WFC 2009 Part 5: Random Notes

What follows is a trip through my notebook pages from this year’s World Fantasy Convention — things I wanted to remember, many of which are authors and the titles of their books and stories, some of which may be misspelled. [I think I’ve noted the spellings I’m not sure of.] The stuff is in no particular order — it’s like a junk drawer dumped out onto the tabletop. It’s a starting point: the place to begin intriguing searches and maybe discussions. Feel free to jump in with corrections, information, comments, or further queries.

It’s from such soup that great ideas might come. (Artist Guest of Honor Lisa Snellings said “You can’t go wrong with a soup analogy. It’s all in there.”)

Poe . . . Stephen King . . . background in poetry.

The Last Unicorn poses a riddle that is never answered in the book: “Why is a raven like a writing desk?” One panelist, frustrated for years, eventually caught up with Peter S. Beagle and asked him for the answer. He allegedly said, “The answer is either ‘Poe wrote on both’ or ‘Both have inky quills.'” Someone in the audience chimed in and suggested a third answer: “Both produce notes that are generally not musical.”

There’s a folkloric connection between ravens and the Tower of London — if ravens cease living in and around the Tower, England’s monarchy will fail; the royal line will break. So even now, there are special attendants who look after the ravens and make sure they’re happy living there.

There’s a curious relationship between wolves and ravens in the real world. They play together. Ravens will swoop down and pull wolves’ tails, and the wolves will snap and chase the ravens. (I’m not at all sure the wolves are “playing”. . . .) They also hunt together, helping each other for mutual benefit. Ravens will scout out likely-looking prey and call the wolves’ attention to it. Wolves will leave leftovers that ravens can eat. Ravens follow wolf packs, and wolf packs follow ravens.

The panelists were somewhat divided on whether the raven is more often a wise, instructive friend to humankind or a treacherous opportunist who is not at all our friend. In The Hobbit, the ravens living on and around the Lonely Mountain are long-term noble friends of the Dwarves. The raven who sits on the bust of Pallas in Poe’s “The Raven” may just be making mindless noise; it may be leading the narrator to consider his situation; or it may be mocking him and/or actively trying to push him over the edge. The panelists talked about the raven who leaves Noah’s ark and doesn’t come back, because it finds what it wants and needs elsewhere; they didn’t mention the ravens that bring Elijah food. (Have I got that right?) I keep coming back to the “Twa Corbies,” who will be making a sweet dinner of the dead knight — feeding on his heart, feeding on his “bonny blue eye,” and using his hair to weave into their nests. One panelist had a very good feeling about ravens she’s actually met; one always felt coldness from their eyes, and the sense that, if she died, they would gladly eat her. At Niigata University, there are abundant black birds — I’m not sure if they’re ravens or big crows — who come and hunt through the garbage and glare at passersby. I often get a very unfriendly feeling from them. There was, however, one early summer a couple years ago when I would often give little pieces of my lunch to a big one who would find me regularly and watch and hop as close as he dared. Of course I don’t think he was my “friend.” 🙂

Robert Chambers [I think], The King in Yellow

L to R: Jay Lake, Lisa Snellings, Garth Nix, Michael Swanwick, Donald Sidney-Fryer, Richard A. Lupoff, Zoran Zivkovic, Ann VanderMeer, Jeff VanderMeer: World Fantasy Convention 2009, San Jose, California

E.F. Benson, “Negotium Perambulans” (I may have read this years ago, and that’s what inspired me to include that inscription in Dragonfly, above the shaft where the Thanatops lives. It’s a quote from the Psalm, “Negotium perambulans in tenebris” — “The pestilence that walks in darkness.”)

“A Voice in the Night,” by William Hope Hodgson —  one panelist said a teacher read this out loud to them in gradeschool, and the room was utterly silent, and the kids were totally freaked out and never forgot it.

