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des
Posted on Saturday, August 28, 2004 - 03:16 am:   

Jusr re-worded the main website:
http://www.nemonymous.com
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des
Posted on Sunday, August 29, 2004 - 11:43 am:   

My greatest love in fiction is the 'Horror/Dark Fantasy' core that I find in most sorts of literature, old and new, literary and otherwise.

For me, this core should be and is being expanded by the current vogue in fiction genre-crossing and genre-betweening (Interstitiality), i.e. acting like a magnet, and making other fiction traditions conducive to the 'Horror' spirit or, as I would like it to be called, The Ominous Imagination. Indeed, I believe, most good fiction is (and has always been) imbued with and steeped in this type of imaginative spirit, in any event.

This is really what, when articulated, I have been trying to do in ‘Nemonymous’, especially if you ignore its radical aspects of Anonymity etc. for a moment. All issues contain stories each of which are representative of a different fiction genre/tradition as well as stories that, actually within themselves, contain various genres/traditions -- but all, inevitably, with the Ominous Imagination.

Those who publish genre-specific outlets in the Horror fiction field, for example, perhaps allow the hard-fought beach-heads of 'Horror/Dark Fantasy' to crumble and separate out, thus allowing these particles of fiction already gathered for the 'Horror/Dark Fantasy' core to escape from that core because such genre-narrowing outlets tend to crystallise that core AS a core rather than as a magnet.

http://www.nemonymous.com
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Tamar
Posted on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 06:14 am:   

I don't know, Des. You'll probably cite this as an exception to your rule (and I notice that you carefully say "most good fiction," allowing for a plethora of exceptions)but - where is the horror in Jane Austen?
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des
Posted on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 06:30 am:   

Underlying Jane Austen, there is a most vicious wit ... and, of course, Northanger Abbey. But, yes, you're right this is one of those exceptions... ;-)

I love Jane Austen, btw. Call me a Janeite! And I love Anita Brookner who has more ominous imagination than JA. The ultimate ominous imagination is, however, Ivy Compton-Burnett. I shudder even to think of some of her books of manners and family life. Really evil! She's Robert Aickman without the surrealism and magic realism.
des
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des
Posted on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 07:27 am:   

And, of course, I forgot: Elizabeth Bowen. My favourite writer full stop.

Handily, yesterday, I happened to post one of my brief published pieces (To The North) which mentions Bowen and Compton-Burnett here:
http://weirdmonger.blog-city.com/

Also, if anyone is interested in reciving an attachment of, for me, a brilliant chapter by Elizabeth Bowen (from her 'To The North' novel) please contact me at:
bfitzworth@yahoo.co.uk
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des
Posted on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 09:18 am:   

Jane Austen, again. I think she is interstitial, as recognised by the adaptation on TV of Mansfield Park (with Harold Pinter).
Her books seem to hover between emotions beneath the fundamental (undercurrents pointing towards gentility and lack of gentility, social manners and a burgeoning fight against such manners etc) - and between genres (eg gothic and comic in N Abbey) (between literature and romantic fiction) etc.
Jane Austen consciously writes about what she knew but ended up implying lots of things she didn't know -- accidentally, serendipitously, synchronously.

She also seems to straddle high and low art, the essence of Interstitiality.

Also Interstitial is defined as binding things together etc., -- and Jane Austen, more than any other writer, I feel, binds so many vastly different types of readers together, both by her actual books and also with the Jane Austen influence & industry and archetypes (eg. films, TV series - and the tourist industry in Bath that I saw for myself a year or two back).

The ominous imagination, Tamar, can only extrapolate that she is a Horror writer manqué. ;-)

des



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Brendan
Posted on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 12:46 pm:   

Jane Austin interstital? Wow!

Personally is what I find attractive about her is her pacing and her ability to make everyday situations very interesting. Many horror writers on the other hand can load their books full of blood and bizarre things and still manage to write boring stuff.

I think it was Samuel Johnson who said that Johnathon Swift could write the Life of a Broomstick and make it interesting.

In other words, for me, what makes a piece of writing interesting has much more to do with the writing itself than its "genre" or content.
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Tamar
Posted on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 03:26 am:   

Couldn't agree more, Brendan.

Des, you will enfold everyone in your cloak of darkness... Maybe the fact is that, if you write about life on any level, it has to be horror. As Flaubert said, "What an awful thing life is, isn't it? It's like soup with lots of hairs floating on the surface. You have to eat it nevertheless."

On this basis, even the brightest comedy is horror manque.
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Rhys
Posted on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 03:39 am:   

"Oh Mr Darcy! My upper middle class teacup appears to be fabricated from crinoline!"

