New Book Contains Chapter On Lennie

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Marv Friedenn
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Joined: Thu Jul 06, 2006 7:34 am

Coda to a Thread

Postby Marv Friedenn » Wed Sep 05, 2007 8:50 am

B T suggests that I might write more attractively if I wrote fiction. At once I imagine that the cover of the present book reads sermon on the flats: the egalitarian alternative to fortune worship: A NOVEL! Immediately I feel the relief that a reader must feel who is about to read a book that does not claim to be true. Does not claim, in other words, to present an idea which the reader must decide is valid or not. And depending on that decision, must adjust his or her life with possibly shocking consequences. No, if Sermon is a novel, then it's about a person, not an idea. The reader's interest shifts from deciding whether the idea is true to whether the character (in this case the narrator him-herself) is a convincing person. Novels are about people, not ideas, even when the characters are thoughtful.

What's the difference between a convincing character and a good idea? Even when the convincing character is a possible role model, the reader is free, is under no compulsion to decide whether or not to consider the fiction real--that is, to make the transition from literature to life. A decision, moreover, that can be indefinitely postponed. But a good idea is good because it already applies to life; or, as we say, it's a lively idea. Unlike a convincing character, who is presumed to be unique (not merely a type) in order to be convincing, a good idea (like in its day the idea that one plus one equals two) is coercive like a law which applies to everyone: you either obey or, breaking it, risk the consequences. In short, fiction is more leisurely than non-fiction because fiction, not being urgent, allows the reader an indefinite response time. With regard to urgency, it's the difference between being presented with a recipe for gumbo and having a steaming bowl set before you: one is allowed to be dilatory about responding to the recipe but not to the real McCoy without offending the cook.

So the issue of fiction or non-fiction boils down to urgency; to what the ancient Greek physician called the KAIROS: the critical moment when the remedy must be applied to be effective. If the disease here is what Teddy Adorno called the administered society, the cure is to expose its celebrated scientific outlook to be ultimately nothing more than a blank stare. The urgency is owing to the fact that a blank stare, prolonged past a critical point--where, in my opinion, we are now--turns the observer to stone.

Posts: 103
Joined: Tue Jun 27, 2006 2:49 pm

Re: Coda to a Thread

Postby B T » Wed Sep 05, 2007 2:52 pm

I see your point.

I wrote:A suggestion: You could probably write a great collection of short stories. It would be worth thinking about for your next book.

Next, I said, next.

Yes, the Sermon must stand as it is ... and may it stand like those monuments on Easter Island have been standing

Marv Friedenn wrote:The urgency is owing to the fact that a blank stare, prolonged past a critical point--where, in my opinion, we are now--turns the observer to stone.

long after the place had been deforested.


The problem is that most people are non-fiction challenged. They need a commercial to get interested enough to tackle the stuff. And a damn good commercial at that. Hook 'em with a good short story or two ...

[glibly] comin' up on 10,000 hits ...

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