Same group, same caption

The Sun Bird, by Wilbur Smith (an excellent lost race novel) 

The Moon Pool, by A. Merritt — Lovecraft loved the novelette but condemned the novelization — which is probably the one I have on my shelf here.

David Hartwell’s The Dark Descent (I gather this is some kind of an overview of weird/horror fiction. Very intriguing.)

These next are all from Lisa Snellings:

It’s best not to write some stuff down. Sometimes when we do, when we capture the idea and put it down on paper, that satisfies us, and we’re done with it. Don’t worry: Good ideas persist. If it keeps coming back to you, it’s probably a good one. [This thought really made me nod in recognition. I agree.]

She says Ray Bradbury told her: “A general direction is better than a plan, because plans rarely work out. Keep working.”

The best ideas ring like a bell. The best ideas make you sweat. You just want to work, and don’t care if your shirt is on inside out. [Again, I recognize the truth of this. I’ve been there, now and then!]

In general, people who are successful work very, very hard.

Lisa Snellings says: “Why I’m never blocked: because I go to work every single day. It’s your job.” [Stephen King says pretty much the same thing in On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.]

When you’re working or doing some kind of playing that you’re totally into and the rest of the world disappears, you’re in the Zone. For our well-being, our brains need to be in the Zone. It’s like a shower for our brains. She’s in the Zone often when she’s playing video games. But you can get there when you’re working, too — on art, music, writing, etc.

Moving back to general notes:

Garth Nix: “Some books are good enough to survive the most horrendous authors and constant exposure to them.”

He says “Sabriel” with a long a, as in saber.

Ellen Kushner: “Real life is a great impediment to grace and elegance.”

Tim Powers doesn’t read his contemporaries at all. He has a horror of ever being in a writer’s group, because he’d be expected to read the other group members’ manuscripts. (He says not to tell anyone about this; he hopes no one will post it on-line.) 🙂

When Ellen Kushner was a little girl and realized some other people didn’t like her, her father said, “Do you like everyone you meet? No? Then why should they all like you?” And she never worried about that again.

Something Garth Nix said that I really identified with: He’s a “story-driven character writer.” He knows very little about the characters as he begins writing. He learns about them as they go through the story, as they face the events and act. So he doesn’t try to figure out all that about the characters before he starts. I find this to be amazingly comforting, because I go at it the same way and always wondered if there was something wrong with my approach. This seems so much more real to me than filling out all those character sheets, writing profiles for them, pretending to walk around talking with them for months before you write your book, etc. I’m so relieved!

Someone asked if the panel was supposed to be 55 minutes or exactly an hour. Ellen Kushner said, “It’s 55 minutes. It’s a therapy hour.”

Ellen Kushner: “We live in an age that devalues the imagination.”

Some writer said: “I am all my characters, but none of them are me.”

Michael Swanwick pointed out how in Lud-in-the-Mist, the conflict is between magic (Faery) and the law. [True! In Lud, the modern people are in denial of the existence of magic, and to say “fairy” is like saying the worst swear-word, and their legal language has euphemisms for magical things.]

Swanwick: “At the heart of fantasy is mystery. The universe is unknowable. In sf, it’s the other way around — the universe is knowable and follows noble rules.”

Swanwick related how William Blake saw ghosts all the time. Blake drew a picture of the ghost of a flea to show people what he was looking at. [And this is me: still one of my favorite Blake-related quotes was from his wife: “I seldom enjoy Mr. Blake’s company. He’s always in Paradise.” Blake was in the Zone!]

Swanwick: The weakness of the “deal with the devil” story is that the very existence of the devil offering the deal proves the existence of the afterlife, testifies to eternal consequences, etc. — so who would take such a deal? [An old first-grade classmate of mine, no longer with us in this world, was a fine writer who actually took that into account in writing a “deal with the devil” story.]

Swanwick: “If it’s said in front of a writer, it belongs to him.” [Fred: By this point, most of my friends know this to be true!]

