Manual The Poetics of Novels: Fiction and its Execution

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I come from the wrong neighborhood to sell to The New Yorker. No matter how good I am as an artist, they always can smell where I come from. Though Disch was an admirer of and was friends with the author Philip K. Dick , [15] Dick would write an infamous paranoid letter to the FBI in October that denounced Disch and suggested that there were coded messages, prompted by a covert organization, in Disch's novel Camp Concentration. Disch was unaware and he would go on to champion the Philip K. Dick Award. In return for a taste of human blood, which will unlock his ability to write, he makes a deal to go back in time and kill Disch's father, so that Disch will never be born, and at the same time to kill Thomas Mann and thereby to ensure that Hitler wins World War II.

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He shared his Manhattan apartment and a house in Barryville, New York , with his partner of three decades, poet Charles Naylor. Although he was publicly gay after and this facet of his life was occasionally foregrounded in his work most notably in his poetry and On Wings of Song , he did not try to write to a particular community: "I'm gay myself, but I don't write 'gay' literature.

He wrote on a LiveJournal account from April until his death he killed himself by gunshot , in which he posted poetry and journal entries. A Horror Story and the early Disch was an outspoken atheist [20] as well as a satirist; [21] his last novel The Word of God was published by Tachyon Publications in the summer of His last published work, the posthumous story collection The Wall of America , contains material from last half of Disch's career.

It showcased Disch's vivid writing, a stark contrast to other game-programmer-written text adventures of the time, and his passion for the energy of the city of New York. Although the text adventure format was dying by the time Amnesia was released and it enjoyed limited success, the game pioneered ideas that would later become popular in game design by modeling the entire Manhattan street map south of th St. Although the limited floppy disk capacity of the s computers caused much of Disch's original text about the city to be cut, many Manhattan sites and people were described with unique loving distortion through the Disch lens.

Ben-Hur not only told the story of the famous Biblical novel, but delved into the life and times of its author, the proto-American General Lew Wallace.

Disch proffers the theory that Wallace penned Ben-Hur , in part, to assuage his guilt over his part in the execution of Mary Surratt. In its world-premiere performance at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore in , it was chosen as a Critics' Choice by Time magazine. The Cardinal Detoxes had a simple conceit: a Catholic Bishop has committed vehicular homicide while driving intoxicated and is imprisoned in a monastic "drying tank" where he is sure he is being bugged by the higher-ups. So he attempts to negotiate his release by black-mailing the Church with all of its dirty secrets, big and small.

An article written by The New York Times ' Mervyn Rothstein got picked up around the world on the AP wire and the play became one of the most notable censorship controversies of the s. Their response was to lock the theater out of their building and have the Director jailed. Fortunately, The Cardinal Detoxes became as well known for its literary merits as for its controversy. Disch's first published poems, though reaching print later — the first in , though not collected until — were written alongside the stories and novels which made his name in the s.

Although he aimed his poetry at a different readership than his fiction — even simplifying his by-line from Thomas M. Disch to Tom Disch — both genres emerged from the same expanding mind and changing times. His poetry includes experiments within traditional forms, such as a collaborative sonnet cycle Highway Sandwiches with Marilyn Hacker and Charles Platt and Haikus of an AmPart , while others like The Dark Old House mix stricter and freer form. Like other popular American poets, he often uses humor and irony to power his poems. Disch's reputation as a poet was solidified by a midcareer retrospective collection, titled Yes, Let's.

In and , Disch published two collections of poetry criticism. He continued to regularly publish poetry in magazines and journals such as Poetry , Light , Paris Review , Partisan Review , Parnassus: Poetry in Review and even Theology Today perhaps an odd choice for a long-lapsed Catholic. His poetry criticism focuses on what makes poetry work, what makes it popular, and how poetry can re-establish a place in modern popular culture.

Near the end of his life he stopped submitting poetry to literary journals unless the journals asked for his contributions. He preferred to publish his poems in his LiveJournal account. In an interview just ten days before his death, Disch said, "I write poetry because I think it is the hardest thing I can do well.

