Thursday, March 08, 2007

When ‘I’ lead the story

Let this sentence be pushed to the middle of this description, this deceitful, vague opening, let it be ignored, overlooked or forgotten. Rather than the author’s self being labelled as an immature literary object around which his/her story is destined to revolve, better diffuse it to the already present; allow it to meld in the crowd.

Notwithstanding the sanctity bestowed to a story’s lead or opening paragraph especially by those who are in journalistic profession, a lead is often a treaty between the author and all the unexpected events that are yet to see light in the story. It is also an anticipatory bail taken by the author at the very outset against the expectations, often false, of a reader; “I am a sick man... I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man. I believe my liver is diseased. However, I know nothing at all about my disease…” begins Dostoevsky his Notes from the Underground. Leads also reflect the hesitance of an author to enter a discourse. S/he wants to be someone sitting at the rear of a hall listening to a lecture or who glides through the lines of a novel at his/her own ease. This hesitance can also be pursued as a literary strategy that gives life to the whole narration. But when the story itself begins to interrogate the author along his/her way, s/he has to voluntarily withdraw from the exercise, in the way Maurice Blanchot did in The Madness of the Day: “A story? No. No stories, never again.” Here, a series of events befell the writer who began his story in as humble a way as, “I am not learned; I am not ignorant. I have known joys. That is saying too little: I am alive, and this life gives me the greatest pleasure…”, reached the point when all what he said folded onto themselves before being concluded the way just mentioned.

Different is the case of an author who is unable to partake the experiences of his own life. This enigmatic zone of ‘the author and I’ is deliberately kept a no-man’s-land by many a writer. “The other one, the one called Borges, is the one things happen to”- Jorge Luis Borges begins his brief text, Borges and I. But for a voracious reader, the only concern is a story. One spends time to read a book; s/he pays for it, takes the effort to carry it home from the bookshop or library. The author ought to give full value to all the efforts a reader takes. Can anyone in this era of intellectual property rights and patents digest the idea when Borges concludes his Borges and I with “I do not know which of us has written this page”? Cut to the Content Writer who is always held responsible by the editorial ballast for whatever s/he writes for his/her site.

Another fair comparison is possible between an apparently trivial incident in Franz Kafka’s real life and his literary intent. Once in his friend’s place, the writer accidentally barged into the room in which his friend’s father was sleeping. Fearing that the old man’s sleep might be disturbed because of the commotion, Kafka whispered to him: “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to disturb you. Consider me a dream”. But often the stark realties of life do not allow the reader to consider any piece of text as a dream collectively shared by him/her and the writer. Which is why Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk had to snipe his readers’ conscience with a mind-boggling series of narratives in first person beginning with “I am a corpse” by a dead man, cheated and murdered, and who now awaits inevitable decay.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


My humble method of responding to aesthetic narratives might not be very commendable; nor may it be apt- something you also seemed to have pointed out. However, what motivates these words is nothing but an unidentifiable appreciation of the ieda of writing-something that connects both of us. From your latest work, I could sense 'the magic of writing'. Not only the magic your words demonstrate but the very concept of 'magic'or both combined.

While using the term i have actually been thinking about it, magic of writing? Yes. the magic that writing is so confident about. Say for example, when Marquez claims that all his otherwise incredibly beautiful stories had been actual events of the Latin America,
we must not miss the confidence he has in this very magic which is why, it can be thus thought, Blanchot begins his story narrating how 'disinterested' he is in narrating a "story" any more.

It also shows us the divide between real/magical does not exist for those writers and for their readers. such writers and readers can walk from reality directly into a dream and vise versa. But in Pamuk, as you have stated and we have discussed, a conscious attempt is made to remind us , quite often, of a real/unreal divide. It also goes to say that "neverthless, a story can be logically so". In writers of the stature of Marquez- i am not categorizing writers- there exists a confidence to defy reality to merge it into the apparent unreal where stories develop. Your identification of this divide is, in actuality, magical-or theorising the magical.

Please do not think that your work has been 'adroitly evaluated' here with so few of remarks made in total heresy. Such a magic these words do not posses nor are they directed at your work with any such motive behind.