I get scared sometimes. It’s true! Not often, but sometimes. And I’m not talking about your garden variety “scared” — you know the type, the tiny “fears” we experience every day, from “I’m scared I’m going to be late” to “I’m scared I’m going to fail this exam [or lose this contract, or whatever]” to “I’m afraid they’re going to run out of tickets for the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises.” No, I’m not talking about these weak, watered down versions of fear. I’m talking about the primordial stuff. The type of fear that comes along and tenses your muscles, if you’re lucky, and prepares you for action; the kind of fear which, if you’re unlucky, paralyzes you and leaves you at the mercy of whatever predators might be lurking around the corner and in the dark. I’m talking about that fear which makes your heart pound and finds your skin suddenly saturated with sweat… Continue reading
Category Archives: Philosophy: Theory & Practice
The current project is to try to codify, to some extent, a theory on the creation of fiction. Here I’m concerned with the foundations underlying the creative process. By “foundations,” I do not mean “style.” Sartre says, of style, that “[e]veryone invents his own, and one judges it afterward. It is true that subjects suggest the style, but they do not order it. There are no styles ranged a priori outside of the literary art” (Sartre 323); and I am inclined to agree with him. (The issue of style, like most things, shouldn’t go unquestioned — but we can can come back to this later.) What I’m concerned with now is authenticity.
I’ll start by laying bare my presupposition which is that there is in fact a telos to the creative process. There is an end to be achieved here; there is a reason why we write fiction. The telos is something I’ll have to leave somewhat vague for now (though we will come back to it in part two of this essay series). I do want to say something about telos now, however briefly. Sartre claims that “the function of the writer is to act in such a way that nobody can be ignorant of the world and that nobody may say that he is innocent of what it’s all about” (ibid. 321). Sartre here seems to be implying that there is some sort of truth which the author has access to which is conveyed to a reader through the medium of fiction. We can agree with this, provisionally. The question of which particular truth, if any, an author is supposed to reveal will have to wait until part two (there we might also encounter the question of whether “truth” has any value at all). With such questions, we’ll find ourselves in the most interesting of company…For now, we can content ourselves with telos broadly conceived as “truth.” So the current topic of discussion, then, is how one ought to go about conveying truth. Continue reading