I loathe Jane Austen... Had to read her for English A level... Can't believe she wrote during the Napoleonic wars but didn't include a single cannon in her canon.

Having said that, I doubt that a cannon woven from lace would do much damage against a charging hussar.

(Just my opinion, of course, so feel free to tell me that I'm wrong, even though I'm not... and best wishes to all of you...)
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des
Posted on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 05:33 am:   

Not enfolding everything in a "cloak of darkness" - but that all good fiction is at last coming home.

It is arguable that Fiction is *always* about Horror, disguised or interspersed by humour or romance or absurdity/fantasy/sf or so forth. The ominousness may not be immediate in all cases but, eventually, it has that long-lasting effect for any reader (often by the very subtle surrealism of the art of fiction itself or suspension of disbelief or extraploation of plot repercussions into the future beyond, say, the novel's end or ...).

By corralling overt Horror into a genre, one polarises that genre and it does not benefit, by literary osmosis, from its potential wider readership who, at heart, read fiction for the durable 'Horror' aftertaste, even though such readers do not even admit this to themselves.

I agree with Brendan about Austen etc.

And, Rhys, having met you a few times, I can really imagine you as a character in a Jane Austen novel.
des
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des
Posted on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 08:26 am:   

And, relevant to the hosts of these Boards, who publish all sorts of good literature - and call themselves NIGHT SHADE. Good on them.
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Tamar
Posted on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 10:02 am:   

I'd never discount or dislike a writer purely on the grounds of what stratum of society they happen to portray. All that carries weight with me is how well they portray it.

So far as cannons and lace crinolines are concerned, it doesn't strike me as equitable, if a reader lacks interest in the fabric of women's lives, that he should expect women writers to be interested in that of men's. But you have my best wishes too, of course, Rhys.
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Brendan
Posted on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 11:00 am:   

I think Jane Austin is one of the best writers in the English language. Her books are about as near perfect as you can get.

As far as the "everything is horror" bit. I really disagree. Maybe everything is comedy, maybe tragedy, but certainly not horror. Horror for me means something that is frightening and the best writers seldom frighten. The problem with labelling is that it is a sort of indulgence in conceptual thinking, and what makes great art great is its non-conceptual elements. Flaubert is great far more for what he doesn't say than what he does. And the same can be said for generations of fine writers.
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Brendan
Posted on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 11:04 am:   

And to all those who agreed with my first post: Thanks. I love it when people agree with me! It happens so rarely!
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des
Posted on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 11:35 am:   

Everything is horror, but it depends how you define 'horror'.

I couldn't agree more with Brendan's:

"The problem with labelling is that it is a sort of indulgence in conceptual thinking, and what makes great art great is its non-conceptual elements. Flaubert is great far more for what he doesn't say than what he does. And the same can be said for generations of fine writers."

But I don't think it conflicts with anything I've said.
des
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des
Posted on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 12:10 pm:   

I think a better way of putting it: 'Horror' is Default.
I prefer The Ominous Imagination to the word 'Horror'. But Horror, in fiction, does cover subtle ghost stories as well as gruestrutters - even before my brainstorming start to this thread tried to widen it out. des
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Brendan
Posted on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 01:58 pm:   

I guess then it comes down to personal definition. But if it is all horror, then everything is the same, and we have returned to a sort of ultra-dense single point of literature where everything is represented by a solitary syllable or letter or point of darkness like the one at the end of this sentenc. Of course then we still have the magnetic monopole problem.



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Rhys
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 03:43 am:   

Jane Austen certainly counts as horror... I felt depressed having to read her and that depression made me feel anxious and that anxiety soon became panic -- which is a form of fear... and fear is what 'horror writers' attempt to induce...

But seriously I just find Jane Austen's prose style a bit stiff compared with the prose style of (for instance) her near contemporary Fanny Burney and many other female writers of that period (Charlotte Dacre as another example).
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Tamar
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 04:14 am:   

There's no poetry in it, that's for sure, though to my mind it has a wonderfully poised ironic tone.

Anyway, you're in good company, Rhys. Charlotte Bronte couldn't stand her!
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Brendan
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 08:52 am:   

I don’t think her prose style is stiff. I think it is very lucid. It has a certain nobility to it that has never been achieved by any other writer in any language. For English manners, Austin is the champion, just as Crébillon fils is for French. We can understand English upper-class life better from reading Austin than from any other writer of fiction the period - and the only non-fiction authors within a hundred years of her which can be stylistically called her equals are Samuel Johnson and Thomas Carlyle. Outside of the Latin authors (Sallust, Quintus Curtius, etc.) these three are the only I would call "stylistically impeccable" in any language; and of these Jane Austin is the only one who writes fiction.
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des
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 09:21 am:   

Brendan, your post above is one *amazing* statement.
des
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Brendan
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 09:53 am:   

Thanks Des.

