Yume No Hon

Dec 12, 17:34 by IROSF
A thread to discuss Valente's novel or Bill Mingin's review.

The article can be found here.
Dec 13, 21:01 by Robert Brown
Sort of a sore spot for me, and my own writing, but why should language always be representational? The bookstores are groaning full of books that straightforwardly tell a story. Why do you want this one to be another? In fairness I haven't read the book, but your critique seems to be missing Valente's point.

I don't see anyhting wrong with changing tenses in mid-sentence, if you intentionally do so. A typo is another matter.
Dec 18, 21:39 by William Mingin
Language is generally representational by nature; it (mostly) has a referent or a purpose. "Car" has a referent; "stop that" has a purpose. Its meaning derives from these functions; meaning is the relation of word to referent (that sounds patronizingly obvious, but it's important and I don't mean it as patronizing). Outside of these functions, language is sound (or, if written, pattern). To me, for the most part, sound or pattern without referent is obscurantist or solipsistic, and either way, unless there is something really startling or magnificent about it, over time, boring.

Not to say language can't be used in other, very interesting ways, aside from strict word-to-thing one-to-one application, to indicate referents that can't be put in words, to point outside its own system. Metaphor sometimes does this; in another way, koans do.

I donít by any means say that stories should be representational; they can be whatever the author wants them to. I will then come to them and make my own judgement, and express it, with the hope that people can then make their own judgement about the work based on what I say about it. For instance, from this review, it sounds like you might want to check this book out. If I read this review, I would know I did not want to.

The distinction I'm making about "should" may seem meaningless, by the way, but to me it's important. I donít tell anyone what they should do. They can do as they wish; and I, by the same terms, can react and judge as I wish. Generally, I think things that are meaningless, or meaningless outside the mind of their own author, are, at any length past a page or so, dull.

I think you're confusing two things a bit and setting up a straw man. You seem to be setting up "writing a story in a straightforward [I'm getting the implication "dull" or "plebeian"] way" against "writing non-representational prose/ not writing in a straightforward way." You can tell a story in a way that's not straightforward, and still be writing essentially representational prose. The kind of prose I'm objecting to doesn't, generally, tell any story, or at least, not in the short term, although some arc of meaning may arise out of it.

I don't see why you say I'm missing Valente's point; I don't think writing non-representational sentences was her point. To my mind, she could have reined in a lot of that and still done the job. I think it would have been much, much harder to write about being beyond the limits of the personal self, of the physical world, of the distinction real/other, in a hard-edge, controlled way; to me, however, it would have been, or could be, much more interesting; really startling, even.

I don't know if the tense change I saw was intentional, but I suspect it wasn't. I have a problem with it, even if it's intentional, if it's so graceless and awkward that I think it's probably a typo.

Let me throw this back to you: what does non-representational prose do? If I can gather no meaning from it, what should I gather? If I can't "understand" it, why should I be interested in it? I'm not talking about the use of nonsense in short forms or even in longer forms, as in Lear or Carroll, or absurdist events in an otherwise intelligible story that also carry a resonance and sense to them; I'm talking about stuff that doesn't mean anything. What does that do? What is its purpose? How much of it do you want to read at a time? I'm a reviewer, but I'm also a consumer. How do you sell that to me?

Bill Mingin
Dec 19, 10:00 by Robert Brown
First I want to be clear that my views have no connection to Ms Valente whatsoever. I have not read her book, nor have I ever met her. I don't want her to be associated with my own views, or cause her to face consequences for my opinions. All of my points are addressed to the review, and the reviewer.

Non-representational writing is like non-representational painting in that, among other things, it expresses how the writer feels about the writing as it's being written. It's not for everyone just as non-representational painting is not for everyone. I don't mean to suggest that I find "straightforward" to be a bad word. Nor do I believe "straightforward" is the sine qua non of writing. It's a big world with big bookstores.

I said you seemed to be missing Valente's point because your review seems to boil down to: "I prefer books of type X, but this book is not of type X; therefore I didn't care for it." Your review suggested to me that Ms Valente was not attempting to write a book of type X, therefore the review seems to me to have missed her point. If my reading of your review is in error, then I apologize.
Dec 19, 21:54 by William Mingin
I did more in the review than simply say, "I don't like this kind of writing, her book is this kind of writing, therefore I didn't like the book." I gave examples of what didn't work and reasons why I think it doesn't work, and these were not limited to the writing being non-representational. I won't give examples, because they're all in the review which is, after all, at this site.

Is there anything else you like or find interesting or powerful in non-representational writing? Because "it expresses how the writer feels about the writing as it's being written" is to me not only uninteresting, but actually kind of odious, and argues a monstrous self-importance on the part of the writer, and something I am not only not interested in, but not interested with prejudice. A writer interested in conveying that sort of thing would be better off with autobiography, I think, perhaps a minute by minute description of his or her feelings. If I knew that was the subject, then I would know to avoid that particular work.

If that's your argument for that kind of writing, then I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree about it. If there's more you'd like to say, please do.

But to come back to the review: as I said, my criticisms weren't limited to that kind of writing, and I gave concrete examples with reasons for what didn't work. I had the feeling, thinking over your initial comments once again, that you came to those comments with a wounded sense of amour-propre: someone had criticised something like what you do, and you felt compelled to defend it. Rather than simply saying, "You don't seem to like this kind of writing; I do; here's why" you defended what you do in the face of my "attack" by invalidating the review as a misinterpretation. You seem to me now to be trying to do the same thing by implying that it's a one-issue review, when it isn't. At least, if you want to invalidate the review, take up some examples and show where I'm wrong.

My suggestion, however: let's not only leave Ms. Valente out of this discussion, let's leave the review out as well. We have opposing takes on non-representational writing; I'm open to hearing more about what you like about it. I read all sorts of things; I might find that something I've read and liked falls into the sphere of what you're talking about, and amend my opinions. Not everything I've ever read, after all, is right at the tip of my tongue at all times. Or I might be persuaded to be more inclusive or consider things differently. The interesting point, to me, is the discussion of a certain kind of writing, and our different takes on it.

Jun 14, 09:18 by perkauruszulla@gmail.com
That is really important information


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