I like this caricature of Paul Auster. I will use it whenever I want to give you some "food for thought" linked to things we debated over in class.
We discussed about some interesting points in "Travels in the Scriptorium". Some of you liked the novel, others hated it, especially for the passages about "bodily functions" and "sexual pleasure". We still need to "dig in" and compare ideas and reactions. Our starting point was to highlight the following trends present in this novel: modernism, post-modernism, dystopia, metafiction, intertextuality. All these terms should be clear by now, but if they aren’t, please let me know. I then mentioned the reader’s theory (reader-response criticism) and Roland Barthes’s essay "Death of the Author" , just to point out the paramount role played by the reader in constructing meaning. We saw that in "Travels in the Scriptorium" Auster involves the reader in the process of investigation and asks the reader to continue the story, finish it, modify it, as the character himself Mr. Blank is asked to.
Yesterday I was reading a book on creative writing and I found this interesting quotation by Hemingway, writing of the practice of fiction. I would like to share it with you since I think it really fits the journey we have undertaken with this blog.
You have the sheet of blank paper, the pencil, and the obligation to invent truer than things can be true … to take what is not palpable and make it completely palpable and … have it seem normal … so that it can become a part of the experience of the person who reads it.
Writing and reading are collaborative acts in the making and performance of space-time. Readers participate; they become, partly, writers. They will take part, consciously and unconsciously, in a literary creation, and live their life in tht moment and at that speed – while they are reading. If matters are left unexplained, untold, then inquiring readers will lean towards that world. Readers fill in the gaps for themselves, writing themselves into that small universe. The reader is active, as a hearer and a witness.
So fill in the gaps, guys, and do not be irritated by the things Paul Auster does not tell us!
When reading "Travels in the Scriptorium" I could find some links with another dystopic novel that I would like to mention and refer to as soon as we get to deal with Orwell, Huxley and Bradbury. The novel I am referring to is "High-rise" by J.G. Ballard and it is a sort of modern fable, a commentary on the hideous possibilities of advanced technology and the rat-like nature of trapped human beings. Just as it happens with Auster, Ballard contrives to unsettle and tease the reader and in the novel unease is created and thus perceived by the reader. Should you have any time and should you be particularly hooked by dystopic fiction, then have a go with Ballard. I can lend it to you if you wish. Ballard defines Earth as the "only alien planet". He is a very controversial writer, if you wish to get to know something about him, click on the link below (BBC Profile: J.G. Ballard talks to critic Tom Sutcliffe about his life and work).
Leave your empowering considerations! I am eager to read some of your responses to this first "food for thought" session. As you can see, there are no guiding questions this time. You can express your thoughts freely!!! I am sure the things I wrote will trigger some "fizzy" reaction.