Liquid Ink

The official website of Gint Aras, Finalist 2016 CWA Book Award


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Interviu per LTR

Va, pirmą kart tokioje viešoje erdvėje rašau lietuviškai . Pasiklausykite mano pokalbio su LTR žurnaliste, Raminta Jonykaite. Labai man patiko jos klausimai. Laidoje eina apie rašytojaus vietą visuomenej, skaitytojų užprovokavimą, žmogaus tapatybę, kultūrinių ir etninių tapatybių iliuzijas, romano naudą, ir panašiai.

Nuorodą rasite čia. Linkiu smagaus pusvalandžio.

 

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A father’s nightmare

My daughter, only four years old, busted her head open after falling from some swings. I’m across an ocean, unable to help. So I wrote an article about the feelings and visions, most of them nightmarish.

Hope you’ll check it out. Please share it.

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Weekly bloggers wanted

As the Marriage Editor at The Good Men Project, I’m looking for someone to blog for me weekly on the subject of Masculinity and Marriage. There’s no pay, but you’d reach a huge audience, and if you’re witty enough you’d become an internet sensation. If you feel like this is something you’re interested in, I’d love to hear from you.

I’m looking for two people.

1.) Ideally, I’d like the first writer to be a man currently in a healthy marriage. You’d have an interesting, witty or ironic (even absurd) way of looking at the day-to-day affairs of a married man. When do you get horny (and what is the result)? When do you get exhausted? How do you deal with the demands life throws at you? Why do you stay in love with the same woman? What happens when you and your male friends, married or not, spend time without women? What happens when you spend time with your wife’s friends? When do you find time for yourself? Etcetera.

Plenty of men are in healthy marriages, and loads of men make great husbands. That narrative, however, gets crushed because it’s “not interesting”. Of course, it’s a fascinating narrative, and it needs to be shared.

2.) Ideally, I’d like for the second writer to be a marriage counselor. I’m interested in what men come to complain about to a counselor and how their concerns can be resolved, if at all. From what I’m able to tell, men, even those in healthy marriages, feel isolated and quieted. How can a counselor deal with this? This would not be an advice column, not necessarily. I envision these posts more as meditations on difficulties, needs, conflicts and resolutions.

3.) I’m also very interested in a divorce attorney who might blog on the conflicts men face when getting divorced, how the law affects men and how anything might be changing. Stories from a legal point of view about both amicable and shitstorm divorces would be most welcome.

What am I not looking for?

Anyone with an absolute position. Anyone with an axe to grind. Anyone with a victim mentality. (Or similar types of complexes.)

Interested parties should contact me: gint dot aras dot kgz at gmail . Please include a writing sample.


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Synchronicity with Arkadii Dragomoshchenko

Note: I was asked by Mikhail Iossel to write this text. It ended up posted on his Facebook.

Early this summer, I needed to ride a train and a bus across Chicagoland, a trip that would take a good hour or so. Buying coffee, I looked in my bag to find I had forgotten to bring a book, so I went to my neighborhood bookstore to browse around. My desires were straightforward: a book of shorts, either poems or essays or stories, something that would not weigh down my bag very much. And I wanted to spend less than ten dollars.

Several books caught my eye, but I finally settled on a tiny little tome, a simple black and white cover. It was titled Dust, a collection of essays by Arkadii Dragomoshchenko. The blurbs said something about memory and dreams, favorite topics, but besides this, I had no idea who he was. I knew he had been translated from Russian, and I trusted Dalkey Archive Press. The book also cost less than six dollars.

The first sentences engaged me in a way books rarely do. As the initial paragraph made its way through my mind, I felt Dragomoshchenko’s prose was braiding strands of light among my thoughts; the effect was a trancelike wonder at the power of words to evoke spaces and sensations in the imagination. I had to stop reading for a moment to begin again—perhaps I was not concentrating properly. But this was simply the effect. The sentences were about something familiar, even tactile and intimate—knives, streets, shells—and yet his ideas and gestures flowed from one unexpected moment to another, cutting at angles that seemed invisible, passages that operated by association and accident, but also depended on some perverted mathematical principle, perhaps algebra. I read slowly, patiently, and let go of any need to understand this man, this Arkadii Dragomoshchenko. I simply let myself experience his beautiful visions, accept his gifts.