I would like to add one footnote: I am not sure that the criticism of comparing Austin to other female writers is valid. It seems better to me to simply address an author as an author without worrying about the sex issue. Writing, after all, should not be like the Olympics where women and men are divided into different categories.

After all, in Nemonymous . . . :-)
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Rhys
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 04:38 am:   

I've never heard of Crébillon, but now I have an urge to seek out this author.

Jane Austen certainly excels at the psychology of character interaction, which I guess makes her a very good writer by the standards by which literature is judged. Maybe the fault is mine: I don't require profound character interaction in fiction (I prefer it in real life). I just find her work boring -- there's no passion in her books, not even cold cerebral passion...

Was it Mark Twain who said that two authors he couldn't bear to read were Edgar Allan Poe and Jane Austen? That's an interesting combination!
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Brendan
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 05:47 am:   

Yes, well, it all boils down to personal taste. There are many "great" writers who I find boring. Proust is once for me. (I can see Des wrinkling his brow now.)

For Crébillon fils, my favourite books is The Wayward Head and Heart. His stuff set in France I like a lot more than that with a Thousand and One Nights type program.

Of course you might find him boring too. I was reading a history of French literature a few years back and it referred to Crébillon as "unreadable". But I have heard the same said of Villiers de l'Isle Adam and the Goncourts.
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Tamar
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 06:07 am:   

I love fiction which explores the psychology of character interaction, more, perhaps, than anything else - and I guess that's what I enjoy most about Jane Austen.

It's interesting that Rhys mentions the lack of passion, as that was precisely Charlotte Bronte's complaint: "She does her business of delineating the surface of the lives of genteel English people curiously well; there is a Chinese fidelity, a miniature delicacy in the painting: she ruffles her reader by nothing vehement, disturbs him by nothing profound: the Passions are perfectly unknown to her... Her business is not half so much with the human heart as with the human eyes, mouth, hands and feet; what sees keenly, speaks aptly, moves flexibly, it suits her to study, but what throbs fast and full, though hidden, what the blood rushes through, what is the unseen seat of Life and the sentient target of Death - *this* Miss Austen ignores... Jane Austen was a complete and most sensible lady, but a very incomplete, and rather insensible (*not senseless*) woman, if this is heresy - I cannot help it."
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des
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 08:06 am:   

One day, I enjoy Proust, the next day Pope or Dryden, then Stephen King, then Jane Austen, then perhaps Tamar Yellin/Rhys Hughes/Brendan Connell ...

What is all this about limpid or dense prose, characterisation/plot or not, passion or not?

Fiction is mood-driven (all imbued with the ominous imagination). A writer has to be 'ominous' so as to reflect this default in all their readers... even their jokes, joys, absurdities reflecting this default (perhaps temporarily cheering the spirit but eventually deepening the spirit with the essence of that real life some call fiction).
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Neil A
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 09:04 am:   

Hi, all. Interesting conversation.

Brendan, I understand what you mean regarding the gender of an author, but I don't think it is something that--when considering a serious writer, exploring the human condition--should be taken into account. I do not think a man, certainly not in the day and age she was writing, could have produced a work relevantly comparable to Austen. Like Rhys, and possibly for similar reasons, I've steered clear of her so far, but can appreciate her sense of humour.

As an aside, Rhys--do you know of any female authors working in a similar vein to the OuLiPo. I've not come across any I can think of, though I know there are plenty of capable women mathematicians and architects, etc. That wholly practical approach to writing and emotion seems peculiarly masculine to me.

PS, Tamar. Not sure if you saw my review, but belated praise for Genie. It was my favourite story in Nemo #3.

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Brendan
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 01:43 pm:   

Hi Everyone,

Interesting quote Tamar. Still, I can't help feeling that Bronte herself missed something. After all, there is plenty of passion in Jane Austin. It is just not as gushing as in Bronte and others. The latter speaks of Chinese fidelity, and I agree. But Austin also has something else in common with Chinese writers, and that is subtlety. What is implied is always more forceful than what is dragged out into public and stripped naked.

Neil: I disagree about the fact that a man could not write something comparable. Balzac wrote several books that dive deeply into female psychology - and probably as accurately as any woman. By the same token George Sand has written a few novels from a male point of view that certainly don't betray femininity.