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And so I simply enjoy the doing of it, as an equestrian enjoys spending time on a good horse. Poetry is my good horse. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. American science fiction author and poet. Main article: Amnesia video game. Edited and translated by Christopher Ecker. A collection of his critical writings. Taking cues from Suvin, we are interested in the combination of specific kinds of words, and how those mixtures cooperate in the production of strangeness. Take for instance Nicola Griffith's "slate" technology from her novel Slow River, published in "Exactly.

A slate stuffed with information. That does not mean that the sentence itself does not maintain an element of strangeness. The combination of words "slate," "stuffed," and "information" not only produces a semantic strangeness for a reader consuming the text before the advent of the iPad, but statistically, this combination of words stands out from the other language around it, as well as from other language in the genre. These are technology words, or words with some denotative association with technoscience, in atypical combinations with words that are not.

It is not that tablet computers have become less strange in 20 years. Grasped in terms of the strangegram, it is our own everyday language that continues to bear out this strangeness. In our first attempts at testing the strangegrams hypothesis, we explored nova as identifiable by strong semantic relationships among a preliminary, constrained vocabulary of technology and what we imagined to be technology-adjacent terms. We used a corpus very similar to the one used for our later experiment see Data.

After our initial -n-gram lists returned nothing notable, we attempted a collocate analysis of words commonly associated with some of the nova we found, and paired that approach with a semantic network analysis that attempted to find similar pairs or triples of concepts present across the examples. For both collocation and semantic network analyses, we searched for term co-occurrences with a window size of 5L and 5R looking five words to either side of the word under analysis , and while we did not include stopped words in our results, we did count them in our window size.

For instance, even though we stopped out the word "because" in our examples, the word "because" still counted toward the value of 5L or 5R when computing distances among terms.

Poetic Justice

Our first results were largely inconclusive. We found that while we were able to observe common techniques in certain subgenres e. The core elements of science fiction posited by Suvin, it seemed, were not evoked solely in specific combinations and sequences of words to make the constituent parts newly weird. The classic example of "the door irised open," while providing an example of a strangegram, is no blueprint for nova or strangeness.

This initial foray into describing nova showed us that strangeness, if it is consistent at all, occurs in a more diffuse pattern and relies on more various narrative techniques than word recombination alone. Subsequently, we expanded our hypothesis about what a strangegram could be. Rather than consider the fabric of SF nova to be specific kinds of technology and non-technology words falling in close proximity to one another, or words in unusual combination, we hypothesized the strangegram as a critical mass of certain words at the sentence level.

Thus, our most recent version of the strangegram concept contains relaxed expectations about word combination. Namely, specific words do not need to occur together as in Ngrams , nor do specific kinds of words need to be associated with other kinds of words as in a kind of collocate analysis. Instead, it is the density of certain words or characters in a moment of the text that help create the strangeness of nova.

The current force of the term "strangegram" invokes the "n-gram" designation used in computational linguistics, but with a crucial shift in the dimension of measurement. Based on a probabilistic language model, the approach to identifying an n-gram looks at groups of words that appear together in a contiguous chain and thus behave as a discrete term e. But the genre effect of SF is not reducible to a single term or even a predictable sequence of words.

The Poetics of Novels

Rather than measuring relationships between words n units apart, the strangegram measures a dimension of cognitive estrangement that is more elastically bounded by what we might term a narrative moment. In this analysis, we use the sentence as the boundary of that moment. Thus, we revise our hypothesis to suppose that nova are produced in a field of meaning among certain words, and that field produces an effect of cognitive estrangement.

As a final clarification, our aim is not to comprehensively describe the underlying mechanics inherent in all strangeness found in SF genres and subgenres; we are sensitive to the potential and real variations in SF across time periods, cultures, and subgenres. We are trying to trace any common symptoms across various subgenres and temporalities, as manifest in low-level features of the text i.