Saturday, May 3, 2008

thoughts on writing

Larval Subjects wrote an interesting blog entry about style and writing, which has inspired these two aphorisms on the topic of writing.

1) If we perceive that a mode of writing is superior to another form of writing then we have become reactive. In short the judgement removes, or limits, the virtual power of writing as a becoming. For Nietzsche reactive forces negate life, saying no to life, and creating an evil. Modes of writing that are perceived to be abhorrent, difficult, or sub-standard are judged as evil, only to become resented. One only needs to think about how the writing of Baudrillard and Derrida (and others) is resented. For example, if I feel writing ought to communicate then writing that does not communicate is resented. The resentment can even emerge into bad conscious. The writer can internalise guilt if they feel their writing is not written in the correct mode. The effect of judging modes of writing is we stratify writing. Writing becomes a hierarchical phenomenon that is classified into standards. If writing is to function as a becoming that affirms life then experimentation should be favoured. If we give strong preference to a certain mode of writing then we negate life through imposing reactive forces.

2) A demand for communication inhibits writing. When we require communication from writing we are not empowering writing, we are actually negating the virtual power of writing. It is similar to demanding an artist only produce fine art portraits. Communication is only one style and aspect of writing and in some situations communication is not desired.


Lloyd Mintern said...

I notice that Kierkegaard wins your poll of favorite 19th century philosophers. Indeed, the master of "indirect communication." I think the confusion is caused by not separating the motives of writers versus readers. Readers in fact do have a right to want to understand what they read. While writers, as you say, operate between the language and what I like to call "The Fourth Reader" (see my piece on BLACK MIRRORS). It seems Larval Subjects only explores this on one level, ie different styles, when really the question is Author qua author. Many of these post-modern thinkers are in fact trying to communicate by irony and obfuscation.

Anonymous said...

"For example, if I feel writing ought to communicate then writing that does not communicate is resented."

I know what you mean, but I think you got the more interesting point backwards. If writing doesn't communicate, how can it register as writing? It makes a lot more sense to say that it's writing that does communicate that is resented for the fact that it communicates. This is why Freud can (and therefore must) hold penis envy and "what does woman want?" in the same theoretical structure.

After all, those with ressentiment, who are re-active, are active only vicariously. In this case, writing can only be resented (re-activated) if it communicates in the first place. Take ressentiment out of the picture, and stop living vicariously through others and/or letting others live through you, and you still have writing that communicates and writing that doesn't.

In this sense, the difference then stops perpetuating itself, but it hardly goes away. There is still life and there is still death. However, life can go on with living while death can remain dead. Life is nonetheless shot through by death, just like a world of writing that communicates is at best shot through with writing that doesn't communicate. For the herd, it appears the other way around: their idle chatter and cud-chewing is shot through with an appearance of genuine communication, which arises as much through discipline as through experimentation.

Mark202 said...

hi thanks for the comments.


What sort of understanding are you conceptualising for the reader? Is the reader meant to understand the message(s) from the author? Clearly Sartre did not understand Hiedegger's Being and Time. However, Being and Time did create a productive encounter for sartre that motived a desire in him to create and write. i do admit that i like mis-readings/understandings as they demonstrate the author is not sovereign of the text. I tend to read for a motivation to write than a desire to understand the text. Of course, the two are not seperate features and have a complex interplay.


there are some really interesting points you raise, and I will need to think more about them.
I also need to stress a point I did not raise in the post. When i use the term communicate I meant it in a narrow sense, and communicational writing ought to communicate clearly the views of the writer to the reader. It is this sort of normative demand on writing that I find repressive and reactive. It creates a dogmatic image of thought that acts as transendent ideal for writing and lacks to promote an active (material) experimentation. It is the desired ideal goal of writing that i wish to challenge/critique.

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