Friday, December 03, 2010

(Here’s a little lost thing, recovered from the snows of Facebook.

I posted a link to this fine summation of Bruno Schulz’s work. Then I thought I’d just praise Schulz, but it began turning into a defence of the fabular. Then, despite that moment’s misgiving in which you think ‘Should I copy this just in case?’ -- I posted. Only to find the word-limit of the comment box had dispensed with half of my posting: the quote from the wonderful William Boyd about his adaptation of Any Human Heart, and my niggling reaction.

So I’ve attempted to recreate this just-lost portion, making a strange, self-enfolding, self-aware structure of this posting, only possible because of the net – but in itself relevant to the point I was trying to make.)

How dearly I love Bruno Schulz. His stories -- along with along with Bulgakov, Pamuk, Murakami, Kadare, Pavic -- made me understand that Borges and Kafka weren't just isolated counter-eddies in the great tide of makie-uppie.

He never succumbs to the slippage William Boyd (someone whose work I admire) implies (and I did get this from the Radio Times!) when he says (and he was comparing the medium of the novel to that of film): '...the novel is effortlessly subjective. Getting inside someone's head, discovering his or her most intimate thoughts, is the easiest operation in the world.'

Despite my provisos, what troubles me here is that this is a version of realism's fable about fiction, that somehow it's (really) just like reality.

Whereas Schulz is always aware that the head you get inside is a construct, in which the author has created intimate thought-like things for a purpose which is both structural and swayed (I might even have said 'skewed') by desire. And that this is the hardest thing to do.

I then concluded that Schulz's fables, by contrast, are not only compelling, but are a more direct engagement with why we are compelled to make things up.

(In summation: convention shields us from desire, and realism and fable offer two ways of responding to that very human crisis: one positions the desired thing, here interiority, at a conceptual arm’s length, so that it can be examined more fully; the other makes a structure which is itself explicitly shaped by the effort to become fully aware of one’s desires.

Realism relies on the suspension of our disbelief, our investment in its fable, and risks losing or at least overlooking the author’s complex intensity. Fable relies on the manner in which that intensity reconfigures representation in the story -- makes birds of fathers, for instance -- and risks the person of the author himself or herself becoming lost in obscurity.)

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