17 November 2013

Already Getting Redundant

Filed under: Fiction, Reflections — ktismatics @ 5:41 pm

I was going to write a post focusing on three paragraphs in chapter two, in which Stephen Hanley is trying to establish a praxis that’s different from therapy. But then I began to wonder: haven’t I already put this bit up on the blog? Turns out I did, in a blogpost from October 2006. In that earlier draft Stephen Hanley narrated his own story; in a subsequent edit I changed to a third person narrator who in this particular passage conveys Hanley’s attitude via “free indirect discourse.”

Some benefits for me of writing fiction:

How can I make general pronouncements without having to argue for them or justify them with supporting evidence? By having my fictional narrator merely assert them.

How can I revisit my own past experiences without resorting to personal confessions? By assigning them as backstories to my characters.

How can I redeem my own stray threads? By doing it virtually, through the characters’ responses to situations I throw them into.

How can I hold onto my own ambivalences without having to resolve them one way or the other? By having different characters embody diverse and conflicting perspectives that I have held myself.

“What I really want, of course, is to become fictional,” he conceded.

Here’s another benefit:

How can I blur the distinction between what’s written and the process of writing it, between the “made” and the “making-of”? By writing metafiction centering on a character who is a writer.

At first my main fictional characters were therapists and consultants, scientists and mystics, pragmatists and dreamers, activists and recluses, fathers and husbands — my personal loose threads from my life before I started writing fiction. Later I shifted heavily toward writing fiction about writers. So I’m thinking now that this making-of series of posts is redundant. Most of what I want to say about my subjective experiences in writing fiction is already embedded in the fiction itself.



  1. I think you’re a little too scrupulous about such things. I found, at some point in the last year, that I was often redundant, and although not meaning to be, it may mean that you’re repeating what still seems most important. At some point, the redundancies can be edited out, but in the posts about anything on a bleug, it doesn’t matter, and just may mean you’re rethinking it or augmenting.

    Your long previous post was very rich and compelling, I read it a couple of times, but don’t tend to like to comment if I’m just going to give some fucking blurb. I thought it took us much more deeply into what you’re doing, and there was some real feeling of magic to it.

    Also, if you have been redundant on your own bleug, almost nobody is going to remember it save yourself, I know they don’t give a shit on my bleug, and they also have NO IDEA what I’ve CENSORED from publishing in the ensuing days after the 3rd installment of the Psychotic Art-Thing. I consider that a wonderful example of my self-restraint, and it SURE wasn’t redundant (at least in quantity).

    I used to be more of a perfectionist about such things as you are. I always think you carefully proofread for any punctuation mistakes and other typos. I tend to just shove it up there, and then as the hours and days go by, I fix it, and sometimes so lazy just leave the mistake in. I’m a perfectionist about other things, but now it’s only when a kind of planning will prevent a real disaster, not because I care too much if a bleugpost is pristine.

    i’ve read lots of bleugers talk about this matter of wanting the post to be perfect in all its details, and Nick does it too, his almost never have a typo, and he corrects people’s misspellings and wrong usages right and left, sometimes it’s necessary, sometimes not, that’s from being an editor so long. I guess I just don’t. I get to drop a name again, Maria cooper Janis, whom I met once in Penna. where I had patrons back in the 70s. Something was ‘dirty’ that was being referred to, and I said something, and her canny response was ‘Somehow French non-hygiene is different from American non-hygiene’. Of course, I’d know this for years, having lived there, but French non-hygiene is harder to cultivate, since there is sometimes a grace to it (and they always do get around to a total cleanup), but I’d never heard anybody say it, and took it as a nice flirtation (she got ALL of Coop’s looks). So I guess, Nadia Boulanger notwithstanding, who was very non-French in a lot of ways, wasn’t nearly the only one, as you well know, that I learned ‘hygiene’ and ‘non-hygiene’ from in Paris LOL.

    I think the exacting nature of your much more scientific mind won’t allow you to be comfortable with mistakes of detail. I just ‘put off things’ because I know I never put off things till it’s ‘too late’. I heard once that Italians are also especially good at that particular thing, waiting till the last minute, and then pulling literally everything together in a flurry that is brilliant with the finest professional finish. (Ms. Prudente of Steinway bore this out.)


    Comment by Patrick — 17 November 2013 @ 6:06 pm

  2. Excellent: someone to respond to besides myself. My biggest concern is becoming redundant to myself. But you’re right too: I write blogposts glancing back over my shoulder to see who’s watching. I don’t do that anymore when writing fiction, so it feels freer. I’m also reminded of somebody, I don’t remember who, some novelist, discussing his latest book. What are you trying to say? somebody asked him. I already said it, came the reply. So there’s something for me about the fiction itself being a better self-expression for me than anything I could write about the fiction.

    I’m much less committed to instrumental rationality in many areas of my life, including the writing of fiction and of blogposts. While at one time I might have written fiction IN ORDER TO accrue some of the benefits delineated in this post, now it’s more like I look for them to happen serendipitously. The prior post, which I liked quite a lot too, came about this way, with the dream synchronizing with the fictional text I wanted to explore. Today’s post seemed more dutiful, like I had to continue the series to which I’d committed myself. It seemed like I was forcing it, and then when I realized I’d already covered this ground I felt fatigued.

    And as you say the repetition was important to me. I had realized something over the past couple of days that corresponds perfectly with Stephen Hanley’s praxis. He’s trying to avoid the urge to be helpful to his clients, which makes the Salon a more ambiguous and enigmatic project, less likely to attract clientele in any world other than a fictional one. But I too have to check my real-world impulses to be helpful, to present myself in ways that maneuver others into what I deem a good direction for them. This critique of intentional helpfulness served as the basis for my first fictional project: a cartoon series about parents trying to discipline their kids supposedly for their own good. The point of the cartoon was that parents’ intentions might have nothing to do with the actual results of their interventions. So today reading Miguel Opispo’s interactions with Hanley actually reminded me that I was letting myself get too intentionally helpful, too consciously manipulative. Not only is it disingenuous; it doesn’t usually work, at least in my own experience.


    Comment by ktismatics — 17 November 2013 @ 6:44 pm

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