|Clive Hicks-Jenkins, image|
from the rear cover of The Foliate Head
(UK: Stanza Press, 2012)
I’ve always enjoyed bullshitting people. I still enjoy it. --Will Self, interviewed by Jacques Testard at The White ReviewI've been equally unbelieving (albeit good-tempered) about some of the responses. After all, when a death is predicted for too long, methinks there may be too much protestation.
David Ulin, book critic of the L. A. Times, says that Self is wrong (so far we agree, and I perhaps Self does too), and points out that even to have any ideas of lodging a book in historical memory is absurd, given the brevity of life and the deluge of books. In face of such difficulties, the job is "how to evoke experience in a manner that does it justice, that gives dignity to the evanescence, to the ephemerality." He believes that the ultimate vanishing of the evocation and the one who experienced is "part of the point; we’re just creating sand paintings against the void." Ulin concludes,
No, the only reason to write is self-expression, which is by its nature a fleeting conceit. --David L. Ulin, in "Notes on the (non-)death of the book," latimes.comI enjoy his tribute to the shad-fly evanescence of life, but this idea of why we write is wrong. Wrong! Oh, yes, sure, along the way we can say that some evidence of the self (another rabbit hole--what is the self, Mr. Self? Mr. Ulin?) may possibly be expressed or extruded or fingerprinted or some such, but it's not why writers write.
You have to be very cautious about listening to the claims writers make because they are in the business of making things up. In fact, right now, I might just be making things up. Don't trust me! I might be, like Self, "bullshitting people." I might happen to "enjoy it." However, such a thought never flew into my innocent head until I read Self's claim of the same, so you're probably reasonably safe, if (if only!) I can understand what my own reactions are and not trundle off on some possibly-circular digression.
Ahem! End of small digression.
So why do writers (real, sure 'nough writers) write? Because if there is a legitimate reason, perhaps word-twisting and this baggy, odd, changing creature we call a novel really can't die. I will tell you why writers write, and you may laugh at me and go on clicking on links, or you may pause and believe me, as you will. Here is the answer to a hard question (or at least to a much-debated one) in a mere four lines . . .
Writers write because they find joy in playing with words, hearing them chink together and sing, and feeling them marry and meld with what is told. Writers write because they love to make things and so to bring something with the illusion of life and energy out of nothing. Writers write because to make a story or a poem is an act that is true, beautiful, good, and a singular mirror held up to creation and God, maker of the universe (or the multiverses) out of nothing, and to creation itself. Oddly, all this is true whether a writer believes in these elements--play, word-music, sub-creation and creation, truth and beauty and God and goodness--or not.
The end. There. Settled.
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P. S. I've been a bit unfeeling to write another post not many hours after posting an interview meant to help get the word out about a brand new anthology, so please pop down to the previous post and take a look, have a read, buy a book, etcetera!