Friday, April 25, 2008

The Heart of the Mutter.

Story is a core sampling of people in a culture.

The longer and more complex the story, the more striations appear in the core sample.

Story reflects the ping-pong game of a person in a society, responding to what the society does to him and what he tries to do with it. At the same time this game is in progress, the individual is engaged in table tennis with himself, trying to make sense of all those impressions coming at him like a service ace.

If you wish a vision of a particular culture, consider the ways and whys of an individual behaving--or misbehaving--within that particular culture.

The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

The Raj Quartet, by Paul Scott.

The Alexandria Quartet, by Lawrence Durell.

Highly successful samplings of remarkably differing cultures and the individuals who are swimming about in them, trying to find some scrap of flotsam to cling to, treading water on the metaphoric seas of uncertainty and hungry sharks.

Or, consider Antigone, who at first only wanted to bury her dead brother, then was willing to risk her life to do so in spite of the injunction placed by the very person who had the most power to stop her while simultaneously having love for her as his strongest emotional attitude toward her.

Story loses something if it does not reflect a sense of where the characters are suspended in the culture in which they live. Are they bottom feeders? Sharks? Porpoises?

Many writers have gone over the top in their political agendas, Ayn Rand coming to mind but also, to give a fair not to balance, Upton Sinclair. There were times as well when Jack London fell off the tightrope wire. Nevertheless.

Nevertheless, saying we cannot risk showing our politics in our writing is to attempt to write without the most vital organ of all, the heart.


R.L. Bourges said...

I had never stopped to think about Creon's attitude toward Antigone - a totally new aspect for me.

x said...

This is why so many writers from the heart get banished, imprisoned and threatened with death. Or, in this country, simply shunned or derided.