Ptarmigan

a grouse with completely feathered feet

3/22/2005

Kristin and I are going to be in Erie until Tuesday night, so our internet connection will be spotty at best. Not that my posting lately has been all that. It will be good to see my family and I love them dearly but...Erie in March is not fun weather wise. It's going to be 40s and raining the whole freaking trip. Aside from familial stuff, I hope to get some good semi-monastic writing time in and play Super Nintendo...all...day...long!

I wanted to talk a little bit about this criticism that arrogant, pretentious writing involves only "writing for other writers." You see this criticism, or covert forms of it, a lot in neopro hangouts. What's most frustrating about it is that it assumes as a baseline a deep antipathy toward pleasure in writing itself. It also assumes as a baseline a deep divide between The Fiction Writer and The Ideal Reader. That writing and reading are almost two unrelated activities.

But aren't most if not all readers, in some capacity, writers as well? I'm not saying this to be flippant. But my mother writes me letters; my father writes little notes in his St. Augustine tome. The point is that language is everywhere. Both writing and reading are two sides of the same social currency. This has a peculiar historical resonance in science fiction, where many writers have come up from fandom. There is no such thing as a "general reader". And general readers have rights in much the same way as corporations do; that is to say, in the not-very-helpful abstract. This notion is used as a bludgeoning instrument to exacerbate arbitrary divisions between writers. In Peter Middleton's essay "Dirgibles," he says something interesting about poetry that can easily be applied to speculative fiction: "With 'accessible' poetry the obscurity of history and intersubjectivity in poetic form is obscured, so that a false confidence can distract attention from the harder questions."

And there are a shitload of harder questions. We inscribe emotion in our stories, but how? Are we going to achieve a Platonic project through Aristotlean means or vice versa? (More on that in another post, hopefully?) How this is done in a speculative sense is not unfathomable, but the surface has only been scratched.

(ps. I think science fiction is, or can be, a form of melodramatic Language poetry. And I mean that as a compliment. I like melodrama.)

4 Comments:

At 3/23/2005 11:03:00 AM, Blogger David Koehn said...

Erie!

I spent every christmas there at my Grandparents house until I was 16.

We also had a cottage at out 7 mile creek on the Erie shore.

My grandfather's speed boat was docked at Presque Isle yacht Club.

Was an assistant teacher at PGSA at Mercyhurst College.

Strange to think of Erie...fishing for Perch. Fish fry and mass.

 
At 3/24/2005 12:43:00 PM, Blogger Paul M Jessup said...

Hey I live in Erie Myself right now. Not a native, though, but my wife is. We even got hitched in a medival wedding on presque isle. Check out the new Moonsense Cafe, it's on upper peach near the mall and where Books Galore is. It's a great new hangout, and very much apprecaited in filling in the void of Barnes and Nobles and Borders.

On the post you made, well, I ended up rambling for a bit and instead of eating up your comments with my verbage, I posted it in my blog-> http://pauljessup.blogspot.com

 
At 3/25/2005 03:33:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yea, in my writing group, we get people who have all these strange ideas about writing too. I think that if you don't like to write then you shouldn't. There's a lot easier ways of getting famous these days like going on a reality show. Taking acting classes and learn to be annoying or something.

I hate people who write books b/c they want to write a movie. Take a screenplay class (I did, it was fun) and start writing screenplays. Why bother with a book at all?

As for money, I-banking is how it's done in this town (philly). Go to an ivy an take up business. Working in Mikey D's got me more money for my time than writing ever did.

So there's a lot to be said about those who think that writing is a pain.

I liked the idea that said that everyone is a writer. I saw a retarded argument about whether one was a read "Writer" or not. What the hell does this mean? Pick up a pen and you are a writer. The problem is that people don't have clear vocab on the hierarchy. And people love hierarcy. Call yourselves pros of nebula candidates or GrandWizards of Dungeon Masters or PhD's or something. Whatever.

When people ask me, I deny being a "writer". When pressed, if they are interesting enough, I will admit that I occasionally write fiction. If someone just writes in their journals and goes around saying, "I'm a writer." That's ok w/ me, too.

Anyway, enough rambling the point of this was to prove the point of the parent which says that writing is fun. Writing this was.

As to the Erie peeps, props to ya. I'm a native as well.

 
At 3/26/2005 12:15:00 PM, Blogger Scalljah said...

At 5 past Tuesday
celebral lunatics
talking of relevance
on the art boards in cyberspace
gather sound,
claiming to make the patterns of exchange
they create
into a number of truths
which frame a commitment
to concrete expression
by anchoring sense in earth bound images
within the context of modernity

I listen
transfixed
hypnotised

by the weight of voices

and
test a theory of how
to picture
meaning

by measuring the
relative length of each syllable

with its syntatic sense
and
the
degree
of assonance
cossanance
and
alliterative value
when
spoke
to
life
by
a
poet’s breath

 

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