Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Is It Possible to Write Like My Heros Today?

I twittered the following: Imagine being a Joyce, a Kafka, a Proust these days – what chance of getting published?

What chance, indeed?

My desire in my writing is to break the lines on the page. As a mature student, I spent four years studying literature and thought, or philosophy if you have to be so old-fashioned.

Ideas have always motivated me as they have the whole of society, whether it wishes to know or not.

I do not wish to write that which has been well written of before: I want to make people think about the whole process of writing/communication and how culturally, socially and, most deterministically of all, economically defined it is, and how contemporaneous all writing is.

I wish to challenge people’s conceptions about their lives, their views of their lives, their understanding of their lives. There are many books that, very worthily, expand our consciousness, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini provides and invaluable insight into another culture as well as dealing with the universal evil of abuse; Caroline Smaile’s In Search of Adam forensically analyses a compulsive disorder brought on by abuse. Both are important works in that they expand our awareness of the conditions of the world; however, they do not expand our understanding of the world, a world dominated by ideas, especially economic ideas, of how it best functions.

Words and pictures achieve fundamental shifts. They may take years to take effect, to alter consciousness, but they do. Recall the uphill struggle faced by the Impressionists, or Joyce, with his Catholic, Jesuit upbringing (I see similarities), struggling to get A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man published.

What sort of individual today will try? Only the young and brave or the old and tired. I fall into the latter category. In music they, the young, are up to the challenge all the time; but such is the era, revolution has been pacified to become a wholly acceptable way to make money. Hurrah! for the angst of the young, they keep the needles/CD players/iPods turning and the money rolling.

I am not cynical about this age: I am cynical about the degree of manipulation that is ever easier with the advent of the digitial age and the usurption of the individual as they are ever more categorsied, classified, compartmentalised, and filed under W for Who Cares.

Those ignorant of Michel Foucault should read Michel Foucault – start with Discipline and Punish.

Given recent circumstances, the wankers in the City waving their million-plus bonuses in the face of us scrabbling to survive, and at it again, having lumbered everyone with a debt which will take years to eradicate, it is time we, writers, artists and the like, seriously assessed the make-up of the way we live.

I am not talking revolution but examination, Our system still favours the few and the fortunate and, for that very reason, has not resulted in La Terreur because, let’s face it, as writers we want to fit in, be part of the system with the hope we will be the next Stephen King or Margaret Atwood. I was part of the system. I earned shed loads when I was younger. I do not regret that but my ignorance of how 99% of the rest of the country lived. Now I have joined them I feel more secure. I still have friends who earn over a million a year – they think I am a joke. But we all die and a fat bonus does nothing to enhance a corpse;


coffeewithkate said...

Wise words. Maybe we spend too much time aspiring to be a Joyce or a Kafka and not enough time aspiring to be the best David (or Kate) that we can be.

I've never been a millionaire but I have known the luxury of 6 week holidays in the sun and all day beauty treatments.

Now I live in relative poverty scrimping together for Sainsbury's basic baked beans. I can adapt mainly because I originally came from a large working class family struggling through strikes and lay offs.

I've seen both sides of the economic divide and I know that,if I do "make it" it wont be because I've sold my soul or shafted people to get there.

DOT said...

I love you already. It is not our aspiration but the lack that defeats us. We aspire within comfortable, though difficult, confines determined, constrained and ruled by the 'dreaded' others. Our job is to shaft them. Don't you think?

(Sounds rude - take the non-rude reading)

Kingsdowner said...

"I do not wish to write that which has been well written of before"

Elegantly written - I want to read more.
Reminds me of the song
"I don't want to sing about
the things I always sing about;
I wish I could sing about love"

Keep going, lad.

DOT said...

Love - that is the thing. Extraordinary, mundane, a kiss on the cheek. Love. It is the focus of my next book in the guise of an examination of sex. Is sex equable to love? Is love supreme? What is love? A means to survival - if so why?

You should know better than me with your studies. Are we just genetically driven to reproduce and so manufacture ideas of love? Or does just the concept of love, our understanding of something standing outside of ourselves, make love, gives love, gives us a special place within creation? [I am not getting religious - it is a serious question.]