I think it is the job of the writer to throw her or himself into other ways of being. Some, like Hemmingway, have been able to avoid this by building a "voice" and sticking with it. But most of the giants - Balzac, Joyce, Tolstoy, George Eliot - have been able to move from one sex to the other with complete ease.
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Neil A
Posted on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 01:51 am:   

I understand your point again, Brendan, but I still disagree, sort of. I know many women love Madame Bovary for doing just as you say, but I can't see how any man or woman (transgender individuals aside) can truly appreciate what it is to be a member of the opposite sex. It's the same with fiction--it's possible, probably even easier than writing from the heart, to portray a character with whom an author has little in common. I may have more empathy for dozens of female characters over a male character I just have no appreciation of, but ultimately I'm still a man.

And this is the very reason I enjoy reading the work of female writers--it's different to what I could do, even if I can completely empathise. I'm not saying women writers can't write convincing male characters, or vice versa, of course I'm not. In fact, I'm not sure what I'm saying. I guess I'm thinking about emotional fidelity, rather than psychological understanding. I also think this is only a factor when considering work written in the first person.

One novel that tackles this question fairly effectively is Yann Martel's Self. The author himself pretty much dismissed the book after the success of Life of Pi, but I think it's the better of the two.
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Rhys
Posted on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 04:10 am:   

Hi Neil! Curiously enough, OuLiPo techniques don't seem to appeal as much to female writers as to male. When it comes to novelists, there's Christine Brooke-Rose with her early quartet Out, Between, Such and Thru, and her excellent Xorandor (with a structure partly based on Boolean logic) -- but I can't think of many other names. At shorter lengths, Pamela Zoline is an interesting experimental writer who uses (either by design or coincidence) certain techniques which are OuLiPo in nature.

This is an interesting question. I'll have to research it more. If anyone else can mention some female OuLiPo writers I'd be extremely grateful...

Talking about female writers in general, we currently seem to be living in a golden age of Indian women writers. There are some amazing writers out there -- Arundhati Roy, Githa Hariharan, Kamila Shamsie, Sunetra Gupta... all of them excellent.
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Tamar
Posted on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 04:46 am:   

Hi Neil - thanks, I did read your review. Regarding men writing from the point of view of women and vice versa - it isn't necessarily the job of novelists to inhabit other people - some create a whole phalanx of characters out of their own psyche: I'd cite Virginia Woolf (you could even argue that that is all any writer is ever capable of doing). But when they do attempt to stand in another's shoes, well, you might as well say nobody can really write from the point of view of a person of another class or culture or physical state as that men can't write of being women, and women men. And some would say that they have no right to do so. But that is what the imagination is about, isn't it? Novelists will always stretch their imagination, and some will always be more successful than others. On the same grounds, Henry James scouted the idea of ever writing historical novels, on the basis that we can never truly inhabit the psyche of a past age (and, despite having written a historical novel myself, I think he was rather right...)

Some male novelists write amazingly from the woman's POV - George Gissing comes to mind, Galsworthy, and pre-eminently Tolstoy. It's harder for me to think of women who write convincingly as men - I think Iris Murdoch was quite good at it - but then, I'm appallingly ill-read. Name any book, I won't have read it. I'm a very slow reader and, generally, spend far too much of my life staring out of the window.
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Neil Oz
Posted on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 05:23 am:   

Life is staring out the window.

"you might as well say nobody can really write from the point of view of a person of another class or culture or physical state as that men can't write of being women, and women men."

Of course, Tamar, that's a natural extension of what I was getting at. With the alternative being Brendan's argument (and I'm generalising it here to take the discussion further) that a talented writer can write about anything authoritatively, assuming proper research and compassion. And I'm sure I'm more poorly read than you, having read only some Tolstoy and Henry James from the names you mention.

Rhys, I will have a look out for Zoline, if only because her name is a aural anagram of my own. ;)
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Neil A
Posted on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 05:47 am:   

Just read Zoline's "The Heat Death of the Universe" on Scifiction. I see what you mean, Rhys.
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des
Posted on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 07:30 am:   

Rhys says: Curiously enough, OuLiPo techniques don't seem to appeal as much to female writers as to male.
**********

What is Oulipo? I've seen it mentioned before, but never really understood it.

I agree with Tamar's view that Fiction writers' actual raison d'etre is to use their skills to stand in the shoes of any person or situation.

(Do situations have shoes?)
des
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Brendan
Posted on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 07:46 am:   

Hmmm.

Well, I guess I sort of have a mystical or metaphysical idea of writing where it is possible to really be in another person's shoes. But to believe in this idea you have to believe in a collective consciousness. If you belive in that, then it is easy enough to write as Xerxes, Diogenes' dog or whoever.

