of clothing end up trapped in one’s belly button. (fuck, too many words)

Restart:

Fuzz trapped in one’s belly button is known as belly button lint. This stuff can really be annoying to people of any social class. It will be made of the material one wears. When this material rubs against our skin, small bits fall off. Sometimes it ends up in our belly button. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor. Belly button lint does not discriminate or judge. If you think otherwise, you’re among the misinformed.

That’s the worst piece of crap I’ve ever written. And it broke my head. If I had to write an entire essay by following these guidelines, I’d probably hate writing, especially if someone gave me a topic like “recycling”.

bins

Photo by epSos.de


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New thriller set in Vilnius, 1989

At a recent literary event here in Chicago, I got my hands on a surprising book, Love Songs of the Revolution by Bronwyn Mauldin. It’s a thriller (spy novel and murder mystery) set in Vilnius in 1989, and the primary action takes place before and during the Baltic Chain demonstration that occurred in the late summer of that year.

While Mauldin’s book offers quite a bit of interest to the general reader, I want to say some things Lithuanians will find intriguing, and I hope this post encourages members of the Lithuanian media to investigate Mauldin’s work.

Love Songs of the Revolution is, as mentioned, a thriller. As a first-person account, it’s a faux-memoir penned by a former member of the Lithuanian revolutionary underground. A work of meta-fiction, the book employs a variety of epistolary techniques, including faux-research, blogs composed by readers of the memoir, and tweets of a researcher interested in the identity of the memoir’s author. While slim, only 184 pages, Love Songs packs layered commentary on the nature of letters, the process of historiography, the validity of memory, our preoccupation with memoirists’ “accuracy” and other meta-textual concerns common to contemporary studies of narrative.

With nearly a third of the book—indeed, the final third, including the book’s climax—dedicated to this self-reflective shuffle, I found Love Songs as worried about itself as about the socio-politics of the Lithuanian SSR or the identity and psychology of a revolutionary. I don’t mean anything negative by this observation. Indeed, what can be said about a revolution or a revolutionary? Quite a bit but nothing absolute. Love Songs critiques the unenlightened assumption that “truth” lies in data and precise documentation, not in the immeasurable fear and confusion (lust, pleasure, boredom) felt by people in conflict.

No doubt, some Lithuanian readers will pick bones with Maudlin for setting her novel in a city she has not visited and staging conversations in a language she does not speak. I can hear the camp that’ll point out, “Inaccuracies!” (and there are some, including a map that mixes up Kaunas with Švenčionėliai) as I can hear someone saying, “This book is about imprecision because the author is self-conscious about her lack of knowledge.” I think any critique like that fails to take the book on its own terms. It might be ironic to fake a memoir when the author is depending on the memories of others and must imagine how the gaps glue themselves to bannisters. That is, however, the nature of historiography.

I don’t actually feel this book is, at its heart, about Lithuania or the end of the Soviet Union. I feel it’s mostly about contemporary consciousness, primarily in America, an empire in very serious decline. Without including spoilers, I’ll reveal that the book draws parallels between the collapse of the USSR and contemporary America. Our American methods of delusion are different from the Soviet kind, but we avoid facing reality all the same. To quote from Love Songs:

Perhaps the differences seem smaller for those of us who have lived under both systems. In the Soviet era, it was the state who told us how we could and could not live. Here in America, it is the corporations that control our lives, and we are willing participants. Corporations decide what we will see on television and in the movies, what will appear in newspapers, what chemicals and inedible ingredients will be put into our food. If a government did those things to them, Americans would protest, but because something called a corporation does it to them, they pay money for it and beg for more.

There is also this:

I warn you now, my fellow Americans—yes, I am a citizen by choice now in your country—you will be disappointed by this story. You measure the quality of literature by the complexity of its plot twists. Unpredictability and “originality” are valued above all else. You insist on a happy ending, or at least a glimpse of a silver lining behind every cloud. You want to know that no animals were harmed in the making of this story. I can promise you none of this

The story I am going to tell is true; therefore it will not please you. It is direct and straightforward. The dead remain dead, and the guilty go unpunished. The sepia-tinted dream you might wish it to be turns out to be a dull, faded reality. When you close this book, you will frown and use words like “unresolved”. You will come to conclusions, and ask why no one took the actions that are plainly obvious to you.

That is because you are Americans, and you believe there is a solution to every problem. That every grief concludes in closure, or that it should. That hard work pays off, and cream always rises to the top. That every crime can be solved in an hour, minutes eighteen minutes for commercial breaks. That satisfaction is guaranteed. You are fools to expect anything but heartache and disappointment. It is your expectations that make you weak.

Someone might read that and say, “Maudlin really nailed Americans here.” I hope those same people will realize she nailed, in the same three paragraphs, the post-Soviet mentality as well. And that’s the real triumph of this little book. Every gesture connects the sides it critiques.

 

lovesongscover400

 

Photo courtesy of the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography.


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We’re doomed…

Scanning through my Facebook newsfeed today, here’s what I learned:

1.) There’s a lot, and they mean a *lot* of evidence in the bible to support the coexistence of God and alien’s (sic).

2.) Somebody’s friend doesn’t need any proof to know there’s a way to cure cansir (sic) without medications or surgeons.

3.) If Obama had really wanted to stop terrorism, he’d never have run for office.

4.) There’s no way anyone can tell if Jay Cutler is a good quarterback.

5.) Even if it’s true that vaccinations cause most disease to be more widespread, somebody’s friend would still feel the need to live in a well-ventilated area.

6.) The Judeo-Christian God is clearly a guy.

7.) One friend’s friend grew up Catholic, but this has changed “since then”.

8.) Another friend’s friend, when presented with irrefutable evidence of extraterrestrial life, would, indeed, change her understanding of the universe.

9.) Some guy insists it’s just a matter of time before somebody drives out of Colorado with a joint in the car, and they’ll have a pistol in the car, and that will be goodbye to the stereotype of the hippy.

10.) Hyperactivity and a sugar-high are the same thing.

11.) One friend has been trying to teach parents how to perceive their own children for years, but they have not listened to him. He doesn’t have any kids of his own because he has no patience for them, wired or otherwise.

12.) Sometimes the Onion doesn’t use appropriate facts.

13.) “I went to college to become a gym teacher and I can tell you that the Common Core is impossible to learn.”

14.) If other countries had a flag just like America has a flag, they would probably show it at their games, too. But the problem is that the other countries do not play any national sports, so they don’t have any reason to recruit military personnel during their games. A flag is a very important recruitment tool.

To my credit, I avoided getting into arguments with any of these people. So that counts for something, right?

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Back when I had hair…

It’s incredible to me that 1999 killed all reference to “hip times” or “cool days.” This photo is from 2002. There’s nothing nostalgic or hip about “that time”, whereas pictures from the 70’s or 90’s are always so “wow…you remember when life was fun?” Even pictures from the 80’s raise the idea, “Remember how absurd it all was?” But from 2000…you know.

 

Anyway, I had hair back then. I also used to roll really fat cigarettes, for some reason, and smoke them in the Congress Hotel along Michigan Avenue while waiting for friends. Hair fire cigs coffee

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