Worthy Reading: Links from the World Wide Web

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We have trotted the World, Wide Web that is, to bring you a handful of links that may inspire, interest or delight you. Some of the links are from fantastic national reads, and others are sourced from powerful blogs run by one, dedicated individual.

The hazy, lazy days of summer are indeed upon us. In some areas of the country, people are figuratively melting from the stifling heat. Others are on breezy beaches pouring over summer reads. Either way we spend our summer months, the long sunny days seem to slow our pace and encourage us to shrug off our good intentions. It is hard to work while our friends are out playing. We were thinking that a little inspiration is in order so, we gathered up a few links from the web to share with you.

Since spring is a time of renewal and birth, we are pairing it with inspiration. Perhaps the impression of beautiful, ahem, cooler weather will prompt a writing frenzy. Without further adieu, a few links to keep you writing, thinking and working, despite the imposing summer heat.

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Writing Prompt: Hansel and Gretel Redux

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We were thinking about the various versions of Hansel and Gretel in the media these days. This classic creation of the Grimm Brothers has been re-imagined in a variety of ways. One of the better known brother and sister duos of literature has been reincarnated and placed in supernatural driven plots and G-rated fairy tales, to name a couple. Writers after the Grimm Brothers have fostered Hansel and Gretel and raised these characters to new heights based on their own creative vision.

There is something satisfying about reworking a classic tale. Hansel and Gretel seem to be a current favorite, but, the Grimm Brothers wrote cautionary tales with other characters, too. For today’s writing prompt, no doubt you see where this is going, revisit Hansel and Gretel and create your own version of this story. If this particular tale does not appeal to you, select another Grimm Brothers story, or, perhaps Hans Christian Andersen captures your imagination. Whichever you decide, enjoy a creative response of your own making to a classic tale.

Happy writing!

How to Read Philosophy

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“Uh, uh, uh, apes don’t read philosophy.”

“Yes they do, Otto, they just don’t understand it.”

The quotes are from a dialog between two of the main characters from the film A Fish Called Wanda. Jamie Lee Curtis, Wanda, is arguing with her lover Otto, played by Kevin Klein. Otto believes himself to be something of an assassin-philosopher. Unfortunately, he gets it all wrong, but, it is all part of the joke. He is not terribly bright (we did not call you “stupid”, Otto) and he tends to misunderstand most of what he takes in. From Buddhist monks to Nietzsche, Otto, humorously, misses the central point of the texts.

So how does one approach philosophy, let alone understand it? Wait! What is the relevance between literature and philosophy anyhow? Well, from our perspective, one, dare we say, may be shared by other readers, writers and lovers of literature, is that stories are based on ideas. A poem is an argument. An essay is an argument. Being able to read a text philosophically can only bring a reader closer to understanding a writer’s intentions, an artist’s vision, a concept behind the art itself. A philosophical approach yields a certain comprehension.

This is all well and good, but Philosophy can be intimidating, initially. The field is riddled with stereotypes: snobbery, arrogance, and black turtlenecks. The reality is that Philosophy encourages thought and not simply pondering the ideas of someone else but, your own thoughts, your own ideas. A philosophical approach to literature will support a philosophical approach to life so, without further adieu, the Limping Devil Press Guide to Reading Philosophy begins.

how to read philosophy, literary journal, limping devil press1. Grab a writing utensil. Several of us at Limping Devil Press have had professors who have impressed upon us the necessity of reading with a pencil. English professors have insisted upon it. One professor in particular stated that one should “read with a w,” meaning that one should have a pen or a pencil in hand while she or he reads for note-taking. Philosophy is no different.

2. The Approach. Say you have danced around the idea of reading Nietzsche, but have yet to jump in, or Kant has routinely been set aside since you have no idea where to begin. If you have been reading literature then you are already accustomed to reading for comprehension, which is one of actions a philosopher would like a reader to do. When you do pick up that philosophical text, a goal is to simply understand what the author is trying to say, to comprehend their point from their point of view.

how to read philosophy, literary journal, limping devil press3. Use more of what you know. Do you recall writing essays in school? Remember the bit about writing an argument? The philosopher is doing the same thing, creating an argument. The author of the text is attempting to persuade you, to sell you on the plausibility, or implausibility, as the case may be, of an idea. Just as writers use creative rhetorical devices to deliver a narrative and drive a plot, the author of a philosophical piece of writing employs similar strategies.

4. Do you agree? Nietzsche would look at all sides of an argument. He would examine, rather intensely, all the possibilities before coming to a conclusion. This is something that philosophy will ask of its reader: to consider what is being said and coming to an agreement or disagreement. Disagreeing will ultimately require more of you than agreeing will.

how to read philosophy, literary journal, limping devil press5. Allow yourself time. Philosophy is not quick. It is not instant. Reading philosophy pales in difficulty compared to actually writing it, so give the author the respect she or he deserves. Allow yourself the time to sit with an idea for a little while. Feel free to read a page, put the text down and do the dishes, or better yet, go for a walk. When reading philosophy, sometimes one is challenged to reexamine much of what one knows, values and believes. This is no small task, so respect that and remember that this is not a competition, but rather, an invitation. The writer is prompting you to have a conversation with yourself, long before you have that heated debate with your friends and colleagues.