Guy Gavriel Kay: “If almost anything is done well, it can work.” [Isn’t that also extremely comforting? Your idea doesn’t have to be Earth-shaking. Just tell the tale well. Eight centuries ago, the Japanese poet Fujiwara no Teika (1162-1241) told his writing students: “Do not strain for novelty.”]

Guy Gavriel Kay liked the Emma Thompson film Sense and Sensibility — very good film overall — but he intensely disliked how the filmmakers played the manners of the time for laughs from a modern audience. They pandered to a modern audience. It was almost bad enough to kill his enjoyment of the movie. [At my first-ever writers’ conference — I was in high school — Paul Darcy Boles told me that a good thing about my writing was that I didn’t poke fun at my characters. If we write about people in a different time or culture, we have to let them be who they would be in that time and place.]

Modern readers are very averse to dialect. In the 19th century they loved it when characters spoke in dialect on the page, but not now.

Ellen Kushner made the point that, to represent the language of another era or place, you can use the rhythms of that culture’s language. One skillful writer she cited, to give French characters the “flavor” of speaking French in her English-language books, consciously employed the beats of standard French poetry. And the English lines do somehow give the illusion of being French!

Avoid trendiness in speech patterns. [Note to self: Do not have characters in an epic fantasy say, “Tuh. As if!”]

Deanna Hoak: “Copyediting is like bathing. No one notices it unless you don’t do it.”

Guy Gavriel Kay (on writing dialogue that sounds authentic): “There’s no formula for success, but there are avenues for authenticity. It depends on maintaining a consistent tone.”

[In my Hokkaido days, I was the D.M. for a small group that played Dungeons & Dragons in the parsonage of Asahikawa Lutheran Church. As a non-native speaker of Japanese, I spoke — and still speak — the language at one level of politeness: the standard, safe-in-all-situations level that foreigners are taught in classrooms. But Japanese has a huge range in levels of politeness, each appropriate in a different situation depending on the speaker’s relationship to the listener, their relative ages, genders, statuses, etc. Sometimes my D&D group would burst out laughing because my orcs spoke so politely: “Please drop your weapons. If you do not, this will turn into a fight! — Grrr! Aargh!”]

Everyone says read Mythago Wood, by Robert Holdstock. The direct sequel is Avilion. [I’m not sure about any of those three spellings.]

Lavinia, by Ursula LeGuin, is absolutely amazing.

Little, Big is evidently a great book.

Alice Henderson [sp?] has a really good-sounding horror novel set in Glacier National Park.

The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, by Alan Garner — apparently really excellent — one panelist whom I respected re-reads it every year.

In Cold Blood by Capote is really disturbing, really scary.

Final note: It would be a very good idea to read the World Fantasy Award-winning novels and runners-up each year. The ones that win seem to be highly original, hard to categorize.

And there we have it!

Let us go forth and read, write, love, and live!

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33 Responses to “WFC 2009 Part 5: Random Notes”

  1. Jhagman Says:

    The Alan Garner book you are writing about is the “The Weirdstone of Brisingamen”, it was a gift to me from my boss (a B.Dalton Manager), in 1987. It is an excellent book, its sequel “The Moon of Gomrath” is also very good. This same Manager gave me later my first collection of Clark Ashton Smith, Hyperborea. Donald Sidney-Fryer is the ultimate in cool! His “Emperor Of Dreams” is a wonderful bibliography of CAS. Had I been at that fantasy convention I would have been tossed out for hen- pecking him with 10,000 questions!

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      Thank you! I will go back and correct that reference in the post.

      The sad thing about World Fantasy is that one can’t possibly take in everything. Panels, events, and readings are going on simultaneously, so you have to make all sorts of choices. That’s why I wish more attendees would write reports like this — any two people can attend in the same year and spend the four days in completely different ways!

  2. Elizabeth Says:

    These are excellent tidbits of information! Ellen Kushner’s advice on using poetry and “beats” to give the semblance of another language is a cool idea. I need to try that. My favorite, though: Lisa Snellings, Good ideas persist.

