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For art!

Turner's Snow Storm at Sea
Snow Storm on Acid

Romantic painter J.M.W. Turner famously had himself strapped to a ship’s mast in order to experience the storm that inspired his painting Snow Storm at Sea (a painting which seems in retrospect to prefigure impressionism). Have you ever done anything crazy in the name of “research” for a piece of writing?

9 thoughts on “For art!

  1. i’ve always done crazy stuff for shits and giggles, then realized later i could write about it. i have a novel in mind that will require me to drive the al-can highway for research, but that’s not so crazy.

    1. Yeah, I think mining personal history for material is a much broader category–one arguably (depending on your definition of terms) impossible to avoid. But the intentional manufacture of scenarios is something that fascinates me. I suppose “stunt journalism” is pretty close to this–and that’s a popular mode right now. But somehow acquiring an experience to measure or record or achieve some internal state, then invoking that state at the point of creation seems a different kind of undertaking.

  2. Very cool painting. I like that it matches the big other logo, kinda.

    I just thought of Gay Talese and his book Thy Neighbor’s Wife. I love how he researched that one. Not that I could get through the book.

      1. I found it pretty unreadable. But I like reading how he classifed going and getting handjobs at Korean massage parlors as “research.’ I think this was in a Paris Review interview.

  3. Before I met my girlfriend, I spent far too long getting my heart smashed to pieces by headfuck girls: spitting off balconies at parties, sneaking into strangers’ houses to fuck on their couches, etc. etc.

    That whole time was brilliant and horrible, but I knew I would get a lot of stories out of it.

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