Friday, October 08, 2004

on passive production

I wrote, on 10/3:
On the other hand, the most offensive writers passively produce experimental texts that neither approach the theory which their work attempts to sound like nor make the sort of attempts at the new experimentalists are supposed to be tempted [to attempt]...

Nada asks, "How can anyone produce a text "passively"? Isn't all writing an act of will, even so-called "automatic writing"?

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I like the questions. First, Production and Action are different states altogether. I agree with your definition of writing. It seems to be: writing is a willful act.

But what that act produces is not necessarily active. A writer can passively produce: Bartleby actively copies but passively produces the ideas on the cases he copies.

2 comments:

Laura Carter said...

I am again, Gary, guilty as charged! Thanks for keeping this line of thought going.

Laura

Anonymous said...

I'm loving this discussion, Gary. Thank you. I wish I had more time right now to throw my two cents in more often.

Another way of looking at production and action in writing: I'm teaching a freshman writing seminar for the first time this semester. Just this past week, I asked the class "why do we write"? The overwhelming response was that we write to "express ourselves." I suggested that it is possible to express oneself without actually saying anything (Bush being the most obvious example here), and that the purpose of writing should be to "communicate" something to someone else. It was a distinction that had never occured to them. Their essays are starting to improve now that they understand the distinction. I think it's an important distinction to make. To passively produce writing is to be more concerned with expression (what you call "window dressing") than with the actively productive act of communicating.

Kevin