Camus and the novel of ideas.

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"A novel is never anything but a philosophy put into images. And in a good novel, the whole of the philosophy has passed into the images. But if once the philosophy overflows the characters and action, and therefore looks like a label stuck on the work, the plot loses its authenticity and the novel its life. 

Nevertheless, a work that is to last cannot dispense with profound ideas. And this secret fusion between experiences and ideas, between life and reflection on the meaning of life, is what makes the great novelist." 

—Albert Camus

Viator... thinking in words.

"A multitude of minds had no other purpose but to imagine. And imagination had the power to render the world anew, to uncover the unseen. And in the process of uncovering, risks would be taken, maybe language would be forged. And the forging of new language meant we had a future, in the words, in the inventiveness of the minds that write, and think... in words." --Viator

Rainer Maria Rilke on writing...

"In order to write a single line, one must see a great many cities, people and things, have an understanding of animals, sense how it is to be a bird in flight, and know the manner in which the little flowers open every morning. In one’s mind there must be regions unknown, meetings unexpected and long-anticipated partings, to which one can cast back one’s thoughts…" --The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

Clarice Lispector on writing...

“I'm afraid to write. It's so dangerous. Anyone who's tried, knows. The danger of stirring up hidden things - and the world is not on the surface, it's hidden in its roots submerged in the depths of the sea. In order to write I must place myself in the void. In this void is where I exist intuitively. But it's a terribly dangerous void: it's where I wring out blood. I'm a writer who fears the snare of words: the words I say hide others - Which? maybe I'll say them. Writing is a stone cast down a deep well.” 

--Clarice Lispector

Who is the real liar?

Fiction does not lie because it does not represent things as they are but as they should be. Our current government lies because it represents things as they are not, but pretends they are really this way. I prefer fiction.

Playing in the fields of the word

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The relationship between a reader and a narrator is as intense and emotionally complex as any relationship between that reader and another human being. The slow accumulation of the soul of the other, a satisfying human need, occurs in the turning of pages and the deciphering of life as rendered by prose. The novel provides an intercourse with selves, albeit imagined, but just as real. The author creates, in short, an image of himself and another image of his reader; he makes his reader, as he makes his second self, and the most successful reading is one in which the created selves, author and reader, can find complete agreement. The convergence of text and reader brings the literary work into existence. Thus, reading causes the literary work to unfold its inherently dynamic character. The literary work is something like an arena in which reader and author participate in a game of the imagination.

Roland Barthes on pleasure vs. bliss.

"Text of pleasure: the text that contents, fills, grants euphoria; the text the that comes from culture and does not break with it, is linked to a comfortable practice of reading."

"Text of bliss: the text that imposes a state of loss, the text that discomforts (perhaps to the point of certain boredom), unsettles the reader's historical, cultural, psychological assumptions, the consistency of his tastes, values, memories, brings to a crisis his relation with language."

--Roland Barthes

I'm going for bliss...

 

Nothing to say...

According to Robbe-Grillet, “the genuine writer has nothing to say. He has only a way of speaking.” And I feel calm in anticipation of those words. Words mean the world when the world means little to me, which is all I can say.

The novel and the Avant-Garde

According to Umberto Eco, “contemporary culture is a culture of avant-gardes. ... because every avant-garde is the negation of a previous avant-garde.”

Thus, it used sometimes to be argued that the next stage in the history of the novel was always an anti-novel, which in turn became the novel that had to be countered with another anti-novel. But this seems not to be true. There is a long history of avant-garde fiction, which never ceases, as it should on this theory, to be avant-garde.

Therefore, what kind of cultural work is a novel doing? is a question that should be more frequently, and more complexly, asked of writers and critics of avant-garde novels.

Why "process-" instead of "product-based" fiction.

According to Nathan Hamilton, there are two general modes in UK & US [fiction] ... one is a product-focused aesthetic, the other is a process-based approach. The product-focused aesthetic relies on clarity of context, presenting self-contained, more or less complete thoughts and evincing a concern for descriptive accuracy when considering the external world. It is, to caricature slightly, occupied with realizing recalled events, sometimes through memory's distorting effects, while keeping failings of language under discursive control. This is often also called 'mainstream.’ Its weakness is that it can rely too heavily on rhetorical commonplaces, or conceits, and can easily feel naively decorative to the more philosophically concerned, or sentimental or even redundant in its efforts to describe the outside world convincingly. The process-led approach ... is concerned with [fiction] as a way of speaking about the world that simultaneously presents the difficulties of doing so. To the young contemporary ear, being too 'product' in approach can end up sounding pompous or over-wrought; old hat. Too experimental or 'process' focused can seem solipsistic and, again, but differently, over-wrought ... So, we have a popularizing neo-surrealist ironic school in evidence, growing out of a collision between the 'product' and 'process' approaches outlined; a [fiction] of the absurd, ironizing, meaning-making, which in fact one can find moving and meaningful, allegorically.

The need for 'Defamiliarization'

According to Shklovsky, “the purpose of art is to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known. The technique of art is to make objects 'unfamiliar', to make forms difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception, because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged.”

         So in these caustic times, given the tumultuous reality we face all around the world, we must create. And it does not matter what we create, but it is imperative to subvert and defamiliarize that which is impose upon us.