By Peter Turchi
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Extra info for A Muse and a Maze: Writing as Puzzle, Mystery, and Magic
The virtue of obsession is the power of a narrow focus combined with ongoing investigation and deep contemplation. Like Thoreau’s writing about Walden Pond and Wordsworth’s poems about the English Lake District, the product of devoted attention encourages us to rediscover the virtues of a meditative relationship with our world. The refusal to rest content, the willingness to risk excess on behalf of one’s obsessions, is what separates artists from entertainers. ” But that implies that one knows quite enough.
The two middle fingers are next bent and brought down under the card and round to the front of same, thereby causing the card to revolve between the first and fourth fingers, as though on an axis, and assume the position on the back of the hand clipped between the first and second and third and fourth fingers (shown left). After considerable practice it will be found that all the movements I have just described will become practically one, and the card will apparently vanish from the hand. — Howard Thurston A magical illusion is a puzzle for the magician who, like that woman hoping for a raise, imagines an intended effect (a rabbit produced from a hat that appeared to be empty) and then organizes his materials, movements, words, and gestures to create that effect for an audience.
The writer looks at a draft of a new story only to find it feeling familiar—or gives it to a trusted friend who says, “This is like that story you showed me last year, except this time the sisters are cousins. ” As the friend goes on, excitedly making connections, explaining how every story the writer has ever written can be boiled down to yet another depiction of her relationship with her sister, the writer begins to despair. But reductive reading could make anyone’s work look bad. From that perspective, John Cheever wrote about suburban alcoholics, Jane Austen wrote love stories, and Poe was a madman writing about madmen.