Had great fun running away with language when writing Verses Nature: The Making Of :
The challenge: write a book in the first person. Add: my pet concerns: sex, God, philosophy, family… using language to make statements about language (its functions/limits). Add: the (for me) central challenge of form(s). I do not believe in One. Everything, when analysed closely, will break down into a multiple of things. Like words and their echoes, genres mingle, necessarily. Slutty beasts. I love em. Add: prose, poetry, columns, biblical verse, diary… How many more until the novel breaks? Says who??? Go beyond language. Go, even, occasionally, beyond reason. Gender, too, is not One. Add: calculated ambiguity (how much can we bear (not) to know?). Explore: the nature of our nature. Find: permanent struggle between its (our nature and its favourite offspring: language) various components.
Plain language (no broom-up-me-arse-ish).
Add: more prose passages? No. These would contradict the core statements I’m making via and about language and memory (and reading!) as something essentially knotty, fleeting, shifting; something fragmentary. The novel, my novel, is not simply to be read, it is to be ‘viewed’; the 1-liners, the spacing, invites this. I’ve made sure that none of the entries in Verses Nature exceed one page. That way, you can take them in any order, as though shuffling a bunch of playing cards. I propose notions, not mere sentences. Notions which are as much, if not more, visual than intellectual, thus making prose, by comparison, the dark, broody, overcrowded renaissance painting you wouldn’t necessarily want to have hanging in your living room.
When I was younger, I thought good prose had to be deeply philosophical. Not so. Good prose has to scorch you but not leave you wanting to throw yourself off the next bridge. I don’t need to show off about how many encyclopaedias I gobbled for breakfast. I want you to forget the world for an instant, dive into mine, and not want to leave. And when you do leave, then you should feel new in some way. See the world, your life new, in some way; our ridiculous, amazing life that we could do so much with. Why should I push you jump off a bloody bridge???
What’s novel in my novel, then, should not be limited to the message, or the content, but extend to matters of form as I resist the hegemonising forces of literary typologies.
Can also say: generic conservatism.
Can also say: phenotypical purism.
I speak of alchemy, of mutation, of dissolving membranes. Of smudging. I seek to re-place, displace, dishevel, deconstruct and, ultimately, democratise our beloved literary templates.
Can one speak of language in a single language, Derrida asks? The answer is no. Nothing is only ever one, but internally teeming. The novel, as genre or phenotype, is teeming with other literary forms. I want the forms I select to copulate like beasts – sex and cum everywhere. And I have created just the beast I need to bring this off. Tatar.
I now need to edit The Making Of to suit the academic palate so it will be accepted as part of my doctoral thesis. That will be less fun. I said it before and I’ll say it again: you can’t run away in research-speak. Why? It’s not your language to run away with (in?). Not even in a Ph.D. in Creative and Critical Writing. Pity.
Lessons to learn, if only the system is prepared to. I think I know which version will be read more, don’t you?
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