Month: February 2019

On Writing Good Sentences

At Facebook, Brian Connolly, a former Rutgers student, wonders if the music he’s listening to has an effect on the shape and sound of the sentences he’s writing.  Of course, I say.  How could it not? I used to say that the difference between fiction and non-fiction is pretty simple: fiction persuades without argument, by articulating a world that is substantial and believable—that is, inhabitable—and yet not quite real.  I don’t say that anymore because I’ve come to think that non-fiction also persuades without argument, mainly by imposing narrative forms on what was a random, or at least meaningless,...

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Jordan Peterson: Professional Bore

I generally try to ignore Jordan Peterson.  He appears in my Facebook and Twitter feeds now and then.  But, I try to avoid reading about him.  I know he appeals to all of the basest and worst instincts of humanity.  Why would I need to know more? Peterson stepped off the deep end a long time ago.  Technically a clinical psychologist at the University of Toronto, he has long since branched out into misogyny and racism.  He is a defender of manly men.  One would think, from his public blathering, that Peterson kills and eats animals raw and his women are just that, his.  Frankly, I don’t know if that’s how he actually does roll.  Nor do I care. But last week, Peterson was in Canada’s lesser-known and read national newspaper, The National Post, foaming at the mouth about the American Psychological Association’s new guidelines for treating men and boys.  This is the first time the APA has issued guidelines for treating men and, of course, you’re noting right now that psychology cut its teeth normalizing the behaviour of (white) men.  But these guidelines are focused on the pratfalls of masculinity in the early 21st century and, to a degree, toxic masculinity. Toxic masculinity is the form of masculinity that is vicious, violent, and generally dangerous for all, including its practitioners.  I grew up in a milieu of toxic masculinity. ...

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Sharon van Etten — Remind Me Tomorrow

Sharon van Etten Remind Me Tomorrow Jagjaguwar This is Sharon van Etten’s fifth professionally released album, but she also put out another five albums by herself, recorded to CD-R back in the day.  But, I don’t think anyone really heard her until 2014’s incandescent, beautiful, and amazing Are We There Yet.  That was a breakup album, which centred around the epic track, ‘Your Love is Killing Me,’ where she threatened to break her legs so she wouldn’t run to her ex-lover, to cut her tongue so she couldn’t talk to him, and so on.  It was an arresting track, her powerful voice beating the listener down, feeling her pain and agony in a nasty breakup.  I remember the first time I heard it, I was driving south from Montréal to Boston, where I lived at the time.  There’s a stretch of I-89 south of Burlington and north of Montpelier, just before you head up into the Green Mountains where you come around a bend in the highway and there is an overpass over the interstate, a river flowing to your right, and the mountains are just there, just out of your reach.  It was a bitterly cold winter day.  I nearly crashed the car. Remind Me Tomorrow is a much happier album, and starts with ‘I Told You Everything,’ which presumably is about meeting her current partner.  This track is...

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From the Vaults: REM — Country Feedback

I went down a YouTube rabbit hole the other night when I was procrastinating.  The suggested videos down the right of the screen were kind of creepy, in that they were basically a list of some of my favourite bands and tracks.  And then there was this surprise, a song I hadn’t thought of in a long time.  ‘Country Feedback,’ by REM.  It’s the second-to-last song on 1991’s Out of Time, the album that took REM from a college rock staple, the gods of the American indie scene, to superstars, largely centred around the massive hit ‘Losing My Religion.’  Whenever they played this song live, Michael Stipe introduced it by saying it was his favourite REM song.  I think it’s mine, too. This song has never failed to move me.  Out Of Time came out in the spring of 1991, my final year of high school.  It was a tumultuous time in my life, to say the least.  Things were coming to a head at home, where my Old Man and I were on the verge of an all out nuclear war and I couldn’t wait to get the fuck out of there and go to university and begin  my life.  So, in other words, I was a North American adolescent of my time and place. All of the spring and summer of 1991, I was transfixed by this song.  Stipe’s lyrics...

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