“The artist is distinguished from all other responsible actors in society —the politicians, legislators, educators, and scientists—by the fact that he is his own test tube, his own laboratory, working according to very rigorous rules, however unstated these may be, and cannot allow any consideration to supersede his responsibility to reveal all that he can possibly discover concerning the mystery of the human being. Society must accept some things as real; but he must always know that visible reality hides a deeper one, and that all our action and achievement rest on things unseen. A society must assume that it is stable, but the artist must know, and he must let us know, that there is nothing stable under heaven. One cannot possibly build a school, teach a child, or drive a car without taking some things for granted. The artist cannot and must not take anything for granted, but must drive to the heart of every answer and expose the question the answer hides.”
THE CREATIVE PROCESS
By James Baldwin from Creative America, Ridge Press, 1962.
some of my favorite things, with my favorite lit mag in the background.
i’m trying to become more organized, more deliberate—not sure if that makes sense. let me start over.
i am well aware that, for better or for worse, Specter and I are inextricably linked. kinda like Tony Stark and Iron Man—where Stark gets to save the day in bleeding-edge armor of his design, i get to publish literature and art.
not as cool, i guess. but it matters to me, and to others i suppose. well…i know. yes, it does matter to others. it has been those “others,” their very existence, their eyes returning to the site to read the newest issues, that has prevented me from quitting—or encouraged me to keep going, depending on one’s point of view.
i keep saying—tweeting, really—that i would be happy if i continued to improve as editor while, at the same time, never publishing a single word of my own prose. deep down, this is true. deeper still, somewhere to the left of my ego, i’m bothered by this. to the left of my ego is the place where i want adulation, praise, attention, clicks and likes and shit. you don’t get that as an literary magazine editor, as someone who takes pleasure in making a piece of prose tighter, someone who tries to put together an issue of a lit mag the way i imagine my favorite producers sequenced my favorite albums.
you don’t get adulation for this, but that’s not what it’s about—i know this, despite that spot to the left of my ego. i’m supposed to do this because i love it, and that love—of literature, of its dissemination—should sustain me. i’m not sure if that’s true, or fair, or even reasonable. at some point, you need to know that what you do matters. self-love and self-care and self-motivation only goes so far, particularly when you’re sick of hearing your own voice. (Ah, so! The reason why he stopped writing emerges!!)
anyway, i’m ranting. all of this text is of little consequence. what matters is the photo.
“When I pulled the record out, they just looked at me like I was crazy. ‘Pet Sounds’? They probably thought I had put my hand on the wrong record. Now that kind of thing is cool. Everything is accepted as part of everything else. There’s a broad hipster continuum. But back then, there were so many times that I had to explain to myself why “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times” meant so much to me.”
— Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, “Mo’ Meta Blues”
“When you first saw her—beauty, the dream—the human vortex of your life—or him—did you stop, and stand in the crisp air, breathing like a tree? Did you change your life?”
“Lying was at the heart of all acts of betrayal. And so I understood that to tell the truth was the only way to make loving somebody a sane thing.”
“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.”