Saturday, August 02, 2008

Elementary Causation

A couple of brief thoughts. I checked out the book "Fall of Frost" by Brian Hall, purported to be a fictional rendition of the life of the poet, Robert Frost. It is interesting to see what gets published these days - interesting, when I can take a break from being depressed. It was one of these vignette type books, with vignettes dating from widely different periods of the poet's life, skipping around. Which led to the melancholy reflection: what happened to narrative? I could not and did not want to read this book, but only skimmed it - an act appropriate, it seems, to this kind of "literature."

It seems to me that if a writer intends to abandon structural narrative, he better have something pretty darn good to put in its place, otherwise he comes across as a postmodernist sneer machine. I was also irritated by the usual bookjacket blurbs "confirming Hall's status as one of the most talented novelists at work today."

An effective use of the time-shift is Russell Kirk's story, "An Encounter at Mortstone Pond" - the delineation of character is strong and the emotional linkage is prepared well in advance. But "one of our most talented novelists at work today" cannot be bothered with emotional and character delineation.

A good fiction writer has the duty of strengthening the reader's grip on reality. Life is not lived in skipped-across incidents. How can this author get away with the pretence of writing a writer's life?

2 comments:

Art said...

Robert Frost breathed clean air, drank pure water and ate food he grew himself on his farm. Most writers today cannot relate to that.

qrswave said...

caryl, ran into one of your comments at my old site today that includes this remarkable quote of yours:

"The symbolic unity and universality of mankind is an idea that we lose at our peril. This idea has been only able to maintain itself precariously within a human race whose overwhelming tendency is and has always been to tribalize. The emergence of an elite skilled in the art of symbolic manipulation thus represents, perhaps paradoxically, the emergence of a new kind of tribe. Those who understand this belong to a pharisaic cult - conscious or otherwise - which knows how to wield symbolism. Those who do not grasp the symbolism principle will not be participating in this new phase of human evolution. Symbolism will be "done unto them" - that is, they will be subjected to the incessant visioning of degraded forms of human being. The people resulting from such propagandistic immersion will be merely literal – rather than fully human – persons. They will literally be ‘lost’ to any real attributions of humanity. The new ‘tribalism’ is thus the production of subhuman beings to serve the machine order of the neo-tribalistic elites."

Brilliant.

I hope that you are doing well.