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      I’m glad you like some of this stuff! She was talking about how, in English, we really do often speak in iambic pentameter, which is why that form became a formal form. 🙂 There are similar rhythms and lines in other languages. I suppose the drawback of this concept is that a person has to have enough familiarity with some other language to know what those patterns are.

      I love listening to Ellen Kushner talk! She’s done a lot of work in radio broadcasting, and her speaking has that feel — as if you’re listening to The Ellen Kushner Show.

      Lisa Snellings was there as the Guest Artist, but she really impressed me as a writer.

  3. John R. Fultz Says:

    Hey, Fred,

    Another terrific post! I really liked this stuff:

    – It’s best not to write some stuff down. Sometimes when we do, when we capture the idea and put it down on paper, that satisfies us, and we’re done with it. Don’t worry: Good ideas persist. If it keeps coming back to you, it’s probably a good one. [This thought really made me nod in recognition. I agree.]

    I totally agree! My rule of thumb is that I avoid writing anything down until I JUST CANT’ STAND IT ANYMORE. Writing it down gets it out of my head and frees me to move in deeper…and I’ll write more of it down the deeper I get. Often, when you start writing, it’s like a crack in the floodgates…it will start trickling, then flowing, then gushing. Alternately, it’s like taking the first step…which leads to the second, the third, etc. Eventually, you get where you’re going!

    – She says Ray Bradbury told her: “A general direction is better than a plan, because plans rarely work out. Keep working.”

    This is such a terrific quote! Over-planning can be a mistake. I like Ray’s “general direction” concept…even when you make a plan you usually end up altering it as you go. I like to imagine the finish line, then run like hell toward it!

    – The best ideas ring like a bell. The best ideas make you sweat. You just want to work, and don’t care if your shirt is on inside out. [Again, I recognize the truth of this. I’ve been there, now and then!]

    Yes! Those ideas that you just can’t let go of…they’re the ones that you dream about…the ones you think of when you first wake up in the morning…while you’re driving to work…when you’re watching a movie or reading a good book…those are the ideas you have to explore, and the ones you SHOULD be exploring. Another rule of thumb, picked up from Alan Moore is [to paraphrase]: “When you’re not sure if you can do something…when it seems like the idea might be too much of a challenge…that’s when you know you HAVE to do it.”

    I recently had this idea for a tale of high fantasy set in the late 1700s in unsettled Kentucky. It kept growing with every bit of research I did on that time period, and I ended up hammering out the first draft this weekend of “The Gnomes of Carrick County.” It’s unlike anything I’ve ever written–a blend of historical and high fantasy. All that, and Daniel Boone! At first I wasn’t sure if I could do it. That’s when I knew that I HAD to do it. Boy, amd I glad I did!

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      Excellent point: rather than writing things down in much detail, I often find it’s better to write the story. As you excavate the story, that’s usually when you finally know what the ideas really are and how they fit together. I think by trying to write things down in too much detail beforehand, you can end up doing more harm than good.

      That having been said, there are often some key points during a story’s formative stage — usually just a sentence or two — that I will write down for fear of forgetting them. But even then, I often end up discarding or changing them in favor of the real ideas that I find when I’m writing the story. You’re right about the floodgates. There’s also a Louis L’Amour quote I use with my students: “The water doesn’t flow until the faucet is turned on. You can sit and stare at a blank page for hours and nothing will happen. Start writing, and it will.”

      That’s fascinating about how a daunting challenge is an indication that that’s the project one should be working on! Yes, I can see that! I suppose nothing is worse for a story than a setup that doesn’t challenge the writer. If you think you can write the story with both arms tied behind your back, you’re probably not going to pour your passion into it; you’re probably not going to listen to it much, and you’ll miss all the little pitter-patters and siren calls that threaten to make it interesting.

      “The Gnomes of Carrick County” sounds very interesting indeed!

