Friday, February 14, 2014                                                        Dreadful Joy

Some Thoughts on The Last Legends of Earth

Word and world—legends and Earth. The title began there, six words scrawled on a dream pad in high school, developed into a literary theory in college, and shaped around a narrative strategy that has since sustained my way as a writer: 

The word is precise, the world a majestic mystery—and writers straddle the space between.

In this sense, creative writing is threshold power. The precision of word confronting the mystery of world marks the brink beyond which we need wings.

But the angels of writers have no wings. They have shoulders, and they put them into budging us toward a tar pit of dreams.

Stories rise like fumes from that black pit. Writers breathe them in and write them down—or fall into the pit trying. Down there, writing is just a sticky mess.

Tar is black—but it's not ink. We wrestle angels to stay out of that pit. When we fall, no one hears our cries. Creative writing is an encounter with huge silence.

This deeper silence is the imaginary, the not-there. Kafka (in Reflections on Sin, Pain, Hope, and the True Way) says about the art of fiction, “What is laid upon us is to accomplish the negative; the positive is already given.”

We share a covenant with silence—and as readers and writers, we agree to accomplish the negative. The Last Legends of Earth keeps faith with this covenant, presenting our human drama as an artifact of an alien archaeological dig two billion years after our sun has burned out. Chapters span epochs, posing humanity—full of self-importance and energetic explanations—skittering atop silence adroit as a water bug.

Individual character, culture and human identity flatten before the inexorable change that we call time. Sun and moon, calipers of eternity, measure out our days and months. Looking back over eons of evolution, recognizing that an astonishing 99% of all species that ever lived are extinct, existence feels like negligence. The Last Legends of Earth matches this obliterating reality to the destruction and salvation we find inside ourselves.

We evolved to manipulate the facticity of the world. Yet, the word goes beyond human possibilities. Reader and writer come together to accomplish the negative, to occupy an alternative to the present. In this threshold instant called reading, we bridge the gap of now and never. The neverness of fiction, what never happened, happens now. 


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home