Thursday, June 18, 2009

Davies on Writing

So, you see, he does have a "merry" look in later age -- but much of the sternness is there. And I couldn't agree more and love it when I read my thoughts expressed by someone in a better position than I to know what he's talking about.

Davies said that he knows many decently educated professional people, say doctors, lawyers, engineers, even teachets, who say they think they "can write a pretty good letter." Often it is not true. They can't managed to say anything clearly and succinctly using truly appropriate language and paragraph structure. Why? Because, he says, they read badly. Not that they can't read, not that they aren't proficient readers, not that they don't read. They read nothing that is not mediocre be it papers, fiction or nonfiction. Says he: "They admire cheap stuff, they imitate cheap stuff, and they appear to have no understanding of how they cheapen their own minds and powers of expression by so doing."

What I don't agree with is Davies' believe that writers are born, not made. He talks about his own family where both mother and father were writers, where language usage and pronunciation was a dinner table topic, where the house was filled with an abundance of literature. It sounds much more like nurture than nature to me -- especially after my reading of Malcolm Gladstone earlier this year.

A concept he discusses at length is a word he found Nabokov using, shamanstvo, which fits into his emphasis on Jung's idea of a universal unconscious. He believes all fine literature arises from the writer's connection to the universal unconscious. I'm pondering this. It makes sense to me in so far as Jung's ideas make sense, and many, even most, do. I think he would go further and say all great works of art. Could be. But a lot of drivel has been written about and by people supposedly in touch with that universal subconscious and I think Davies would have agreed with that.

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