34 Comments

Ah this statement "To create a space, an oasis from the commotion of reality where we can stop time and ponder and ruminate for a while, and discuss differing perspectives with curiosity instead of pomposity." is so true about your essays - you captured exactly how I feel when reading your essays, and thus are very self aware about your own writing. I always feel satisfied too - full and warm.

Also, love that you both brought up bread (flour water salt etc) and the "breath" as it reminds me of this essay i remember enjoying over a decade ago https://www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/37/smith.php - enjoy! And thank you. Oh also, I never considered myself an "essayist" until you put my first piece of writing under the "essays" category and i thought "cool, i write essays!"

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Dec 18, 2022Liked by Thomas J Bevan

I enjoyed the #6 footnote and truth be told, most of my most moving and impactful books do indeed have wonderful footnotes.

Question: I am not a writer, but I give a medium number of (non powerpoint) talks. In these talks, they start (the planning part) off as lifeless and dull, but once it reaches a critical mass, and a bit of emotion is kindled (perhaps "the time in the bread") the talk will literally/magically write itself. Many times I will have to trim it back for time constraints. As a writer, do you feel the same way, where the essay writes itself? When you have the breath suddenly in you and your job is to orderly exhale in an understandable fashion.?. I wonder too if storytellers and poets have this same path. Congrats on #100!

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“The great joy of writing is in the surprise, is in the times you feel that you are a conduit and so are yourself genuinely enlightened by what has just been written” Yes, exactly. I tend to write absent any plotted structure. And I’m always amazed where it takes me. I literally wonder, “Where did that come from?” As if I’m channeling something.

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One of the best essays on essays.

Read it, played on Twitter, then came back and reread it.

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Dec 20, 2022Liked by Thomas J Bevan

First of all congratulations on reaching 100. A significant milestone and must be a moment of pride having a veritable body of work. Second, while I assume there is no objective to the writing other than what you discuss, I find myself inspired to write after reading your essays. The best kind of brand to harness the term is the voice you like to hear--are accustomed to hearing. Trying to be something is so often sterile. Consistency of self-expression, now that is what brings you a century.

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founding

Brilliant as always. I agree with everything you said there, it’s how I have been feeling it throughout my journey—thanks to you, Tom.

And congratulations on the 💯

The essay collection vol2, when?

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Dec 17, 2022·edited Dec 17, 2022Liked by Thomas J Bevan

I think it was Miles Davis who said that he played the spaces between the notes. As an essayist, I am very cognizant of the spaces between the nouns and the verbs. I try, no, TRY, to avoid adjectives, adverbs, and articles. They exist to make writing more specific, but it doesn't translate into clarity necessarily. BTW, if you keep writing, I'll keep reading. Best to you in your next century of essays.

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Dec 17, 2022Liked by Thomas J Bevan

As one flâneur to another, I totally agree about the need to break away from prescribed structure, and the primacy of style. Jane Alison's book on writing, Meander, Spiral , Explode captures it perfectly. https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/673519/meander-spiral-explode-by-jane-alison/

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Re: note 6, it was Derrida. He wrote a whole book in this, in fact -- a book I'm revisiting because I'm writing an essay on it for the 'stack soon! I'm gonna be referencing the hell out of this when I do, probably... Great work here, man. Thank you for making me reimagine the potency of my second favorite medium.

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"When we are absolutely drowning in information and opinions and narratives, it is being read to the end that counts and it is being remembered after that which really counts." - That's why I make sure I read everything you write to the end. One of the bests in our age, thank your for ~being.

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Wonderful thoughts as usual. I may have found a kernel of new project in them. We'll see what happens...

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Such a great post - and congratulations on the #100 milestone!

"An essay is not homework, it is creative expression." This is how I too view the art of the essay. It's not for nothing that 'essayer' means 'to try' - all of my own essays are trials, try-outs, of creative expression.

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