    • mileposter Says:

      Fabulous Alan Moore quote–I just put it on my author page (Jornada) at AllPoetry.com!

  4. Catherine Says:

    How odd! I was just thinking of William Blake and his flea painting. And I started (but neglected to finish) a story based on it . . . ! (I might have to finish it because I had introduced a sister of the artist who was living with him as he was painting who had feelings quite similar to the real Blake’s wife –hmmm . . .)

    It came to a stop when the burglar came in and said: “Please, if it’s convenient, raise your hands, both of them!” (Just kidding.)

    With regards to ravens in Biblical and other lore, they seem to be best defined by Luther’s terminology: simul iustus et peccator . . . 🙂

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      That is odd — good synchronicity! What’s also odd is that I’ve looked at all the William Blake work I can get my hands on — I have more than a passing interest. I once made a 400-mile round-trip to Tokyo on a day when I had class in Niigata in the evening for the chance to see a large exhibit of Blake’s original paintings and prints — it was WELL worth it! (I made it back in time for class!) But I don’t recall ever seeing the ghost-flea painting!

      Heh, heh–that must have been an orc-burglar, huh, to have been so polite? You can tell Uruk-hai burglars because they say “Excuse me” first. . . . And trolls say it in a deeper voice.

      Ooh! Ooh! Does that Latin mean “at once a saint and a sinner”? I figured that out myself, without looking anything up! 🙂 But, granted, I did go to Concordia College, so it wasn’t really fair. . . .

      • Catherine Says:

        I knew the words in English, but I didn’t know them in Latin until I saw a pastor’s t-shirt. Isn’t it weird where one gets information?

  5. Nicholas Ozment Says:

    I have a print of Blake’s “Ghost of a Flea” above my office desk. Along with some Van Gogh–those guys saw so deeply they saw right through our world into another one…

    The raven riddle is originally asked by the Mad Hatter in _Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland_. Lewis Carroll never answered it either.

    I’ll be teaching _Little, Big_ in my American Fantasy Lit class next spring, as well as _The Last Unicorn_. Gaiman’s _American Gods_ and Le Guin’s _Gifts_ round out the list, supplemented by a wonderful anthology _The American Fantasy Tradition_ edited by Brian Thomsen.

    I’ve read _Mythago Wood_ and would recommend it, but I haven’t read the two sequels (there is a third called _The Hollowing_).

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      This is disturbing! Why have I never seen this Ghost of a Flea?! Either I’m living in a different dimension in which my William Blake isn’t quite the same as everyone else’s . . . or I’m eventually going to see the picture of the flea and go, “Oh, that. Sure I’ve seen that!”

      I’d better put Mythago Wood pretty high up on my list of “Books That I Will Pretend to Myself That I Am Going to Read Very Soon”!

  6. Nicholas Ozment Says:

    Addendum to the last post:

    I know some people will raise the objection that Gaiman is British, so why am I including him in a class on American Fantasy? My answer is that _American Gods_ is one of the most quintessentially American fantasies ever written. And besides, he has lived in the states for two decades.

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      This showcases my staggering ignorance, but I never would have guessed that Ursula LeGuin was American!

      I was about to mention Gaiman’s being British, but I did know that he’s lived in the States for some time. And that’s the thing about being American: it means having come from somewhere else at some point in your ancestry (if not your own life) — even if you’re a native American.

  7. Nicholas Ozment Says:

    Ellen Kushner: “We live in an age that devalues the imagination.”

    I expressed a similar gripe this evening over on the SFReader boards. Someone mentioned the WPA program instituted by FDR during the Great Depression to give work to artists, writers, musicians. To which I replied:

    I would have far preferred to see some of that stimulus money go to a WPA-type program–why did the investment banks need to get so much that they could immediately start rolling out those frickin’ ungodly bonuses again? Is it because the political climate has gotten so utilitarian? In other words, politicians today look at the traditional arts (like the theater, writings, murals, musical compositions etc. that the WPA funded) and go, “Art won’t increase the GDP…Stories won’t fill the coffers…Poetry won’t put food on the table.” Well, no it won’t, if you value it so little. There’s a recurrent Puritanical undercurrent in this country that makes my stomach churn–people who look at the arts slightly askance, you know, grumbling, “All them goldarn stories and pretty pictures, they’s all just a bunch o’ lies.”