Later on in the summer, all the way in Vilnius, Lithuania, I attended the opening reception of the Summer Literary Seminar. I ended up in a conversation with Elizabeth Hodges, the publisher of the St. Petersburg Review, who handed me a bookmark, one of these meant as an advertisement for the journal. Among the names of people the journal had published—it leaped out to me—was Arkadii Dragomoshchenko.

I grew excited, “This guy! This guy! I read this guy! This guy’s a trip!” Someone else in the world knew him? Someone else liked him? Here was a person who had published him? “I stumbled on his book, totally by accident, and it blew my mind.”

I learned that he had only recently died. The news hurt me, a curious kind of pain. It was not the hurt I have felt when relatives or loved ones have died, but very much like the kind that pangs when I hear about the death of a colleague I had worked with overseas, or if I hear that my old professor’s heart stopped beating in the middle of a lecture. Reading Dragomoshchenko is like swimming in his consciousness; at least for me, it was like knowing him across a dozen births and reincarnations. He and I were once goldfish sharing the same bowl; later on I was his housekeeper, and now he was this writer who braided light in my head.

Hodges told me that Michael Iossel, the director of the seminar, had been Arkadii’s close friend. I had to tell him about my accidental discovery. While speaking, I watched a restrained, sublime pain soften Iossel’s expressions, loosen his posture. He told me about Dragomoshchenko’s methods and relations with others in Russia, few of them very good. I took mental notes on what else to read even when I already knew I’d read anything that existed in English.

It is easy to explain this as synchronicity—how often do we run into friends and colleagues of artists we admire? In one way, my encounter with Dragomoshchenko, then with Hodges and Iossel, is exactly the same as being hit by leaves falling from the same tree at different moments of the day and in different parts of the forest. In another, it is the same as searching out for those leaves, the leaves of an elm, in a space where all the other trees are maples or oaks. I read Dragomoshchenko because he is exactly the kind of writer I’d read, and I met his colleagues because they are also interested in these kinds of letters.

Even so, it illuminates something I’ve always believed about literature. Reading a book is not just to engage the thoughts of an author but also to join a community. It’s invisible, spread out over great distances, even foreign to itself, barely aware of how large or small it might be. Despite all this, it is real, enormously powerful and deeply intimate.

Writers must remember this when they stare at their words and wonder, “Why the hell should I bother with this tripe?” There’s no reason, actually, just as there is no reason to invite friends for dinner or ride the bus across town to meet colleagues. But when we do it, and when we share, we create and maintain communities which contribute to what makes life interesting. Books improve bus rides for strangers and make distant friends in the process.

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Drunk husband

I hope you’ll check out today’s Good Men Project article, Dragging a Drunk Husband Home. I’m still in Vilnius, and I witnessed a scene that got me thinking about the private and public lives married couples lead.

By the way, Vilnius is just amazing right now!

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Mobile phones and memory

I’ll be giving a lecture on the difference between memory and imagination in only a day, and so I’ve been thinking about the accusation: “We used to remember so many phone numbers. Now our phones do it for us. We’re lost without them.”

This is true. From childhood to my teen years, I usually had about ten or fifteen phone numbers memorized. I still remember a handful of them.

Here’s the real insult from this phenomenon. Our phones remember our grandparents’ number so that we wouldn’t have to. However, we still need to remember numbers, or at least streams of characters known as “passwords,” a funny name because they lead to no passage at all but only to metaphors for our contemporary entrapment.

I know about seven different passwords which I have invented myself at different times when different machines and services told me it was time for a new one. I cannot automatically reset every password I use in every website to the exact same one without driving myself insane. So I just remember al the different ones. And I’m ridiculously good at it, far better, perhaps, than I had been at remembering phone numbers.

What a pile of nonsense. We have exchanged remembering actual passwords—numbers which brought us to the space of conversation with someone—for these wild multi-character symbols which lead us to our empty bank accounts. Some of us use the same stream of symbols, a exclamation point taking the place of the “l”, fucking absurd !over5!ane to access our pornography.

Our memories work fine. We’re just remembering absurdities.


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Test your love. Say goodbye.

I just came back from the opening reception of the SLS Seminar here in Vilnius to see that my latest Good Men Project article has been published.

I had a moment at the Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands. I’m going to be spending a very long time away from my wife and children, and it dawned on me that, in a way, I’m getting the break I long for most every morning when I wake up as an exhausted dad. It shook me to realize how I might feel once it started.

The article tells the rest. I hope you’ll read it.