We hope that this is a helpful start for you. These are some of the tips and pointers we wish someone would have given us before Freud was dropped in our laps. For now, the only other thing we can say is that the more you like a philosopher, the more time you will spend with her or him. If you find yourself suddenly considering Simone de Beauvoir while searching for a film to go see or watch on the telly, that is a good sign something she wrote struck a chord with you and you are already on your way to reading philosophy.

Do you have any favorite philosophers or tips for embarking on the field of Philosophy?

What We Are Reading: The Stranger by Albert Camus

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It has been hot here in the Pacific Northwest. Many of us, natives especially, have found ourselves taken by the heat. There is no wind to budge the stubborn 90 degree temperature. Those of us who can get to the beach these days do head to the cool boarders of the shore. It is respite after all.

literary journal, limping devil press, book review, blog post, what we are reading, the stranger, albert camus Naturally, a book is a choice companion for such occasions. We took Albert Camus’ classic The Stranger. Perhaps we tempted the uncanny by reading this story at the beach. Meursault, the story’s main character, seems to haunt beaches. Granted, we are no where near Algeria, where The Stranger is set, but a level of appreciation is reached and a mood of the text is grounded in such an environment. The setting is Meursault’s setting.   The beach is where the main character’s turning point and subsequent downfall, takes place.

albert camus, limping devil press, literary journal, book review, the stranger, what we are reading,Why the beach? The Stranger has a way of making the reader ask this question and more, particularly of Meursault. Why Meursault? Why do you do such things? Why do you respond the way you do? What is going on in your head, your era, your world? One cannot help but prod this character. The reader searches for meaning in all of his seemingly futile actions. Thankfully, Camus does not tease; the reader will not put in the work of the text only to be bitterly left without a courteous conclusion. Potential spoiler alert ahead, Meursault speaks, eventually.

Meursault’s apparent indifference during moments that are the soul of importance to human life is puzzling. For clues to this character’s motivations to be rationally unmotivated, one cannot help but examine the times Albert Camus penned The Stranger. Could anyone articulate rationality in the midst of another war, one on the heels of the devastating first global conflict? Perhaps it has nothing to do with the mid or post-war psyche at all, and perhaps one of the more widely known examples of existentialist fiction is not concerned about one’s choices, however; The Stranger is a shallow tale without questioning choice.

Meursault is disarmingly aloof, at first, and then to a fault. He is downright detached, but he keeps going, he keeps experiencing. The Stranger is leading somewhere and the reader is talked through the rabbit hole by an individual who seems completely absent, and yet, he talks to you. He wants you to know something. He talks and we listened to one of the more enigmatic representations of human beings in literature.

Read The Stranger? What did Meursault say?

A Few Things: Photo Inspiration

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Below, we have posted a few pictures for writing, journal keeping, or inspirational blogging. With the new journal to read, we thought a few pictures would be a nice balance for the blog this week.

These pictures are in no particular order. Utilize one or all three for your work. The idea is to work with the spark or ideas that the images bring about. continue reading

Limping Devil Press Journal – Spring Issue

We were away yesterday. Putting the final touches on the journal kept us away from the blog. We were absent yesterday so we could tell all of you today that the first issue of the Limping Devil Press Journal is out.

After months of long days, late nights, and early mornings, it is here. Our first issue is full of talent. It has been difficult for us to not tell you about the poetry, flash fiction, and narrative nonfiction pieces we have discovered for your viewing pleasure.

From the Journal page, a downloadable version of the issue is available. Individual contributors to the inaugural can be viewed from the same page. Works can be viewed as a part of the whole journal or as individual pieces. If you find you have some favorites, and we are sure you will, they can be referenced at your leisure.

Though the first issue has not been out for 24 hours yet, we are already planning our next release. For Limping Devil Press, the next issue is just around the bend, but for now, we are going to take a moment and celebrate this release.

Please feel free to contact us with your comments and other feedback.

What We Are Reading: Ryunosuke Akutagawa

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A couple of weeks ago we began reading Ryunosuke Akutagawa – the Japanese father of short story. We cannot say we knew much about him prior to our reading of him. He is not a well known literary icon for us. This is embarrassing considering the highest literary honor in Japan is named after him: the Akutagawa award.

Akutagawa RyunosukeWe figured it was time to get to know this man. We have loved his short stories. Dark, atmospheric psychological pieces riddled with troubled individuals. Characters are often morally challenged. For example, what choices a person will make when one’s life is at stake. In “Rashōmon,” Akutagawa examines survival – what it is and when does it exist. What will someone do to survive? What are morals worth, especially when they are tested.

It seems there are few saints in Akutagawa’s worlds. At times everyone is suspect and the truth is always spelled with a lower case “t”. It is at the point of questioning that this writer reveals the underlying theme or idea of his work. His modernist piece “In a Grove” contorts the truth to the point of uncertainty. The characters do not know what events have taken place or who performed what actions. The reader does not have any more information than the characters in the story do. It is all chaos, but for fans of Japanese film, there may be a sense that this story has been encountered before. continue reading