    • I am WAY out of the loop Says:

      I am reminded of Mr. Holland’s retort: “Well, Gene, if you take away music and the arts pretty soon these kids won’t have anything to read or write about …”

      While I was horrified at a crucifix being placed in a jar of urine, I defend the fool’s right to damn his own soul if he wants to. What offended me even more was knowing public monies were funding him.

      I am all for the arts in schools and universities, but I do not want my tax dollars keeping an artist who cannot support himself from starving. Sorry.

      Too often we Americans think it is the role of all other Americans to fund our pet projects… a little (in truth, a LOT) less government would be good for all of us.

      • Nicholas Ozment Says:

        Sorry, “I am WAY out of the loop,” but you just committed to starvation Conrad Aiken, Saul Bellow, John Cheever, Loren Eiseley, Ralph Ellison, Zora Neale Hurston, John Steinbeck, Studs Terkel, Margaret Walker, Richard Wright, Woody Guthrie, as well as some of the most important photographers, painters, theater actors, and musicians of the early twentieth century.

  8. Lizzie Borden Says:

    Fred, I didn’t thank you for the fantastic post card you sent. I tell you, no one’s ever found a more perfect card for me. I’ve been really interested in the Winchester house and all the hooplah that goes with it since I was a kid.

    Thank you so much for it, I really really love it.

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      It’s so good to hear from you, Lizzie! I’m glad the card reached you. Be sure to watch the next couple posts — either the next one or the one after will be my perspective on the Winchester House.

  9. jhagman Says:

    Honorable Ozment- I don’t think Loren Eisley would have been “committed to starvation”. When you read his wonderful essays on Natural History you realize that this Nebraska boy was a survivor, and very resourceful. He was raised to stand on his own two feet.

    • I am WAY out of the loop Says:

      Woody Guthrie and Studs Terkel were both famous and financially secure during their lifetimes, too…

  10. Ozment Says:

    All of the people on my list were famous and important in American arts and letters, most of them during their own lifetimes. My point is that all of them received WPA funding early in their lives, during the Depression. Certainly they wouldn’t have all starved (I was referring back to Loop’s comment “I do not want my tax dollars keeping an artist who cannot support himself from starving”), but they also would not have been writing “This Land is Your Land” or _The Grapes of Wrath_.

  11. jhagman Says:

    Herr Ozment, While the WPA cut some wonderful Sierra MTN trails, built some monolithic (sort of Soviet) style architecture, to say that you add some WPA dough and get “The Grapes of Wrath”, is kind of a reach. Maybe you are right, but utimately you really don’t know. It is speculation. Steinbeck ,I can imagine working all day as a short order cook, and typing all night,,,, but that also is speculation. The age old conflict for artists is always been creativity, and enough money for independence. Sensei Durbin teaches all day, and probably tries to write at night- a very tough load to haul.

  12. fsdthreshold Says:

    Yes — this is one of those VERY rare occasions when I am compelled to weigh in on a political issue. I am right with you, Brown Snowflake Man: “I do not want my tax dollars supporting an artist who cannot keep himself from starving.” It deeply galls me that I have to pay income tax at all when I’m not getting any richer in life. “WHAT income?!” No, I do not want to fund some “artist” who is doing what I am doing, and I’m doing it without any financial aid. Art finds a way. Art is not food on the table for a person who is starving. In the world of economics — survival in the face of the wolf at the door — art is a luxury. But it is a “luxury” that will not be silenced, and never has been. Can we afford to lose the artists who require a grant to get their work done? Yes, I daresay we can.

