Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Writing It or just writing-About-It

The Big Problem with so much writing is that it is merely About and not he thing itself. And this applies especially in the kind of area that I write... about: Alienation and that stuff.

Because when someone writes About, they alienate. Even if they are writing about overcoming alienation, about future possibilities such as Final Participation - the writing in which this happens is just more of the usual stuff...

This is a great difficulty with a writer like ST Coleridge, or Rudolf Steiner or Owen Barfield when it comes to the development of consciousness and the overcoming of our alienation; they are writing-About the subject, and the prose itself causes that which its content aspires to overcome.

Just like this.

It is what is preferable about, say, William Arkle's aphorisms - they are themselves what they urge us to become.

Yet, they are also unclear, ambiguous, easy to misunderstand... But then again, what isn't?

William Arkle tried both approaches. In Geography of Consciousness he wrote About, in a science style, using analogies from Physics; in Letter from a Father he wrote directly the thing he wanted us to know.

Barfield attempted to do this in his fictions and Platonic dialogues, but I could not say that he was very successful; since they often read as dramatised essays; and when they don't it becomes difficult to recognise what they are trying to do.

Modernist writers often try to achieve the participation by making the reader 'work' to understand or simulating the stream of consciousness (which we are supposed to participate-in) - but generally they simple become incomprehensible unless 'decoded' by highly alienating methods. 

CS Lewis was at times successful in the Narnia books - successful at doing rather than just telling us about; and in this sense they are a greater achievement than any of his prose. At its best the Screwtape Letters attains something similar, in that we enter into and identify with - rather than simply leaning-about.

But we need metaphysics now, more than anything; and metaphysics needs to be participated not just known about. In the end each can only do it for himself; but it would be of great value if a text itself-exemplified the metaphysical thinking it advocated.