Gaia is the word for "unity-of-life-processes". The experiment here is to unify the various threads of voice and sense of self together into an undivided unity. Spirituality, economics, politics, science and ordinary life interleaved.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Nasty day yesterday

Nasty day yesterday. Flopping from one negativity to another in quick succession has a way of defying the various antidotes that from experience have been found to cure them one by one. In the end I lay down and did some light reading: E M Forster's 'Aspects of the Novel'. Not to be deterred from doing something productive.

E M Forster, bless his soul, has a wonderful and oft-qouted analogy for novel writing. Funny, then, that this analogy, which requires considerable subtlety to apply, is usually mentioned and then forgotten as a novelty.

Forster gets us to imagine that all writers of all time, from Sophocles to Shakespeare to Stephen King, sit around an enourmous round table writing together. He asks us to see all writers writing together, conversing shyly or slyly in the rustling-filled huge hall of Writers Past.

What would they do? Would they have a punch up? Would they have a piss up? Or would they get down to some decent work?

Myself, I suspect they would have an international writer's festival, then replete with nibblys settle down to a good hard panel discussion followed by a vigorous group questioning. Ooo-oooh.

Forster, for what little it matters to my moody day, groups Sterne with Woolfe, Richardson with Henry James, and Dickens with H. G. Wells, to illustrate the variability of tone and style. His point is too gentle:

Duh; we KNOW that writers vary. We KNOW that latter writers take earlier writers into consideration. And that some actively compete against former writers in their pursuit of excellence.

But this is Forster's way of very precisely missing the heart of the matter. Writers write for PEOPLE, not for literary critics. So what Dickens writes from a Victorian audience, and Wells for an Edwardian mob, are too different to properly compare.

This school of thinking is called reader-oriented writing in literary circles. But a more plain spoken age would call it good writing.

So I sulked on these matters until my partner visited. I tried to read Confucius and even he pissed me off. I re-read some of Honore de Balzac's greatest novel, Old Goriot, but soon was overwhelmed by so much disgust as his stylistic faults (personality flaws?) that I started rewriting the first 56 pages just so I could have the pleasure of remembering the story I had read so often as a younger man without the disadvantage of the narrower sense of taste in writing that I have acquired since.

Rewriting the master Balzac's work was an enjoyable outlet for my uppity, cuss-headed, out-dundery darnedness. By the time my mate Alby visited I was calmly rewriting Balzac.

That was yesterday.

Day before I saw Charles Stross' blog, where he speaks about getting a 17 inch iMac. I drooled obligingly.

Today I put up an advertisement for my services as an English Teacher. Hanging out my slate is the best thing I can do at the moment, no less challenging in degree that the process of writing a novel, but a different order of challenge to the book. Which is a fine way of saying that I'm gonna get a real thrill out of having a few new students. At least that'll give me something significant on which to displace my sporadic fits of worry-making.


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