July 11, 2009

Notes on Literature (Unfinished Manifesto)


- Vulnerable Writing, moments of jarring tenderness, that something (but what exactly?) is at risk, that in the writing itself there is a sense of risk, the writer does not take a safe position high above the action but is down in the fucking middle of it all, hands dirty, against (yet still unavoidably complicit with) the strong complexity of the worlds stupidity, cruelty and incompetence. Critical, yet in league with curiosity and joy.

- An open vessel that lets everything in: every kind of research (to be used for both quotation and plagiarism but nothing in between), things read, heard, seen, done, thought, suffered. The narrative does not exclude any kind of material, the narrative is a giant magnet that draws every kind of material towards itself.

- Not particularly autobiographical. Bringing oneself, ones entire self, all of ones observations and understanding of the world, headlong into the task of fiction. But why not autobiography? Because there is this cursed desire to bring in so much more of the world, to bring in things beyond what one can ever individually experience.

- To reject the “stench of literature”, to know that writing can be so much more than “good”.

- No to straining for effect, yes to insights heartrendingly gained and stated simply, or not so simply. No to the carefully placed phrase, yes to words and sentences that follow one another with the unexpected thrill of great conversation. No to precise historical detail, yes to pure invention and the vividness of the present moment. No to the big revelation at the end of the book, yes to the revelation that books and life are inseparable.

- What does it mean for literature to be “about” something? How can we mean this differently?


1 comment:

amanda said...