I like Gissing too. I assume you are sort of referring to "Odd Women"? Good book.
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des
Posted on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 07:55 am:   

Brendan, the whole of the Nemonymous concept derives from my interest (bordering on belief) in the Collective Unconscious! However, I still believe in intellectual property. Or is that an issue?
des
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Brendan
Posted on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 08:00 am:   

Intellectual property?

I dont believe in it at all. If Shakespeare had been worried about intellectual property he would have only written about 2 plays.

As far as I am concerned everything is fair game - as long as it is in the public domain.
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des
Posted on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 08:10 am:   

Perhaps this thread should be renamed The Numinous Imagination ...

If you believe in the Collective Unconscious does this entail a concept like God?

I'm not sure what Brendan means by 'everything is fair game'. Surely a work of art belongs to the person who first posits it in the audience arena as a new work of art - i.e. the one who created it -- or who tapped the Collective Unconscious in such a clever manner (or who was used as a filter if that is what one believes).

des
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Neil A
Posted on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 08:20 am:   

Information on OuLiPo here, Des:

http://www.nous.org.uk/oulipo.html

Now, collective consciousness, that is a more interesting proposition, Brendan. Not that I believe in it myself. Des is absolutely right that Nemonymous seems to be a kind of conduit for this type of thinking though. Maybe that's why his attempt to get people consciously writing sequels or segues to preceding work in Nemo deadended.
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n/a
Posted on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 08:22 am:   

(Sorry, Des. Cross-posted.)
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des
Posted on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 08:35 am:   

Oulipo seems very relevant to the concept of the Collective Unconscious - and to Synchronicity.
des
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Neil A
Posted on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 08:48 am:   

Synchronicity and Collective Consciousness are separate to me. Not sure if they were to Jung (or are indeed to y'all)--haven't read him.

I'm more interested in synchronicity. (Perhaps Nemonymous exponents are divided into two depending on which side of the fence they're on. Prick up your ears.)
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Brendan
Posted on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 08:49 am:   

Well, collective consciousness, collective unconscious - either way - Jung or Eastern thought.

I am not saying that one should submit a Ben Johnson play to Nemonymous claiming it as their own work. I am saying that to use other writers' material - their styles, their storylines, etc. I consider to be perfectly fine. All writers do it - though mostly unconsciously.

As far as for instance, getting inside the head of Cleaopatra and writing her life from her point of view - I think such a thing could be done well by a male writer if he were to have a sort of epiphany about it. That is certainly how Joyce got into the head of Molly Bloom.
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des
Posted on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 08:58 am:   

'Epiphany' is an interesting word in the context of Literature. Not really a sort of intellectual/artistic orgasm but more a serendipitous conflux of forces (inner or outer) that pinpoints a sudden inspiration?
Some regard those 'forces' as religious or spiritual - but I tend to think of them as purely Artistic. There is a deep sctructure to all these phenomena akin to those deep structures associated with language in 'Transformational Grammar' - in a similar way, perhaps, as I earlier proposed in this thread that there was a deep structure to all fiction: one of 'ominousness'.
des
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Rhys
Posted on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 04:53 am:   

Des: What appeals to me about OuLiPo is that it helps to break familiar patterns -- the sort of familiar patterns that any writer with unlimited choice tends to fall into automatically.

Two of the stories I wrote with you, 'The Broom Cupboard of Crossed Destinies' and 'A Sort of Runic Rhyme' used (simple) OuLiPo rules.
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Rhys
Posted on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 04:54 am:   

Forgot to add: the best book I've ever read on OuLiPo is Harry Matthews' 'The Case of the Persevering Maltese'. I heartily recommend this.
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des
Posted on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 05:19 am:   

OuLiPo: breaking familar patterns, Ominousness, Jane Austen, Collective Unconscious, Intellectual Property, Epiphanies, the shoes of the situation etc.
What's the the threads' thread?
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des
Posted on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 06:13 am:   

Is OuLiPo, then, equivalent to what we do in our writer's group every month (a group of local writers that meet in my house) -- where we pick titles (pre-prepared by group members over the years) out of a hat for live speed-writing exercises and also for homework exercises?

(My two new stories 'Laughter In The Distance' and 'Why Behind The Fence?' (recently featured on 'Lost Pages') were recently done in this way.)
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Dflewis
Posted on Tuesday, April 18, 2006 - 01:11 am:   

I've incorporated some of my thoughts above in my blog entry today ('Fiction'):
http://www.weirdmonger.blogspot.com/
Thanks to those above who helped me draw these teeth!
It also contains my thoughts on Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.
des

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