On One Hand

October 3, 2005

Happy Birthday Ani

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 2:06 pm

My creative writing class discussed minimalism in literature, and how writing minimilistically when pertaining to all that is subjective or emotive (putting as little as possible on the page so that the reader makes the image him or herself) is more evocative and effective than writing through statements. I think we were trying to justify ourselves believing in it. What I mean by minimalistic writing is the difference between saying the stated “John was happy,” and the inferential, “John smiled.” The later is more evocative. The more complex the feeling you are describing, the more discrepant the two scenarios become.

I was daydreaming, drawing scribbled skeletons of a school of fish from my seat in the back corner of the classroom, but my mind entered the conversation at one moment. I think I got more out of the conversation from hearing less. I can explain the concept of the value of minimalism good enough, at least, for me. It all goes back to Plato, who philosophized that behind each imperfect physical object is a perfect, ethereal form of that object, that exists in concept but not in reality. No object in reality can be truly perfect – only it’s form, in some other hypothetical Universe, is whole. The classic example is the sphere, but I think more people can relate to this one: think of the way a person’s naked body is much more erotic when only suggested, still partially concealed by clothes. Without hard images to satisfy it, your mind accesses the more perfect form that can only be imagined. When the clothes are removed, no matter how close the body is to the ideal, it is still bound by the material universe so can not reach perfection. The moment of anticipation captures the perfection whereas the attainment does not – this is to borrow something from The Tao of Pooh.

Detailed, “stated” writing places in the reader’s mind exactly what is on the page, leaving little to the imagination. Since everything is laid out, it actually exists the way it is written and is therefore imperfect and material. Minimalistic writing evokes, in a flash of knowledge that cannot be described or explained, that perfect Platonic form. An object evokes a feeling, a moment evokes a process, and a contrast evokes a conflict. As a writer you are not trying to evoke an objective or rational knowledge of the event; you are trying to evoke a very subjective and personal experience, and can do so by not stating overtly what the event is.

As I have said before, I think reading is more of a creative process than writing. The writer lays the framework, the reader creates an experience in his or her mind based on that framework.

I live through experience and believe that gathering experience is the most valuable and powerful purpose of life – at least as far as I know. Experience is all life really is. Sometimes it’s hard to justify writing when I believe that real experience is so much more valuable than wasting time locked upstairs with a book. It seems to work now, considering all of this. What I am doing, by writing, is creating (rather, helping the reader to create) a more perfect experience.


1 Comment »

  1. I love your form analogy with bodies, I had never thought of it that way and it makes it far more realistic.

    I also must agree with your reading/writing thing.

    Comment by nanerean — October 4, 2005 @ 12:24 am | Reply

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