• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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But Everyone Knew Her as Nancy

When I wrote poetry, I loved revising. It’s was almost spiritual, certainly obsessive, intense, all consuming, counting the beats on my fingers, the breaks, looking for loopholes and chutes, for a current of air. No, that’s not right. A lot of smoking, a lot of bathrobe. A lot Chinese Food. Typing on onion paper. White out! Titles always came easily to me. How many letters? What’s the word for? Rilke, Rimbaud, Roethke. I’m trying to find the thread. Trying to push it without pushing it. Is that the key?

Can you manufacture emotion?

11 Responses

  1. No. Ew.

  2. I can kid on I’m being sincere. But then again, I am a guy.

  3. “Can you manufacture emotion?”

    No. But with skill and practice, you can harness it to your purposes. You, too, could be president.

  4. Hey, there are AI dolls being programmed to emote – witness A School for Good Mothers or the just released movie M3GAN (which I would dread to watch.)

    I think the word manufacture is chilling, like robots being taught to feel. So what if the words don’t bubble up right away. Sometimes they pop up unsolicited in the night. Ultimately, to stir up emotion, touch, instill, pierce the heart — isn’t that what art is supposed to do?

    • I gave GBT Chat a try and found it pretty underwhelming. Choosing a topic I know well, I asked for 1000 words about Chekhov’s “Gooseberries,” generously leading the witness with much of the answer contained in the question — increasingly so in four requests. Each request produced a result on which, if I were grading the paper for a student, I would write: “Dude, I don’t think you read the story.” (If it helps any about M3GAN, her creepy dance was performed an extremely talented kid wear a mask. It made me feel better anyway.)

      • This patient came in yesterday talking about what AI is—the ability to write code. He explained that AI will eventually be able to code so quickly that, with exponential growth, it’ll be trillions of times smarter than us in seconds. And the smart thing to do is eliminate humans altogether.

        There’s always some guy from the back of beyond willing to mansplain the doom that awaits us, and this guy gets everything he knows from Wikipedia, but still. Yikes.

  5. Not exactly. But while in the process of writing, emotions do creep in and, noticing this, you may decide to tweak a word or phrase. You may change the color of the sky, for instance, or mention the way a blanket slips off the curved shoulder of a sleeping child. Your mother’s incisors. Your hero’s decelerating heart. I dunno. Isn’t it all manufactured?

  6. Not realistically.

  7. Yes.

    Isn’t that what writing is? (I think to Averil’s point) There’s a manufactured story (or poem) with manufactured characters who emote manufactured feelings. Does it grip you, incite you, excite you, make you cry? They’re words on a page, and that – and the emotions they create IS real, and it’s also ether.

  8. My caffeine wore off hours ago, so I was foggy and unable to tell if your prompt was asking (a) can a poet manufacture an emotion in herself that will help her get a particular poem written well, or (b) can the poet through clever revision manufacture an emotion in the person who reads her poem, or (c) does the deeply satisfying, rational and mechanical craft of revision necessarily replace real, raw, unedited, expressive, lyric, authentic emotion, with artificial (manufactured) emotion. My three tentative answers are (a) probably, (b) definitely, in some few readers, and (c) no.

  9. Is evoking emotion the same as manufacturing it?

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