It’s hard to write speculative, dystopian fiction without sounding alarmist, preachy or inauthentic. Am I overstating the concerns people should have about the future as it’s unfolding? Making the narrative too abstract and detached for the sake of the all-important message I want to deliver, and thus defeating the very purpose of weaving complex themes into fiction? Or – worst of all – am I exaggerating for the sake of adding dramatic tension and effects to a novel that doesn’t really have anything socially relevant to say?
Two recent reports, one in Canada and the other England, have brought to the fore how writers, particularly of literary fiction, are struggling.
The Writers’ Union of Canada released Devaluing Creators, Endangering Creativety (See full report) in 2015. One of its key findings was that writers incomes in this country have declined 27 per cent since 1998, and that incomes from writing for 80 per cent of writers are below the poverty line. Says the report:
These results represent a cultural emergency for Canadians. If we want a strong and diverse publishing and cultural industry, it is essential that creators are reasonably and fairly compensated… Devaluing Creators, Endangering Creativity, The Writers Union of Canada, 2015
Similarly, Literature in the 21st Century: Understanding Models of Support for Literary Fiction, (See full report) published by the Arts Council England, found that sales of literary fiction in England are below what they were in the 1990s, and fewer than 1,000 writers sell enough books to make a career of writing.
Continue reading “Literary fiction: are all the canaries dead?” →
‘I used to study philosophy in the hopes of achieving certainty; now I am intent on making sense of the uncertainty…’
Indexing my journal, I sometimes come across entries that make me wonder: ‘Who the heck do I think I am?’
Being of a philosophical bent, I am putting together an annotated ‘Table of Contents‘ mapping my disjointed thoughts. Eventually I hope to make this the framework of a twisted introspective-extroverted amble titled, you guessed it, Out of Bounds: The Fiction of Philosophy.
Here, above the morning mists
I see nothing gives way
to anguish, or nausea
no matter what is said
by my outmoded mentor
of existentialist persuasion.
There’s nothing heavy enough
at the heart of me
to make me fall through clouds
tumbling down, down, down
into that harsh, predictable reality,
which is not so.
The trick is not to look
up, or down, or round
with eyes heavy as stones,
but to accept the vision
for what it is in this precise
and every other precious moment,
a concatenation of spirit, giving
meaning to everything –
even the vast imponderables
it knows it cannot know
are questions of my own making.
And I am forever, and ever so
despite this nagging notion
that my essence is all mist,
swaddled in this thinking flesh.
For days now I have been trying to comprehend the meaning of Hurssel’s ‘epoché’. I still don’t have a confident grasp of the process, and do not even know if my understanding in any way matches what he intended. But a sense, useful to a searcher, coalesced this morning into breathtaking focus.
Starting from his notion of ‘bracketing’ or suspending our ‘presuppositions’ surrounding sensory data I am reminded that:
Sense experiences are simple and immediate;
The five senses are separate and distinct;
Sensory data is fundamental to our notion of time, as time is essential to the interpretation of sense data.
The implications of these rather obvious premises intrigue me. Even before following through with them, I can see they place me on the threshold of a paradigm shift. Things get even more delightfully precarious when I cross reference the reality of my version of epoché with my previously adopted schemata of the four aspects of human consciousness – the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual.
This combined perspective on being reveals a rich, meaningful, exciting philosophical framework, which will be a background element of my literary development and exploration from now on.