Archive for November 24th, 2009

Writing a work of fiction requires very definite powers of imagination, clarity of written expression, a capacity to capture credible, authentic dialogue, and a sense of place, theme, and well-developed characterization. Great writers are students of human interaction.

They are keenly attuned to the human drama all around them from the most banal to the sublime. They are masters of building tension and, ultimately, resolving it. Much is written about the writer’s craft. One of the most interesting is The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler. He bases his book on the twelve stages of the Hero’s Journey of Dr. Joseph Campbell. I strongly recommend it.

Less is available about what’s demanded of the reader. One thoughtful study is one offered by Umberto Ecco in his book, The Role of The Reader. As I think about this tonight, before turning in, I ask the question: What is the reader’s craft on which the writer is wholly dependent?

Once written, a work of fiction may legally belong to its author, but existentially, it belongs forever afterwards to its readers. Regardless of the author’s intentions, the readers then must make the story their own, and this is where things become especially interesting.

The setting, metaphors, characters, and the unfolding plot line interact in unpredictable and infinite ways with each reader’s life story. In the act of reading, the worlds created are colored by personal experiences, interpretations, and assumptions, and the drama of one’s own life. In the nuances of resonant and dissonant sections of a story are found the relics of history (personal & collective). While the book is fiction, the story in Mind is very real.

As we read, we experience real dread, joy, pleasure, disgust, pain, satisfactions, and disappointments. We come to detest certain characters and love others. Sometimes we are so thoroughly in the grip of the story that we cannot let go of it. We become fans. We await the next book in a series and impatiently anticipate and speculate as to how the story might turn.

In doing so, what began as fiction has become something else: a projection that colors today and shapes tomorrow. Our own emotional palette comes forward, and we become more aware of degrees of feeling. We see our own level of engagement with the story, and we see how our thoughts and emotions originate and then merge into others.

The great story taps into the archetypal realm and provides a pathway for discovery: a journey along the Mobius strip of the Psyche, into itself and back again. The writer, then,  is but a priest officiating at a grand and sacred service to which we are warmly and enthusiastically invited.

Once in attendance, what we get from it is entirely our own. Uncovered between the pages of great books are many worlds, times, and places that become real for us.

The muses move the heart of each writer to reinforce the leitmotifs of the evolving Cosmos so that they come more fully alive in the minds of many.

Every reader finds himself. The writer’s work is merely a kind of optical instrument that makes it possible for the reader to discern what, without this book, he would perhaps never have seen in himself.
Marcel Proust

Thanks to art, instead of seeing one world only, our own, we see that world multiply itself and we have at our disposal as many worlds as there are original artists, worlds more different one from the other than those which revolve in infinite space, worlds which, centuries after the extinction of the fire from which their light first emanated, whether it is called Rembrandt or Vermeer, send us still each one its special radiance.
Marcel Proust

What joyful magic! What power! What grand reverie as we travel across universes of possibility and infinities of space, place, time, and circumstance on our voyage through consciousness.

Happy Reading!

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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