Saturday, January 10, 2009

Garfield Minus Garfield vs. Me Minus Diss

I've not been sleeping well, likely because I continue editing in my head as I fall asleep (I came up with a good idea last night). I should just stay up all day every day from now on. Prose is far more vicious than poetry in its ability to not be as malleable as I see poetry being, or, I'm a nitpicker and tinkerer since I was trained as a poet. All the first drafts of my prose are far too expository and rambling, so now I'm making them more tight, metaphorical, and imagistic.

Prose doesn't succumb so easily to this process as one might think, especially in a book that has researchy-essays followed by narrative followed by lyrical / prose poetry followed by narrative followed by researchy.... How can such a book move successfully between such diverse sub genres in nonfiction? Leaps of faith. Metaphor. Like stanzas in poems, or sonnets in a sequence. And yet....

"When I gave up writing poetry I was very sad, for I had devoted 15 years to the study of how the structures of poems carry meaning. But I was delighted to find that nonfiction prose can also carry meaning in its structures, can tolerate all sorts of figurative language, as well as alliteration and even rhyme. The range of rhythms in prose is larger and grander than it is in poetry, and it can handle discursive ideas and plain information as well as character and story. It can do everything. I felt as though I had switched from a single reed instrument to a full orchestra." (Annie Dillard)

If you don't read Garfield Minus Garfield, you are missing out. Here is the comic from 1/9/09, and it resonates on a deep, postmodern level.

5 comments:

Victoria said...

Thank you for introducing me to Garfield Minus Garfield. It was a moment of light relief in a stressful day. I find it very difficult to go to sleep if I'm thinking about work, which is why I always read gardening books, or fiction. I find the sort of gardening books that don't have too many pictures are good, otherwise one starts planning one's garden - and that keeps me awake as well. I recommend Vita Sackville-West.

Susan Tomlinson said...

Thanks for your comment on the Bike Garden the other day, Benjamin.

As for the dissertation, sounds like things are progressing nicely. Try to get outside for a little bit of a break if possible. Go for a walk or run--it might help you unwind to sleep.

Wild Flora said...

Hi Benjamin and thanks for stopping by to visit my blog. As someone who made her living by writing and editing nonfiction for 30 years (then finally gave up and converted to manual labor) I feel your pain. Only you know what works for you and what doesn't, but watch out for the tendency to keep rewriting until all you have left is shreds. "The ego always judges the products of the unconscious"--Jung. If you keep writing first drafts, it may be time to show a few of them to a neutral party (one of them may be better than you think) or at least take a break from writing and come back to it when you are able to be more objective yourself.

Oh, and the Garfield cartoon is GREAT.

our friend Ben said...

"Garfield Minus Garfield." Mercy! Not a Garfield fan, but the Garfield strip where the hero's rustic brother entertains him by showing socks going around in a dryer has been an all-time favorite. Sleep is good. We like cookbooks and marble books for mindless and happy sleep-inducement. Long, tedious histories will do the trick anytime, too. Good luck!!!

Layanee said...

That's life as I know it...sometimes.