Monday, June 19, 2006

Conveying states

A common situation that writers have is that, in expressing an experience or a feeling, they are loved by those who have experienced similar things but ridiculed by those who have not. When a reader has experiential ground for a piece of writing, the writing reflects a subjective state with which he is familiar; this creates a sense of recognition and a sense also of being understood. Both of these are helpful, and both evoke respect and goodwill. The person who has not experienced the same feelings or lifestyles, on the other hand, has no recognition; and he is therefore typically left wondering what has been written - as well as whether it's anything worthwhile.

How indeed does one convey an emotion to someone who has not felt it? How if not through metaphor - through comparing the processes to something with which the reader is familiar - or by attempting to put it in terms that reflect the reader's neurological state? A person who has no context - or limited context, or erroneous context - for what's being conveyed may not only be annoyed but become full of hatred. The feelings that he has either not known or decided wrong-made - or both -
now come at him though a random piece of writing. So what is this reluctant reader to do?

Let's turn this around; What is the writer to do in order to make his work palatable to the reluctant reader? At stake is more than the writer's popularity; at stake is how the world views the emotions conveyed. And this means: Figuring out how the reader thinks and what he has known; and present the work in reference to this knowledge. And when the issue is with feelings, I believe that it's worthwhile to
describe them as they are felt - intrinsically - and then, once referential (external) analytical perspective is possible to come up with referential definition.

And then feed them into each other - feed heart and mind into each other - in the process checking, improving, completing, enhancing and finally mastering - until they produce beautiful work.

There is also of course the hostile-takeover model (derived from corporate law): Conveying something so powerfully and beautifully that even the cynics will be swayed. The first model is that of catering to the consumer; the second is that of overpowering his defenses with truth and beauty of one's work. I believe there is room for both, and I hope that devices such as extended metaphor and intrinsic-referential synthesis can be used by people to convincingly and completely convey emotional and intrapersonal states in order that the totality of human experience - or at least more and more of it in pieces - can be made available to the reader and thus both felt and understood.


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