5 dic. 2007

Now I have to start writing as though the praise offered me were accurate. Starting next week.


Imagine a composer with severe back pain. She writes a symphony of a certain complexity. Now if a biographer wrote an essay explaining the symphony as the expression of the pain, we might be a bit skeptical. Biographical interprerations like this seem remarkably impoverished: the biographer says "Aha! I've discovered the secret behind the work," but the back pain itself is as banal in and of itself as anyone else's. The complexity of the work is out of proportion to the reductiveness of the explanation. What is more interesting, anyway, the symphony or the back ache?

Now substitute the "emotional pain of having been spurned by a lover" for the "back pain." Is the explanation any better? If the music sounds like "spurned by lover" music anyway, the biographical explantion is otiose. It's a nice romantic back-story for the program notes, but who really cares?

Now substitute an elaborate psychoanalytic acount of the poor composer's childhood. The essential poverty of the explanation remains, but somehow the intellectual respectability quotient seems to rise, because now there is a richer metalanguage in which to dress up the cause. Still, the composer's childhood is like any one else's, pretty much, with the inevitable variations. The music is stunning and unique in a way that the explanation is not.

Put another way, even unique and interesting people often produce banal, derivative works of art. If the life is more interesting than the work, then the reductiveness is moving in the opposite, and wrong direction.

On the other hand, many people care more about the back ache then the symphony, the romantic back-story than the work of art itself.

4 comentarios:

Jeff dijo...

Boy, I hope this doesn't mean that next week you're going to start writing to the broader audience of us poor (as in pathetic, not penniless -- though we are that, too) PhD students who read your blog. Whoever it is you think you thought you were writing for yesterday, I hope you keep writing for them.

Funny thing is that I was giving your blog similar praise to my wife just the day before Scott did publicly. I'm not sure it helps to say that I told my wife I liked your blog, but I did.

The point is that what I like about your blog is that you're writing, you're producing, you're putting down words on your book and not whining about how hard it is or your battles with procrastination. I like that you give occasional updates like "Two hours a day over the past couple of months has netted me half a gazillion words." It's your example as much (or more) than your words. Not to denigrate your words, of course, but though I get lots of advice (of varying quality, I'm sure), I have but few examples. You are an example, which I can watch through your blog. The pressure isn't to write anything different in your blog, but to keep up your admirable writing pace and keep sharing your success.

I hope next week to hear more about the same stuff you've been writing about: Spanish poetry, jazz, your family, and, yes, how much you're writing.

fairest dijo...

It's like Dostoevsky having permanent hemorrhoids. What would YOU have written on lifetime supply of hemorrhoids?

Jonathan dijo...

I'm not going to change whom I write for, I'm just going to try to do it even better. Next week, or maybe next month.

JJ dijo...

I suffer from a lot of back pain due to a car accident when I was a child. When it happened I was in pain for a while but after I healed I had very little trouble until I was 15 and my muscles started to develop, I started getting a lot of lower back pain and have suffered with it ever since. That is until recently when I stumbled across memory foam mattresses. They adjust to the shape and weight of my body to support my back perfectly and let me sleep soundly. I can’t even imagine being able to sleep without my memory foam mattress anymore!