Re: truths

From: Canela (
Date: Sun Feb 13 2000 - 12:55:11 PST


> what it tells me about writing is whatever I imagine it tells me about
> writing. I try not to do too much of that because as soon as I'm thinking
> about writing as a subject, my mind is off of what I've read. And onto the
> academic subject of writing, which is a totally different thing.

    ef once told me that this list is about process, not product.
My question was more in that vein. I should have asked, "What does this
tell you about the process of writing?" Or, more specifically: "What
does this tell you about writers?" In any case, I was just being wry.

> I like a movie where I'm not walking out saying, that was a great movie, but
> where I'm walking out not saying anything. Still in it.

    I take your point.

> And I think the only way something like that gets created in the first place
> is where the person doing the writing or acting or movie making is
> fundamentally "in it" instead of somewhere above it trying to push some
> arbitrary aesthetic idea or manipulating characters and audience.

    Some things are inspired, yes; other things, notsomuch. You've
pointed out that voice is powerful and important to you. I'm in
agreement with you, on that. But voice can be "manipulated," and not
necessarily because the aesthetic idea is arbitrary.

> Sure, it can be done -- that's the world of technique. It's proven
> effective. But it will never have the power of intuitive connection,
> spontaneity, and identification. It's the forebrain at work. Not the being
> at work.

    Again, I agree with you. Still, not all "truths" will sponsor
"intuitive connections." Not for every reader, audience member,
whatever. Hell, I don't even get the canonical "classics." I mean: I can
see where structure, technique, et al., may be historically potent, in
some instances, but a great deal of what we are asked to teach year
after year as "literary staples" really miss the mark for me.
Fortunately, as academe groans and grimaces through the inclusion of
"diversity," I get shunted off into a separatebutequal little enclave.

> I may not be answering your question here because I probably don't
> understand it. Or maybe what there is to question. You wrote something.
> There it is. It exists.

    Not much to question, no. I was playfully answering your assertion
that you would "rather just listen to Canela write than haggle over
whether it is or is not classifiable as 'fictions,'" because you
"already accept it as REAL." That's a wonderfully kind thing to say, yet
"real" is so slippery. And flawed.

> Totally different subject. Perfectionism. Perfectionism is the result of
> early exposure to great fear (like in abuse).

    Perfectionism is certainly one possible effect of trauma (exposure
to fear, abuse, etc.), but certainly not the only potential sequela.
Many people who are exposed to trauma don't survive at all, or survive
minimally. Others create defense mechanisms to supercede what has gone
before. And the results vary.

>You want to avoid it
> afterwards. Therefore things have to be perfect. Unfortunately the
> prefectionism masks the internal mistaken learned identity between love and
> pain/drama/violence. You learn the shape of love from your parents and you
> then practice it on your lovers. Either as victim or victor. Of course the
> perfectionism (and logic system) absolutely deny you the consciousness of
> that fact -- you hate your early abusers (just as much as you seem to be
> hating your present ones -- where are they all coming from?) and wouldn't
> think of being abusive yourself. (Often by changing the modality from
> physical to emotional) Naturally you drink and drug attempting to put out
> out the fires with gasoline. You wash your wounds in it and you burn up your
> mind with what pretends to be anaesthesia.

    That happens sometimes, too. Sometimes not. Although what you
describe is pretty textbook, yes.

> The only way to get out of the whole mess is to get into something entirely
> different. As long as you drag your history with you, rather than revering
> it (yeah that's right, that's real separation from it) as the means by which
> you come into present awareness. Not draggging it with you DOES NOT mean NOT
> experiencing, remembering, talking about, thinking about, writing about, or
> feeling the feelings connected with it. It means not taking responsibility
> for yourself in the present with the full wisdom of your experience. Letting
> the condemnation you were first subjected continue to drive your approach to
> yourself and others.

    Which, for me, says a lot about writing.

> Not recognizing the sacred nature of human existence. Which is that you are
> not-other-than all potential, all history, all which came before, and all
> which will come, focused together, into this one irreplaceable moment.
> Forgetting that.

    Yes. But. I think I'll have to agree with ef that what you're
calling "this one irreplaceable moment" is the only time in which I am
me. As for the rest, when I'm writing about things gone by, well, that's
a re/presentation, a shaped truth, a fiction, in which the first person
who-was-once-me is told, or the person-who-is-now-me selects a voice, a
style, a structure through which to disclose.

     Or, more simply put, John's right: I'm a liar.

    But only, as Mark has suggested, in the realm of the literary. The
rest of the time I'm abrasively authentic. True story.


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