Saturday, April 26, 2003

gluttony, thy name is dean

Having successfully completed a series of projects for a client, Pipe's creative team assigned to projects was invited (by the lovely May) to pig out at Trinity, along the Dampa.

The Dampa is a wet market where fresh seafood of all sorts can be bought. Trinity, one of the resutarants there, then cooks it in whatever way you request (steamed, buttered, fried, whatever). The enormous volume of food (you order by the kilo) is enough to make any glutton clap his hands with delight.

True to form, I prepared by not eating breakfast - and succeeded in eating myself into a near faint.

Yes, Virginia, sometimes you have to say "screw the waistline".

literature of knowledge and the literature of power

I was very happy when so many of writer and artist friends joined in the mini-"workshop" I find myself conducting for writing. Again, a disclaimer: I am in no way saying that my way is right, blah blah blah. Now back to the point.

It is interesting to acutally find myself in the mood to dust off the little literary criticism I've picked up over the years (which I've ended up couching in my own terminology because it is easier for me to understand and remember - but the core is the same, to the degree that I agree with whichever given mode of thought). I need to do so to be able to explain certain points about writing.

I believe in the combination of theory and practice as the means to improve one's writing. Theory because you need to know what you're doing (it is an ill-informed writer who does not understand the metalanguage of his craft - which is supposedly something he loves to do), and practice because head knowledge does not equate to good writing (and of course we're talking about literature - what's the difference? "Silas Marner" is literature, "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" is not - and yes, it is okay to aspire to writing something of literary merit without the fear of being accused of pretension.)

We, as authors, need to seek improvement in terms of effective and powerful writing.

I subscribe to Thomas de Quincey's distinction between the literature of knowledge and the literature of power. To paraphrase, the purpose of the literature of knowledge is to teach; the function of the literature of power is to move. The first is like a rudder, the second is like an oar or a sail. The first appeals to discursive understanding, the second to the higher understanding or reason. An encyclopedia instructs in a didactic manner, but a great play or story moves by appealing simultaneously to the emotions and the intellect, also teaching but in a totally different way.

We need to move away from the pedestrian and yearn to create something that moves.

And it all begins with the fundamentals.


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