After the hoopla over Higgs boson died down, we thought long and hard about our next conquest. Had the mysteries of physics all been solved? Was there anything left to discover? A bunch of us scientists were hanging around the lab one night with a case of Old Milwaukee, when one of us—I think it was Günter—said, Shit, we should totally start a microbrewery.
That was all it took. The next week we were loading sacks of hops into the Large Hadron Collider, firing the green pods around the accelerator at incredible speeds (many of us believe the velocity helps draw out the natural flavor of the hops, though there is still some debate about this). Furthermore, our initial forays into genetic engineering have led to the discovery of several new yeast strains (look for our research paper in next month’s issue of Beer Ye! Beer Ye!).
The CERN facilities provide a perfect venue for craft brewing. Seemingly every room has a tank or vessel of some kind. Our computers are exceptionally fast and make processing large orders a breeze. It’s almost as if this place was meant for amateur brewing.
This new venture has reinvigorated our passion for science, and we couldn’t be more pleased to present our inaugural beverage offerings. First off, we have our Geneva White, a traditional Belgian-style wheat beer. It’s a light ale with hints of coriander, quark, and orange peel. The Fermi Porter has a slight toasted flavor, infused with spices and herbs that have passed through our Proton Synchrotron Booster. The Niels Bohr IPA is rich with hops, and a discerning drinker might also notice the bluish radioactive glow emanating from the glass. Our last beer, the Newton Lager, is a more summery blend: the taste of mesons and leptons give way to a smooth and fruity finish, making it a perfect choice for an afternoon picnic or game of horseshoes in the park.
If you enjoy our beers, we hope you will consider writing a letter of support to the member nations of CERN, detailing our contributions to the science of brewing, as many of them are threatening to withdraw their funding.
I’ve always been fascinated by the question: How does one write the contemporary? The answer to that (different, needless to say, for every writer) will by default be a form of the innovative, since the contemporary comes at us otherwise than it did for writers living in 1914, 1814, or 1314. In other words, the question behind my question is: Do I retell received narratives, thereby perpetuating their deep-seated lesson that the world of the text, the text of the world, should remain as it is, or do I short-circuit those narratives, imagine myself into different ones, thereby advocating that the world of the text, the text of the world, can (and should) always be a possibility space — which is to say other than it is?
So for me every engagement with the innovative — whether through the event of reading (which is always a kind of writing) or the event of writing (which is always a kind of reading) — becomes a fresh and always political investigation into not-knowing.
That’s what’s always excited me about the innovative: it’s a mode of art that asks us to continuously unlearn our worlds.
- Lance Olsen (from Bookslut)
understudies special features
Before settling on a somewhat crude moniker for the band in my book, I went through a bunch of alternative band names. Here’s a short list of the rejects:
- Sly & the Family Stallone
- Erroneous Monk
- The French Licks
- Infinite Pest
- Cash for Gold
- Bling Crosby
- The Sticky Wickets
- Babe Vigoda
What I do is create a lens through my work that corrects my readers’ cognitive dissonance and says: you will see all of it—not what you want or what makes you comfortable, but all of it. And you will not erase what displeases you. I don’t do this as a confrontation, but it is. It’s that confrontation, that danger, that has haunted us through story, from the first campfire to now, that we face all of ourselves—all our darkness and all of our light simultaneously—while standing without judgment on very loose ground, in the hope that we can become truly human even for one minute. That’s the only gift the writer has. That, and the fact that you better make the story darn entertaining!
- Chris Abani interviewed by Peter Orner at The Rumpus
I hold on to the idea of making something the same unscripted way that I have a conversation. It comes from a combination of memory and story-telling, anecdote and self-feeling, urge and things that I hear on the radio, pretty much like if we got on the phone and just said, “How’s it going,” and started to describe what’s going on. It’s the faith of the everyday, combined with having some experience working with oil paint and knowing how to take it apart formally. A conversation at first, until it comes to be about undoing it and trying to redo it and making it get to something that has meaning that wasn’t the original meaning, and then I’m stumped and surprised. That’s the whole game right there—to be surprised.
- Amy Sillman (from The Brooklyn Rail)
dept. of speculation
PW: What were the benefits and pitfalls of having a fragmentary structure, as opposed a more traditional, linear one?
JO: The main pitfall was that there was no obvious guide to tell me what went where narratively. For a long time, I wrote the sections out on index cards and shuffled and reshuffled them. And often (very often) I suspected that the book made no sense to anyone but me. But the benefits were huge too. I felt like I could play with all sorts of odd and surprising juxtapositions. I felt like I could capture how emotion moves through a person and then out again. I felt like I could write about quiet, self-contained moments and also about those moments when the world rushes in again. Most of all, I felt that instead of building dutiful bridges I could leap into space.
- Jenny Offill
1) Make sure your characters want something, even if it’s only a cup of apple juice.
2) Imagine the adverbs are hot lava.
3) Show, don’t tell (not to be confused with show and tell, which isn’t until Friday).
4) Write to please just one person. If you open up the window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get cooties.
5) Go easy on the sex and drugs.
6) Revise, revise, revise (at least until nap time).
7) Doodles do not qualify as actual sentences.
*(I teach preschoolers. This probably warrants mention.)
I think literature has a socio-historical function. To me, literature feels bound to the context of its creation in ways that don’t register in other arts. That’s probably a bias on my part, but there it is. Literature attempts to teach the reader about class, sex and power in human relationships at a particular moment in time. It’s meaningless, of course. We’re all passengers on this dinky life raft we call earth. We haven’t gotten to the kill-or-be-killed part of the endgame where your next-door neighbor starts to look like a roasted chicken, but we’re getting there.
- Jim Ruland interviewed at Fictionaut