Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Wizard's Curtain

1. Nothing is what it seems.

2. Appearances are questionable, illusory.

3. Narrators, whether fictional, essay, or blog, are open to question until they prove themselves reliable, at whih point they become boring.

4. Boredom makes the reader rebellious. (Look what it did to Emma Bovary.)

5. Boredom makes the writer rebellious. (Look what it does for Tom Wolfe.)

6. Some writers are so bored that they fall asleep before becoming rebellious, as in John Updyke.

7. We approach boredom tentatively, hopeful of magical transformations and alchemy.

8. Magic, transformations, and alchemy are illusions, variations on a theme of boredom.

9. Toto arrives bored, turns his attention to the Wizard's curtain.

10. We see the Wizard's apparatus.

11. However ingenious it may be, it's intent infuriates us.

12. Angry readers throw things such as books, magazines, fits.

13. Angry readers are good at remembering grieances and writer's names.

14. It is always better to disturb a reader than anger a reader.

15. It is always better to disturb ourselves than to anger ourselves.

5 comments:

Lee's River/Zlatovyek said...

Amen.
And the choir kept on singing
http://fr.youtube.com/watch?v=EcNN5SEb-Kg

TIV: the individual voice said...

Too much anger, too little disturbance in this quarter. Waste of energy.

David Rochester said...

Hmmmmmmm.

I think I have something to say about this, but I'm not sure what it is, just yet.

So while I'm trying to figure it out, I'll say instead that I didn't think anyone but me still remembered Joyce Cary. Personally I'm a fan of Herself Surprised , but I did very much enjoy The Horse's Mouth. I also really liked the film with Alec Guinness ... I thought it did quite a fine job of capturing the spirit of the book.

David Rochester said...

OK, I think I'm somewhat clearer regarding what I wanted to say ... which is something of a question of semantics, I believe.

8. Magic, transformations, and alchemy are illusions, variations on a theme of boredom.

10. We see the Wizard's apparatus.

11. However ingenious it may be, it's intent infuriates us.

I think I have a slightly different take on this ... magic, transformations, and alchemy aren't illusions. A transformation is a transformation. "Real" magic isn't an illusion, either ... conjuring tricks certainly are, but magic isn't. And if alchemy worked, that wouldn't be an illusion.

The problem with the apparatus behind the Wizard's curtain is that it is, in fact, an apparatus devoid of magic. Certainly much bad and uninspired writing is also like this; a creaky facade painstakingly designed in hope of creating a certain effect on the audience.

I realize that's exactly what you're saying. I just think that at least for me, there's an additional point in there somewhere, which says: We keep looking for magic because sometimes we find it, and when we do, we forgive the world.

I know Robertson Davies agrees with me, at least. There's a world of wonders out there.

Shelly Lowenkopf said...

David, we appear to be connected by the magical hubris of like minds. My favorite mantra is Look for the miracle in small things.

As you noted, I was after the faux magic in The Wizard of Oz, which title I use as a paradigm for story in one aspect of teaching. A thing that is called magic and isn't is a betrayal of the imagination. A thing that is magic and not recognized as such is a clear case of short-sightedness on the viewer's part.

See you around.