November 16: a rudimentary toolbox

In literature the consciousness of the writer can only do so much. Most of the best material seeps up through the unconscious. In ‘Beyond the Pleasure Principle’ Freud suggests that consciousness provides a protective shield that numbs stimuli. What he means is that only when material is teased out from the unconscious can a writer gain access to a mysterious, more resonant, more rewarding world.
Claude Simon says much the same thing in his Nobel address in, what was it, 1986. He explains that when he starts to write, the initial intention is immediately modified by the act of writing. The unconscious takes over, the effect being, as he puts it that “le resultat est infiniment plus riche que l’intention” (“the result is infinitely richer than the intention”).
All the novels I like defy contemporary ideas of the well constructed text with its dull notion of a story arc and its insistence on the primacy of planning and knowing everything you are going to write in advance. If you totally understand your own text as a writer, you are working with a rudimentary toolbox.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s