For those who march...

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"Wanderer, your footprints are
the path, and nothing else;
wanderer, there is no path,
the path is made by walking.
Walking makes the path,
and on glancing back
one sees the path
that will never trod again.
Wanderer, there is no path—
Just steles in the sea."

--Antonio Machado

The Novelist as Activist

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Writing is already subversive enough within the context of our broken society. Today, one of the largest injuries is being inflicted on human interactions and language. Within the novel, 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. And as the contemporary self is being obliterated by the continuous fragmentation of attention and time, we need the novel more than ever. 

 

I use writing as a form of philanthropy to empower even the most disenfranchised. That is, our impoverished interactions, and language.

Upon facing each other...

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"For Calixto, to come across a face that had not bowed to agreements was momentous. It was the kind of face that existed unhinged. And he found it by chance at the edge of the Iberian Peninsula, perhaps at the edge of nothingness. He had encountered loose souls before, some who made an impact on him, but this face spoke a different tongue. If a face could will itself into the world, this one had entered many enclosures. And the deep diagonal crevices could only speak of hardship. And for that reason he looked at the face for a long time. He felt tempted to walk down the road towards the river, in search of those people he had met in the past few days. But he did not move away from his landing, he stayed right in front of this man who exuded a questionable smell, but whose face proposed impossibilities."

--Viator

The intrinsic music of towns.

"Every town has its own music. It changes throughout the day, hour by hour, but a certain sentiment remains, a theme. People in the town compose the music, unknowingly, by walking, talking, dragging their pets and children,  making love. To the virgin, the amalgam of sounds may seem like noise, a brutal concoction served raw. But once the nuances are understood, once the delicacies of every whisper burr under your skin, there is no longer noise, but a music worthy of the gods." --The Lesser Violin

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The unknown...

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"Our minds are not opened or closed, like our eyes cannot be open or closed, nor our lives can be open or closed. It is all a matter of acceptance, of facing what the world places in front of us, of not running away from the unknown. Because even when we want to shut our eyes, fold inside our lives, or close our minds, we know the unknown is still there."

--The Striped Tunic

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.

In between "process-" and "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.