Thursday, October 06, 2011

Literature of digression?


Here I have been digressing for years and now I discover that there is actually a literary genre called the "literature of digression." Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne was apparently one of them. It was a 18th century novel written in nine volumes. The narrator digresses so much that the main character isn't even born until volume three. Now that is a digression.

I actually read Tristram Shandy in 8th grade. I thought it sucked.

But I digress.

I have never been fond of the term literature. It conjures up too many bad associations for me of literature students dissecting some author's works to determine how it ticks the same way a biology student would perform a vivisection on a rat. Neither the author nor the rat really take much pleasure in either act.

Not that I would consider anything I write as literature. Nor would I expect anyone to study it or perform a vivisection on it. When you peel away the layers of an onion you will typically discover an onion. So you are better off just eating it and appreciating that it is an onion.

I have never really understood why people get PhD's in literature. You shouldn't study literature, you should read it. It is not as if people with PhD's in literature actually end up writing great literature themselves. All they seem to write about is what some author was writing about. But if the author was any good in the first place, he or she wouldn't need some PhD to interpret what they were trying to say, now would they?

Of course, I am over generalizing as usual. I think it is nice that people can spend years and thousands of dollars getting an education to deconstruct the meaning of the harpoon in Moby Dick. The practical side of me wonders how in the hell they make a living with a PhD in literature. I like to read and write, too, but at least I majored in Journalism so people didn't ask me what I was going to do with my degree once I graduated. Most people assume literature majors are going to either teach or be barista's.

 I don't like poetry or creative writing (fiction or non-fiction) majors either. As a rule, I think poetry sucks and teaching someone to write creatively if they don't have talent is like teaching a cat to bark.

But I digress.

Personally, I learned to write by reading. To this day, I probably couldn't diagram a sentence if my life depended upon it. But I know intuitively when something is wrong with one. And I don't need to sit in a creative writing class having eight other "writers" telling me how they would have written my story.

I think constructive criticism sucks.

But I digress.

I guess I've given up on the concept of writing fiction and being a great novelist anyway. I don't have the patience to craft three or four hundred pages of plot with believable characters that don't bore me. I'm better suited to crank out 1000 word blog posts without any deep meaning or point.

It's my art and I think I'll keep it.

4 comments:

Benign Gardener said...

Kurt Vonnegut gave 8 rules for writing a story it's on the wiki Vonnegut page.
The ones that really work are - Start as close to the end as possible. And Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
. But the thing that sticks out to me is that they could finish the story themselves. Which I felt I was doing.

Then there's this guy who wrote complete fiction for his Anthropology Phd at ucla. These were his first four novels. When I reed them I knew it was a digress of medicinal plants, which made it half way though the fist book.
Some fiction is a recalling of what actually happened when an oral tradition reappears in some form of archetypal unconscious eruption into the conscious mind of some idiot who has no help in our modern society.
.

Time said...

I imagine Vonnegut got tired of people asking him how to write. It's been years since I read any of his books. Though Breakfast of Champions will always stand out to me. You've got to love a guy who includes a drawing of an asshole in his novel.

I've always believed that fiction was much more believable than fact.

Benign Gardener said...

Micky Was... shameless plug to guestbook visitors: The Madder Margreta   Wickedly Possessed Keeper of the Forum, I have always loved a good demon expulsion! By the way, after the weekend I had I was seriously considering offering your son $50 to do my shameless plugs for me. I completely understand your hesitation regarding blogging. Personally, I simply blather on and find it quite easy to place the burden upon my readers to make sense of it. I should confess my quiet lurking about your forum has already led me to a preoccupation with Beny’s wisdom. I have already started a compilation tentatively called The Awesomely Divine Aneurysm Blowing Wisdom of BENignjamin. Though I once didn't think I liked the group of souls I was traveling with, things have become much nicer since I've opened my eyes a bit wider and caught a glimpse at some of the others riding on the same bus.  J's Girlfriend  Darling Anxiety Ridden One, I have to admit there were times even I had become quite worried after reading the heavy nonsense on my other blog. For the time being you are stuck with the twisted side of me in the form of this blog. I simply found my serious blog to be too damn serious and I just needed to “lighten up” a bit.  s_e Marvelous Celestial Being, I thank you for appreciating grandmother’s knowledge of worm removal. I probably should have been using her method in the first place as at this point I truly believe her vast understanding was born out of necessity. Regarding my popcorn story, just remind me to never piss you or Margreta off. A mere mortal would never stand a chance against either of you. It is I who should thank you. Despite the fact that I damn near choked on a kernel or two, I found the whole experience quite enlightening. Many thanks for sharing your awesome story as well.
I know I have more shameless plugs to give.  Please forgive me...I have fallen behind.  I am stuck on episode five "Love and the Goddess" of my Joseph Campbell Power of Myth DVD.  Unfortunately, that led me back to my excruciatingly detailed notes regarding my anima encounter which, to be honest, beats the shit out of pay-per-view any day.

Time said...

Is that you Mickey?