Rax E. Dillon (rax) wrote,
Rax E. Dillon

Since people wanted more...

One of the things that came up in the last panel at Readercon was Beckett's difficulty in figuring out what to write after Joyce. For a Joyce fangirl like me, after all, Ulysses is basically the perfect book, and the book that proves that the written language is insufficient for expressing the depth of human emotion despite the fact that it comes closer than any other. How do you follow that up? Beckett's answer was to write about nothing --- my answer is to focus in very narrowly on specific things that Joyce's broad brushstrokes missed or that we've learned as a discourse (oh god they've got me talking like them) since. Thus, the Simon novel, which is sort of a feminist critique of Dubliners and epiphanic healing (and a couple of other things). Beckett's answer is arguably more awesome --- though lucky me, I get to roll it into my fiction as well. I mean, I don't think you'd have "Will you marry me?" "What's your real name?" without the influence of Waiting for Godot. I should also give the obligatory shout-out to Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, which may influence my characters even more than Joyce. [1]
Here are all of my notes from the Cleverness in Fiction panel, transcribed.

Crowley talks about "A writer's writer" and making the reader aware of the writer's quest to be successful --- pathos if he fails --- George Perec

"To get away with clever is to write a real book while being clever." - Crowley

"Baby Roo" books: "Look at me! I'm jumping!"

Tendency to hinge on a gimmick --- exercise in a particular narrative trick?

Insane readers read syntactically! Like me. Crowley also raised his hand.

"A certain self-consciousness of form... the real subject of the story turns away from the ostensible subject [and] to the way the story is written." - Paul Park

Ulysses as clever. Well, duh. "A particularly glowing success" [The whole panel seemed to find the chapter done as a catechism especially moving. I should re-read it.]

"You recognize throughout the story that the author is winking at you." [but I didn't record who said it, grr]

I guess this is why Searle [fiction workshop professor at UMB] thought I was highly experimental?

Interesting stories can subvery genre trope expectations.

Crowley also cites LeGuin.

Does genre consist of audience expectations? Is it built on cliche?
Raymond Chandler was trying to subvery genre in mystery.
Tropes can be cliche or not depending on usage. Find the right amount of redundancy with the fiction before it.
But Crowley says excessive redundancy can be an effect. Is parody a metafictional game? Yes.

Characters don't know --- play comedy like King Lear.

Tom Stoppard worked with characters knowingly trapped in cliche. Metafiction [refishes?] there.

This twisting is genre expectations is something Nobody Scores is actually really good at. Manipulate readers' expectations with tropes.

Delaney's received language? <--- look this up

"Is the writer reflecting his travails, or is it the text itself?" - Cisco "How could it be different?" - Crowley

So what's un-selfconscious writing? It could just be bad. Molly Bloom? No? OK, so we have an extraordinarily self-conscious simulacrum of non-selfconsciousness. [I think this paraphrases Crowley...]

Potential trap: can be a cage, not just in [theme?], but confined to excessive abstraction.

Craftsmanship: It's a quality that some lack.

Why write this way? Boredom? Calvino says writing itself is so boring he had to make his books different from one another.

Stories work when the form justifies itself by its relationship to emotional content.

Reciprocity! Form and content are not so radically distinct. As you alter formal awareness, the meaing isn't back there, it's being made right now by linguistic technology. Workings become fascinating.

See life as a narrative. "I'm the hero in this room." Same cognate between that and the way books are written. The question of form is empathic, but not abstract.

OK Joyce --- but then Beckett! What do you write after Joyce? He did everything! So Beckett did nothing. He failed. He succeeded at failinf --- became the most successful failure ever. How do I talk about my experience when it's all been said?

Beckett paraphrase: Impotence and inadequacy are interesting topics that haven't been explored enough.

Books where nothing happens. Not a coolly calculated decision ---- pathic, passionate. Form and content connect to each other.

Abstract expressionism vs. representation?

Always responding to things that are a part of you.

Malzberg: Why didn't Coover work?

Eirc: In Memento, the cleverness really mirrors the content. 28 Grams fails?

[1] Come to think of it, a lot of my inspirations/references are plays; there's also some No Exit in there, and a dash of The Cryptogram. I actually had the Readercon workshop two years ago where I took part of the Simon novel (yes I've been working on it for EVER) tell me it read like a David Mamet play --- I'm pretty sure it was a compliment?
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