Meaning & “The Moral Point of View” - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Meaning & “The Moral Point of View”

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  1. “The core ethical concepts in which you most passionately believe are the language in which you are writing… Telling these truths is your job. You have nothing else to tell us.” ~ Anne Lamott Meaning & “The Moral Point of View”

  2. The Accumulation of Meaning • Meaning must be organically embodied in the story • Made by showing the concrete (as opposed to abstract) • Action (things happening) in a story reveals mystery (in stories, action & theme intrinsically tied together) • LCD of fiction = the senses • 3 sensuous strokes to make an object real (says Flaubert) • Details carry weight, and certain ones will accumulate meaning/become symbols • Meaning = symbols &themes that force uncertainty on the reader (a series of clues but not a solution/elusive question at the heart of the story which is left open)

  3. Symbols • Scare readers (and writers) away • Feel like mysterious objects put in arbitrarily to frighten common reader • Forget about symbols; focus instead on details

  4. Anagogical Vision • Ability to see different levels of reality in one image/situation • Fiction should be both canny & uncanny (discerning & mysterious simultaneously) • Literal, physical plane fiction entertains • At same time, works on a deeper (more mysterious or spiritual) level that offers meaning

  5. The Habit of Art • Serious writer not interested in external habits, but in the “Habit of Art” • Quality or virtue of mind; writing something of value in and of itself and that works in itself • Basis of Art = TRUTH • Person who aims after art in his work aims after truth • Whole personality must take part, conscious & unconscious • Habits must be rooted deeply and cultivated by practice

  6. Write First, Then Discover • First drafts must be written from White-Hot Center, unconscious mind • Details you include are not planned but occur organically • Time to look for meaning is AFTER YOU’VE WRITTEN; only then can you discover what unconscious mind has done • Then, and only then, will you look for “gestures that make contact with mystery”

  7. Judgment from Vision • Your beliefs will be the light by which you see • But they will not be WHAT you see or substitution for seeing • Belief is the engine that makes perception operate • Just as with symbols, however, belief is NOT deliberately added; it’s only visible to a writer after a story is written • The virtues of art, like the virtues of faith… reach beyond the limitations of the intellect / Art reveals truth • All true writing reveals the writer’s very soul

  8. The Moral Point of View • Telling the truth is your job. You have nothing else to tell us. • NOT delivering a moral or message; if you have a message, send a telegram. • A writer is God in relation to the world she creates; as such, she is responsible for the coherence of her world • Coherence is made up of two things: • 1- writer’s world view (way the world actually is) • 2- writer’s sense of morality (way the world ought to be)

  9. Coherence is Meaning • This cosmic view and the ethical attitudes of the author will create a “special kind of thing” the writer is doing, a special way of seeing the world • By rendering stories in concrete, sensual detail that organically accumulates meaning that comes from our deepest beliefs, we make the reader feel in his bones that something is going on here that counts

  10. Try This: • Look at the stories you have already written (not new work) and make a list of the objects that stand out to you • If none of the objects or details stand out to you, ask another reader to see if any of the details begin to accumulate meaning • Once you have a short list (don’t look for too many), ask yourself if there are any patterns between the objects • Are you beginning to get a glimpse of your special world view?