Wrapping up

What I like best with Dobyns’ essay Deception is its simple and direct style. His text is easy accessible, easy to understand and agree or disagree with. Nothing fancy, no profound bottomlessness which so often is the case in contemporary literary theory. Deception is talking directly to me as a reader and writer, not hiding itself behind a veil of impersonal theoretical claims and statements. I would love to achieve a similar bold clearness in my own texts.

A work of art gives testimony to what it is to be a human being. It bears witness, it extracts meaning. A work of art is also the clearest nonphysical way that emotion is communicated from one human being to another. The emotion isn’t referred to; it is re-created. The emotion shows us that our most private feelings are in fact shared feelings. And this offers us some relief from our existential isolation. 

(Stehpen Dobyns, Best Words, Best Order: 10)

6 Comments Add yours

  1. A beautiful and truly significant quotation. Thank you Sigrun, Micheline

  2. …and it is a way for the writer to slow down and examine, to write and rewrite, until the emotion has been given the weight and clarity it deserves. The writer’s emotional life grows in the act of writing, even if there is no reader.

  3. Harold Rhenisch says:

    Here’s some clarity I like (as a student of Beckett, you’ll appreciate him, perhaps, as a student of Joyce)…

    The Constructed Space
    W.S. Graham

    Meanwhile surely there must be something to say,
    Maybe not suitable but at least happy
    In a sense here between us two whoever
    We are. Anyhow here we are and never
    Before have we two faced each other who face
    Each other now across this abstract scene
    Stretching between us. This is a public place
    Achieved against subjective odds and then
    Mainly an obstacle to what I mean.

It is like that, remember. It is like that
    Very often at the beginning till we are met
    By some intention risen up out of nothing.
    And even then we know what we are saying
    Only when it is said and fixed and dead.
    Or maybe, surely, of course we never know
What we have said, what lonely meanings are read
    Into the space we make. And yet I say
    This silence here for in it I might hear you.

    I say this silence or, better, construct this space
    So that somehow something may move across
    The caught habits of language to you and me.
    From where we are it is not us we see
    And times are hastening yet, disguise is mortal.
    The times continually disclose our home.
    Here in the present tense disguise is mortal.
    The trying times are hastening. Yet here I am
    More truly now this abstract act become.

    (From “Malcolm Mooney’s Land”)

    1. Sigrun says:

      Thank you – Thank you – Thank you –
      I have such a weakness for lines like this:

      Or maybe, surely, of course we never know

      1. Harold Rhenisch says:

        I’m glad you like it. He has dozens of poems like this, by the way, but my guess is that he hasn’t been translated … is that right?

      2. Sigrun says:

        You’re right – foreign poetry is rarely translated into Norwegian.

        All the best, S

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