Monday, 20 September 2010
The Present Tense and Jam Tortillas: Phillip Pullman in Discussion With A Straw Man
Of course, to suggest that marmalade sandwiches are currently popular because writers are attempting to reflect our more immersive, more heat-of-the-moment culture, with varying degrees of success, is nonsense. No, it’s all the fault of creative writing courses. As usual! Damn them to hell! It’s all because they want their students to write more ‘vividly’ without fear of the consequences! What’s that you’re mumbling, straw man?
SM: Let these creative writing students write about marmalade sandwiches if it interests them; the talented ones will find new ways to play with the form and the less talented ones will soon be forgotten. Those who constantly blame creative writing courses for the state of modern literature seem to forget, 1) that storytelling itself is open to all, 2) that mediocre writers who copy fashionable trends have always been about, and 3) that good writers can use the same technique and produce something marvellous.
What’s that, straw man? You’re going to drop the satirical facade and talk candidly about the present tense?
Let these words be written on the mountaintop.
“Literary techniques, like technology or a text that attempts to sum up the meaning of life, are morally neutral. Each one will have flaws that a bad writer will succumb to, and that a good writer will overcome; and, likewise, it will have possibilities that a bad writer will ignore, and that a good writer can use. Dismiss no technique, and praise no technique. Their worth is not in themselves, but in their application.”
As eavesdropped upon by Jon Ware