Friday, November 07, 2008

the imperious phantom waving on the other shore...

julien gracq manuscript page

"contrary to what happens in a poem, if language guides and inflects the fictional adventure in the midst of being realized, it is never at its origin. there must be a certain state of lack, an urgent and radical dissatisfaction. an impression, or a complex of impressions, that has yet to be given shape and that nevertheless obsesses you like a real memory - something as precious and demanding as a forgotten name that you try to retrieve but that never existed, and that will be the book - is no doubt the fuel that feeds the literary motor. the winds and currents, that is, the fortunes, that make language sail, often decide the itinerary: but no one ever set out on an unknown sea without an imperious phantom waving on the other shore, impossible to dismiss. the difficulty specific to fiction is a haphazard compromise with ever-changing elements to be made on every page between a container without a plan, which is the spontaneous production of writing, and a plan without a container, which is the instant appeal of the tone that is sensed and still has no material support, for which an instrument must be found and furnished, which will be the book.

the tightrope that the novel walks over unsteadily must be held solidly at both ends. if everything is controlled by a too-specific, too-articulated plan, the entire work will stiffen and slip into fabrication; if everything is left to the potential of pure "textuality", everything disolves in speech without resonance or harmonics. the narrative is the refusal of pure chance, poetry the negation of any defined and premeditated will-to-write. you must agree to move through this deceptive chairoscuro, to go constantly from following paths to clearing paths. this cannot be done without a masterful sense of direction - in every circumstance and encounter - which is one of the novel's major gifts. across initially unimaginable landscapes, which only getting under way can bring about, the novelist must never lose sight of his own specific organizing North.

does this guiding magnetism act as imperiously from one novel to another? i do not doubt for a second that, for two novelists as different as stendhal in the charterhouse and alain-fournier in the wanderer, the materialization of an internal music, impossible to capture except in the deployment of a wider ranging narrative, was their sole concern..."

excerpt from julain gracq's book reading writing, published in 1980 in france, and now available in english translation. gracq is an incredible writer of fiction, mostly known for the castle of argol, and i believe this is his only book of essays translated into english. there are some incredibly beautiful texts regarding poetry, memory, language, cinema, and even landscape...

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Blogger ArtSparker said...

My first association was a memory palace equivalent of the Winchester Mystery House.

But in this description, there is still some negative capability in the mix.

12:50 PM  

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