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des
Posted on Friday, April 08, 2005 - 10:17 am:   

Now that I have a large book out (one which contains the phrase fustian to the nth degree), I notice few seem able to get through it all ... even if they enjoy it -- or even with the carrot of being given the code to their own immortality should they manage to read it all!

Is there an inspirational art to Obscurantism or is it something you need to work at or is it a curse one is born with?

des
http://www.weirdmonger.com


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Rhys
Posted on Friday, April 08, 2005 - 11:05 am:   

> Is there an inspirational art to Obscurantism or is it something you need to work at or is it a curse one is born with?

Well it depends. Being obscure may be due to several reasons. Two of the biggest reasons are fakery and laziness.

On the other hand, authors may be trying to present genuine ideas that are inherently difficult to understand, or they may delight in certain games and tricks that 'obscurity' can make possible. Julian Rios is such a writer and his books are definitely worth persisting with. However, I find him the exception.

Probably because of my scientific/engineering background I have an inbuilt distrust of obscurantism. It's too easy. I much prefer authors who are able to deal with complexity in a clear and logical manner. Stanislaw Lem, for instance.
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des
Posted on Friday, April 08, 2005 - 12:11 pm:   

I agree with your suspicion about obscurantism, Rhys. But who can judge *apparent* obscurantism (hiding a thousand hidden treasures triggered by each oubliette of meaning) from the serial obscurantisms of fakery and laziness?

A big question central to all complex or allusional literature.
des
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Rhys
Posted on Saturday, April 09, 2005 - 02:55 am:   

Well it's the reader who can judge -- that's the reader's job. I'd hate to think a reader was shirking his or her responsibility by refusing to judge!
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Tamar
Posted on Saturday, April 09, 2005 - 06:11 am:   

I think Oscar Wilde said "Only the greatest artists succeed in being obscure."
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des
Posted on Saturday, April 09, 2005 - 09:29 am:   

Great quote, Tamar. Thanks.

Rhys, is your "the reader" a consensus of all readers (if a vote could be taken) or a selection of readers (eg: reviewers or specialists in complex or allusional literature or...?), or just one reader ... who judge(s) whether the perceived obfuscation is either genius or rubbish?
des
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Rhys
Posted on Monday, April 11, 2005 - 02:10 am:   

Des: the reader is me. Who else could it be?
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des
Posted on Monday, April 11, 2005 - 04:39 am:   

Yes, and "the reader" is me, too.

What comparative degrees of fallibility or dependability can one grant to the following:

(a) 'The reader' as oneself, where obscurity or not is in the eye of the beholder. Each one of us is this 'the reader', as Rhys rightly says.

(b) The (imputed?) consensus of all readers.

(c) The consensus of just the formal reviewers of the book.

(d) The consensus of only the readers and reviewers who are knowledgeable of or attuned to the type of book in question (and the case in question is a book that seems obscure because of its poetic/ syntactic/ symbolic complexity often derived from allusivity/elusivity and/or multi-clausal (Proustian?) texture or use of esoteric semantics)??

des
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Rhys
Posted on Monday, April 11, 2005 - 06:10 am:   

Des: I suspect that most readers don't care what other readers think of the book they are reading.

However, if that reader is also a writer then he probably does care (worrying about what readers think is a special habit of writers).

Having said that... time is limited in the real world. If someone I respect has a favourable opinion about a certain book then I may be tempted to seek out that book. So in this case point d (see above) applies, but mostly I'd say it was point a.
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des
Posted on Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - 12:14 am:   

Yes, indeed, that is one standpoint which seems eminently sensible. But there are many standpoints, a maelstrom of them centring upon and radiating from a, b, c, d above, feeding off each other, influencing each other in various permutations of conscious and unconscious rape, pillage and love.

Meanwhile, there is the book. Untouched. Glorious in its unsulliedness.
des

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