On Listening

This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series What We Talk About When We Talk About Music

A little over a year ago, someone posted this question on Quora: Why does John Coltrane’s music sound like someone just erratically blowing on a sax sometimes? The short version of my answer, I suppose, could be this: Except with the word “LISTEN” underlined and circled in red pen. But here’s the longer answer that I […]

Delany on “Talented Writing”

Marc Laidlaw recently shared a link on Facebook to a post on “Good Writing vs. Talented Writing”over on Brainpickings featuring some ideas by Samuel Delany. Essentially, Delany draws a line between “good writing” and superior “talented writing”: The talented writer often uses specifics and avoids generalities — generalities that his or her specifics suggest. Because they […]

Coltrane: The Story of a Sound by Ben Ratliff

Ben Ratliff — a jazz critic for The New York Times, among other things — is like Trane in that he comes straight out with what he’s up to, though it might not be right away that you realize it. The title Coltrane: The Story of a Sound, if you look at it carefully, tells […]

A Particular American Fervency? (How It Might Connect to SF?)

I just ran across a really interesting quote on American culture, which was embedded in a discussion of jazz, but seems to apply quite well to American SF as well. Apparently, from 1961 to 1965, a British literary critic named A. Alvarez ran a show on BBC radio where writers talked about the intellectual scene […]