Tuesday, February 23, 2010

“everybody’s got a story”

Take #2

I’m somewhat obsessed by difficulties of narratability, inasmuch as writing for me is inquiry journaling itself, and I have a so-called “clinical” mind nearly haunted by presumption that the story I’m in is obvious to everyone but me, like the fish who can’t see his bowl as such.

I get a compulsion to revise a storyline. I work at it and work at it. “Finally” gaining closure, I then can’t understand how I could have spent so much time doing that. It becomes less about the storyline than my compulsion to write—to “work through” in writing.

I’ve got problems, to be sure: The notion of storyline itself bothers me. If you’re going for truth, does slaving over the narrative line turn it all into mere narrativity?—as if truth gives forth itself without ambiguity or else the giving is a narrative pretense of having transparently gotten?—as if reality has the words that belong to it tatooed into the phenomena, and you either get it or you don’t?

And: Why more fiction? Haven’t all the stories been told?

Is the writer a kind of inquirer, doing problem solving, new problems turn up (writers pretend the world was created when they were born, i.e., that their story hasn’t been told), and ergo another fiction? Perhaps creative writing is inherently therapeutic. “Ordinary” fictions (like those in literary quarterlies—Pushcart candidates, not secret treatments for films) might be dangerous for near and dear readers (mid-page there). So, don’t do the story? Protect the guilty?

Interest in truth competes against others’ interest in comfort and convenience.

No, the writer writes to write.

What’s really going on with the appeal of the omniscient voice? How does the writer know what the character thinks and feels? What a conceit presumed upon the reader. Is this very common narrative stance a legacy of paleolithic storytellers who were channels of the gods? The gods died, but the pretense lives on?

“I personify you. I impersonate you. I inhabit you. I possess you.”

Inasmuch as all the stories have been told, the inquiring mind looks to the archive to find a reading of the present.

A scholar publishes another reading of the endelessly reread work of legacy. But his avoidance of academic “perishing” caused his wife to begin an affair.

A psychotherapist deals with daily boredom by publishing self-possessed stories based on ex-clients—not unlike Irving Yalom did or Amy Bloom now does (though they lack the self-possession).


A NY Times reviewer says of Austrian Peter Hanke’s newly-translated novel, Don Juan: his own version, that “this whimsical tour de force” (odd hybridity) “suggests that Don Juan is his own narration, that he exists purely by virtue of telling himself into being,” which is what an author might feel no alternative to doing after all the stories have been told.
He is not a seducer. His power over women is of a different order, and he does not revel in it; on the contrary, it makes him shy.
As the story goes, it comes to pass that “Time, then, not sex is his obsession. His chief endeavor is to be ‘master of his own time.’…[H]e is not a man, he is a poetic idea….Surely, his ‘own time’ is narrative time, the time of self-telling.” But the reviewer believes “It doesn’t quite work.” So, the challenge is to resurrect the authentic lover, “to hear again Mozart’s treatment,” to have “brio, verve, declarative intensity, a vast range of emotion and, last but not least, brilliant, joyful virility.”

Apparently, the reviewer is nostalgic for a Europe, a man, more secure about one’s place in time.

Well, the review is worth reading. Its capsulation clearly suggests that Handke’s novel has enough enchantment.

(And my life? That would be Take #1, as if without quote marks, confessional.)