Friday, January 6, 2012

Material for the mind factory

At yesterday's poetics class with J Neil Garcia

1. He said: Anti-fiction fiction (i.e., realist, cf Margaret Livey) has made our literary world smaller, in that we expect authors to write of experiences of their own--i.e., no more Gustave Flauberts who can claim to write Madame Bovary; the use of the "I" point of view also demands this, somewhat. It feels funny to us when an academic tries to write from the point of view of a, say, security guard, or maid. It seems inauthentic, now that we demand authenticity.

And so those who wish to reclaim the other worlds silenced by our dedication to realism turn to fiction that pretends to be nothing other than fiction ("fiction-fiction"), i.e., the tale, for example, or magical realism, speculative fiction. The imagination has an out, an excuse to go wild, because, well anyway, it's not pretending to be real in this mode.

Thank you, J Neil Garcia; thank you Margaret Livey.

2. He said he caught this on Oprah--Some eastern thinker comforting a woman mourning the death of her disabled son in a freak accident:

"We often think we are humans undergoing a spiritual experience, when in reality, we are spirits undergoing a human experience."

Not quite Catholic doctrine there, but I can see why the thought was so comforting, enabling the woman to let go of her grief and move on.

Thank you, JNG, thank you.


  1. Oh my god, that quote... so beautiful.

  2. Di ba, J? I think you would love listening to his lectures.