Unreal Nature

November 8, 2014

The Idea of Genesis

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:48 am

… Isn’t it rather that symbolism is insufficiently randomized to give account of the real world in its immense complexity? That symbolism acts as a reassurance that the world is small, accountable, inter-referential, echoing, inwardly allusive, the world of childhood where what happened was marvelous or terrible but bounded by the home, the park, the family?

This is from Journal of the Fictive Life by Howard Nemerov (1965):

… The first principle of this writing is that everything is relevant; accidents turn up and later, under close reading prove their right to be here by getting themselves woven into the fabric. The meaning? Well, it may never have a meaning. But the design is constantly making itself over as it draws new materials into its ambit, under its spell.

… I began under a pseudonym, Felix Ledger, whom I had invented as a novelist in a novel and written two chapters or more about, twelve or thirteen years ago. But after a single page in which this person tried to talk in a literary way about novels, he got stuck, and when he picked up the subject again after a lapse of a couple of weeks in despair of ever doing anything again, he began talking about his relation with the art of writing.

… he was constantly divagating into technical considerations, talking about money, justifying himself (myself), being ‘literary,’ and generally altogether a bit too clever. Then he began having ‘ideas’ for novels, or stories. But only for a few days was he able to convince me that he was really Henry James who would really write the stories; I was soon enough able to see that these stories were being invented solely for purposes of obfuscation, and to say, in effect, that a person so very clever as Felix Ledger would never have to write a story at all in order to be loved, admired, and highly paid. Moreover, by inventing stories which I was not going to write, he was causing me some embarrassment.

… The principle that everything is relevant, simply because it comes into my mind, remains the principle of this work, but a principle which must get its justification daily so far as this is possible. It would appear, for example, that my dream-life [descriptions of which this book has many, many pages] is pretending to cooperate in the adventure by supplying an abundance of materials, but really trying to put a stop to it by giving me more than I can handle in a working day.

[ … ]

… An hour later, I return to see if I can’t see this more slowly, spread it out a bit more fully.

I said before that symbolism was ‘suspiciously randomized’; this did not quite catch the thought. Isn’t it rather that symbolism is insufficiently randomized to give account of the real world in its immense complexity? That symbolism acts as a reassurance that the world is small, accountable, inter-referential, echoing, inwardly allusive, the world of childhood where what happened was marvelous or terrible but bounded by the home, the park, the family? The world of religion, too, where what happened was marvelous or terrible but bounded by the situation of the divine drama.

… Doubtless the philosophers can explain (away) such strange constatations of fact, these little mad galaxies far out in space where some intellectual divinity is fooling with the idea of genesis.

My most recent previous post from Nemerov’s book is here.

-Julie

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