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Central Europe Review
Killing the Buddha
Web del Sol
[W r i t e r' s N o t e b o o k]
The writer does not, intentionally, go to the outside of the castle walls and dream of a new castle. He finds himself, at times, in the deep forest and must dream himself to the center of the castle and is permitted to do so as long as he learns about the castle rather than try and destroy it.
He loves the life between the forest trees and the castle walls.
Everything contains vitality and decay and the art of life is to extract the one, drive out the other, and put vitality at the center where it can thrive.
Rather than sprawling novels that hold no one's interest it is better to produce something of extraordinary compression
SOME NOTES ON THE PROPOSITION: THE MEDIUM MUST BE BUILT
What is needed is the desire to build and create things; then, "principles of construction."
How do you grapple with America? It can be a large and angry beast but all its people and systems, dreams and aspirations, can be experienced through the region.
The man of letters arrives when he sees the female in a positive light and demands that she fulfill her potential.
There is a dark night of the soul; those who avoid its pains end up as killers.
Rather than project into empty sticks we would rather go out in the real world and accept the behavior of others as evidence of their truth. "I will begin from the endpoint of your manifestation."
Personally I assumed long ago that the novel was not dead but rather had become a wild weed, proliferating out in the hot dry fields for the benefit, not of literature and the novel form, but as raw material for the movie and TV industry. Thousands of novels are written and, apparently, read but then, thousands of crimes are still committed each day and thousands of young children get sick every year.
Every novelist has the desire, I assume, of writing like Balzac or Dickens. That is, an accurate portrayal of society with characters everyone knows showing, in between the lines, what everyone is doing. That was the great central fact of the novel, the heart of it. Now it is either mere words or mere stray thoughts an individual who calls himself a novelist may have, some of which entertains enough people to keep him in rent money.
The world has devised other ways for the society to get to know itself and, while not as comprehensive as a novel, it seems to work ok. One of those forms is the modern biography. Another is the medium, TV, which presents multiple channels showing every variety of life, in situ, often.
A novelist then must become a truly creative being, an epic poet for instance. A Milton could thrive today because the age presents ample time for the development of skill and mind and has enough surplus to support a Milton. Whereas it won't support a Dickens because Dickens is in the employ of a TV or movie studio, his talents crushed in the studio hierarchy that has the writer near the bottom and the lascivious actress (who can't spell her name, not even when she's not doped up) on top, calling the shots. Any writer who accepts this as a good thing is not going to produce the quality work anyway.
It's ironic that the modern novel rose out of a protest against niche tales like romance novels and is now a niche form untended and unloved.
Writers complain that they live in a very unliterary period of time, dominated by sight and sound. The market is dominated by sight and sound, corruption and pro wrestling, tobacco and junk food, yes, it's all true. But, it's filled with marvels and its filled with the necessity to move into the future. If writers would sacrifice something of their obsession with the present and its temptations and focus on the future something of significance could be done. The writer has to take on the myth of explorers and be there first, however painful it may be.
Forms come and go. The novel was very strong for a two hundred year period and has declined for many decades. It happens throughout literary history. Literature is Protean and the writer reads the tea leaves adroitly and changes. It's the literary system that is way behind in the learning curve since it is dealing with rewards and punishments, reputation-building and reputation-destroying. These things, apparently, move books through the market. The writer shrugs his shoulders.
REFLECTIONS ON A HISTORY BINDER ETC.
It is a good thing to get a map of the globe and imagine the development of life from the beginning to the present. A profound continuity is interesting to contemplate. America forms another sort of history, one that replicates the world history in a short amount of time. History and conscience would make a lifelong study no doubt. History reveals stand alone objects, paranoia, events among other paranephalia. The ways of life of people are rolled under by progress but survives in many forma. Technology and capital have changed history for good and we vector away from our ancestors in ways we haven't fathomed yet. We must connect with them on a deeper level, one that feeds our common humanity, one that roots us to the daily life that we must have whether we want it or not. The fact that we fly around in jets and drive cars and use computers and credit cards makes our culture and civilization different than those in the past but the people using the jets, driving the cars, using the computers and card are pretty much the same. They fly, drive, compute, and buy with the intention of effacing the ties with the past but it is useless to do. The flying, driving, computing, and buying belong to a collective civilization and not to a person. In fact, we may be worse persons by the fact that we rely so heavily on the collective effects of technololgy. Don't fly, don't drive, don't compute, don't buy and see what is substantial in life. When you find the substantial than you can fly, drive, compute, and buy. That looks to be true in some faahion.
The growth of the citizen was not a harsh thing; with sharp and abysmal changes but a gradual and certain change from one state to another connected all together by the tendons of rich memory.
What inspires one about American history? The revolution and Constitution would be one. All of the sincere attempts to stop or protest againat slavery through the Civil War. The inventive period between 1870 to the turn of the century, to flight. The literary attempt to form an identity of America through Emerson, Whitman, Hawthorne, Melville and the rest of them. Explorations through different epochs. Baseball. Fighting and defeating the totalitarians of the 30's and 40's. Adventure into Space. Expanding opportunties for all people, inclusion, protection of minority rights. Cleaning up the Environment.
© 2002 David Eide. All rights reserved.