May 6, 2008

Reading Milan Kundera

Have begun reading Milan Kundera's The Art of the Novel in preparation for my own potentially feeble attempt. Kundera works through the historical inception and relevance of the novel and suggests intrinsic imperatives about how the novel can and must survive today. A particularly interesting excerpt talks about the ill-effects of unifying the planet's history, how modern society perpetuates reductionism:

"But the character of modern society hideously exacerbates this curse: it reduces man's life to its social function; the history of a people to a small set of events that are themselves reduced to a tendentious interpretation; social life is reduced to political struggle, and that in turn to the confrontation of just two great global powers."

For Kundera the novel's raison d'être is to protect us (humanity as a whole) from "the forgetting of being". Rather existential, but about as important a tenet as I can think of. To bring about such a force in one's own writing seems an insurmountable task. And Kundera is quick to point out a key source of the never-ending atrocious writing put forth for mass consumption:

"Like all culture, the novel is more and more in the hands of the mass media; as agents of the unification of the planet's history, the media amplify and channel the reduction process; they distribute throughout the world the simplifications and stereotypes easily acceptable by the greatest number, by everyone, by all mankind."

So, if I understand this all correctly, I need to write something original and complex, void of any pandering to mass media or social norms. The characters must have their own existential crisis to deal with, something that reveals the nature of them, not some universal principle for all of humanity.

I believe I've just bitten off more than I can chew. Oh wait...do clichés count as bad?



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4 comments:

Been said...

Larry, I think you have an incedible talent in writing. I have no dought in my mind and heart that you will create something incredible that people too will be buying off the shelves and caught off guard by the inspiration they have come away with. I just thought I'd add that!

Harry Tournemille said...

I see you got the cheque I sent you in the mail. Ha ha. But thanks all the same.

Been said...

Still waiting for the cheque Larry. Maybe send it express next time!:)

Theresa said...

Uh, you sent it to me.
I duplicated it and forged your signature.
Thanks, though!

I'm going to agree with Been. Your novel will SHRED.
You can do it, Harris!!!