27 February 2002 thoughts about stories

As I walked, thinking about short stories and other fictions, I stopped to write this:

(a) I didn't like even Raymond Carver's stories, or Joseph Conrad's Youth... 'novel' leaves me dead

and then I wrote:

(b) a woman passed telling a story to her companion:

'...if that had hit me on the head it would have killed me'

A bird flies close by me...

And now I'm asking myself why only (b) is nice, and (a) is not? (nice for me, that is)

Later, while eating breakfast, these thoughts continued:

...and even the short stories of Anton Chekhov... I realised that, despite being completely involved by, or lost in them, I don't really like them, for they leave me feeling I've been tricked (by skilful writing) into a false reality that isn't there! ...sorry to write this, but there it is.

So, what doI think is so 'good' about someone 'telling' a story, conversationally, unplanned?

and what is so attractive in Marcel Proust's reading/writing*

and about my recent resolve to be writing/reading**

and about traditional story-teller's tales, and myths? (transmitted without writing)

and enacted rituals, for instance,

even the degree ceremony (which I am dreading)
marriage ceremonies (at which I feel uneasy)
religious services (some I hate, the evangelistic ones - others I like, if detached or sublime)
the artificial church***

And now that I'm home, at the keyboard, what comes to mind?

...That there is something in common to all these examples (even including the realist story-writing that I dislike) - what is it?

Perhaps it is the accepting of the fragility and the abstraction of words and sounds and written shapes as a medium,an intermediate reality, or clay, in or through which we can share past experience, present moment, future wish - all the essential ingredients of living, and its smallest details also (one-bit-at-a-time in linear telling), in a variously re-composed and re-presented fashion (yes fashion too in the sense of fashionable, and equally if unfashionable) all things are includable!...

So is that a clue? That the realist short story, and novel, refuse and exclude vital parts of this catholicism, this inclusiveness, in order to do what? To achieve an economic goal, I suspect, in this age of the prostitution of everything to production and consumption, and to profit. The 'bottom line' (that awful term - I'll slap your bottom teacher if you tell me to believe in it, that crap...O O O)

anger, anger, what's happening?

this is fiction - that means it's real in ways considered UNreal UN UN UN.....(unseemly? incorrect?)

Let it break out, my dear, let it break out!

Later: I won't delete that seeming nonsense, it came from somewhere... but what was I going to say, to write, about all these kinds of 'story'?

I think I was going to say that in realistic stories the writer is concealing the illusion, pretending that the medium (and even the reader) isn't there, that the world and moment of multifarious thoughts is not present, so that, when I the reader (or victim, or production fodder?) have finished reading and become aware again of the world, I realise that it's a narrower world I've been in.

Whereas, if I were listening to someone telling a story (while walking, like that woman who told of the thing that could have killed her) both she and I would be still in the present world of the moment while the telling and the listening happened...?

I don't think I've remembered all I was going to say, or yet explored the examples I listed... Perhaps I'll add to this note if and when...

*His essay Days of reading in which Marcel Proust most marvellously recovers not only the reality of events and surroundings and people but the reality of his thoughts, the fleeting operations of his memory, and of his memory of memory... etc. it's more subtle than that...

**My resolve in digital diary 17 February 2002 :

Yet as soon as the writing gets going - begins to find its form, its topic or thought - it extends itself, everly outward and inward, to include even the contrast between it and its natural surroundings (as topic)... that is the marvel, its ever and all inclusiveness - the wonder and the unboundedness of literature!


I meant this to be my first attempt at writing/reading as an end in itself, and as nature, and as my unifying or connecting purpose from now on - in place of such less connective purposes as design, fiction, plays, creative democracy, softopia, even afternature, even diary... my realising at last that this (to me nearest and even dearest) activity is the purpose, the holy grail if you like, of my long search, my quest. How simple!

***'the artificial church - an essay that became a play' in ..... (quotation re the comparison between theatre and church?)

this note is unfinished... patience please while I gather thoughts... perhaps I'll rewrite it, more clearly, without mistkes, if there are any... (ther was one and I left it uncorrected!... no, two at least...)

digital diary dates


© 2002 john chris jones

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