    That being said, if there’s a wealthy patron walking around looking for artists to patronize — right here! I’ll gladly write you a story demonstrating that you are the culmination of history if you’ll then support the rest of my work. 🙂

  13. Ozment Says:

    Jaghman, I don’t think I am getting the nuance of my point across. During the Depression, the government WPA program was set up to find ways to pump money back into the economy while banks were closing their doors. One (of many) beneficiaries was artists. Then, as now, the main thing was to get money flowing again while huge numbers of people were unemployed. According to my values, writing _The Grapes of Wrath_ or composing “This Land is Your Land” is just as worthwhile as paving new walking trails. The whole point of WPA was to get a paycheck to people who had no work, and the government created all sorts of jobs. What is happening today is that people make a value judgment that the arts are not “real work.” The fed has already decided to pump hundreds of billions of dollars into the economy to keep some income flowing during the Recession; that’s a given. My gripe is that we’d rather have another $20,000 rolled into the quarterly bonus of a Wall Street investment banker than to see it support, say, the next John Steinbeck. Are you okay with that?

    • Ozment Says:

      Or the next Frederic S. Durbin. 🙂

      • I am WAY out of the loop Says:

        Oz: Could not agree more with you on the point of the bankers (or Fred for that matter) and I love Fred’s plea to any potential patrons out there 🙂

        As the representative arch-conservative responder on this site, let me say I was opposed to Bush’s stimulus package and was vehemently opposed to the colossal waste of the Obama “stimulus” package. And yes, I would have let GM fail.

        My point has nothing to do with art, it is my deeply held belief that it is not the government’s role to put liquidity back in the market — that is Keynesian 101. The system will/would have corrected itself. When there is money to be made private enterprise will find a way. When the money is just being handed out it crimps creativity and creates a dependency (see LBJ’s Great Failure).

        The devil in the detail is the inflation that is coming next summer …
        (sorry everyone … I get going on the politics and …)

  14. jhagman Says:

    Monsieur Ozment- My only problem with your thesis was with what would have happened without WPA dollars, and what a person can really know. Think about it, Woody Guthrie recieved WPA dollars, how many black musicians did not? While “This Land is Your Land” is a very good song, I prefer the jazz that was being written and performed without Government Dollars. We can not really know what would have happened without the WPA. Politics- I despise it aside, we (The USA) really have no money for any of this. I love artists, good schools, healthcare, justice, but we really have for a #1 export is debt! To quote Mr. T, “My prediction is pain”.

  15. Ozment Says:

    Jhagman–In agreement with you about jazz; that’s some of the best music of that (or any) era. Good point about many of those artists struggling and making their music without government support.

    Loop: I agree that your position is consistent with your broader stance, nor do I want to get into those political arguments. Issues of income tax and what it should be spent on—those are political and ideological debates beyond the purview of the limited point I was making. Just keeping within the strict parameters of what is actually happening right now: The government has decided—between the TARP program and the stimulus program—to pump over a trillion dollars into the economy during this Recession. Given they are doing that whether we like it or not, it then becomes a value judgment as to where that money should go. (And, just as you can tell the values of an individual pretty well by looking at his checkbook, so it goes for a nation.) Doesn’t it seem like an inordinate amount of that money has gone to the biggest businesses and the wealthiest individuals—in other words, the ones who need it least? If it is going to get pumped into the economy through some route or other anyway, why not a small fraction of it be through arts and culture? If I were suddenly unemployed, rather than just receiving an unemployment check, I might prefer the government tell me, “Here’s your check, go ye and write.” Granted, I’d be writing anyway. But then I’m getting the money for something, right?

  16. jhagman Says:

    Herr Oz- You are correct, it is already out there, we might as well get some good out of it! But I fear “Way Out” is also I correct. This Universe is Paradoxical. Economy be damned, lets read some good stuff!

  17. I am WAY out of the loop Says:

    Might I suggest we all put on some Coltrane or maybe some Miles Davis, pour a stiff cocktail, and find a good book?

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