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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Problems of Representation

I spent yesterday looking at the works of fifteen students. Two main problems: 1.) They don't produce enough work. They try to create masterpieces from the get-go. They just don't have the knowledge base to provide the fludity and voice needed for a decent work. So rather than learning to develop their vision and craft through lots of work, they spend time trying to justify what they did on one picked-at piece.

2.) It's not so much what you write, it's how you write it. It's not so much what you paint, it's how you paint it. Most of the students have yet to figuure this out. And so do many more-mature writers. I started reading Reading Lolita in Tehran -- exactly this problem. If you want a good story, Watch Maury. There's a deep couplet. If you want good literature look for an author able to get beyond the mere representation (plot) and into the way the words work and flow on the page (syntax). Note I'm not talking rules, but sensitivity to and emphasis upon patters, structure, flow, etc. And since Lolita was mentioned, Nabokov did not succeed because of the story. Similar news stories appear daily. Nabokov's novel succeeds because he understood and focused upon just these syntactical elements.