Saturday, September 28, 2013

I've never needed the tension, the narrative arch taught in 'writing classes' as a mainstream value of story telling quality.  I see the point, sure.  But for me,  I value a story which is a journal, not considering that as dismissive.  Writing can be as a great nature poem, a meditation on reality.  A moment reveals itself, standing alone, does not need hype.  There's enough in the world to be meaningful with a sketch.  To arrange things into story with all the necessities of conflict and psychological 'through lines,' seems almost a violation of the true things a story is supposed to bring forth.

It takes quiet, it takes observation.  Tell the basic truth, and the point will come out.  This is the accuracy of Chekhov, knowing so many real people, so many circumstances, so that all he had to do, almost, was change the names, not to belittle his imagination.  Chekhov can be ambitious, in the right way, with his laid back approach as an observer of reality.  "The Black Monk" is a stretch in some ways, but it works, it is believable, it is cut from real inner landscapes.  "The Lady with the Pet Dog," too, seems constructed from within by someone who has been there.  He has a great memory, a whale's sieve, for the ever-changing moments, the constant flux of conscious thoughts narrating life.  His taste, his choices bring focus.  He didn't bother to tack on endings beyond the logic of nature and reality would render itself.  He was a journalist of the human condition, his works nature journals documenting  variety.  His fiction, timed, never overwrought.

And this, perhaps, speak to the purpose here, as Chekhov started out with bits and pieces, sketches of actors drunk in cemeteries, to write something that doesn't need to be in short story form, the gloom of a Monday morning written about in the same ballpark as Chekhov's story of the waiter who slips, injures himself, goes back to the village to live in poverty.  Goethe, the poet, was also a scientist, and his poetic imagination helped his science.  Lucretius put into poetic form that which can not be divided an smaller, the atom.

"How long can you keep it up?"  The landlord's question from over a glass of wine the night before rings in my head as I get ready for work.

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