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It’s hostile

30 November 2017

It’s hostile in that you’re trying to make somebody see something the way you see it, trying to impose your idea, your picture. It’s hostile to try to wrench around someone else’s mind that way.

Joan Didion

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8 Comments to “It’s hostile”

  1. Done correctly, they take to your worldview willingly.

  2. So it is hostile when a teacher corrects a child to ‘impose’ her view of English sentence construction? It is hostile to ‘wrench around’ a child’s mind to multiplication tables?

    • You’ll have to decide for yourself; Didion doesn’t say. She’s only talking about writing.

      Linda Kuehl: You have said that writing is a hostile act; I have always wanted to ask you why.

      Joan Didion: It’s hostile in that you’re trying to make somebody see something the way you see it, trying to impose your idea, your picture. It’s hostile to try to wrench around someone else’s mind that way. Quite often you want to tell somebody your dream, your nightmare. Well, nobody wants to hear about someone else’s dream, good or bad; nobody wants to walk around with it. The writer is always tricking the reader into listening to the dream.

      https://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/3439/joan-didion-the-art-of-fiction-no-71-joan-didion

      • A reviewer may try to get someone to see a novel the way the reviewer sees it. But a novelist is simply telling a story. There is no antecedent which can be seen in an alternative way. The reader forms whatever picture he chooses. The author doesn’t even know what it is.

        One reader may try to make another reader see the novel in a certain way. But the author is out of the picture.

        • The author, who (hopefully) carefully chooses each and every word in the book, is not “out of the picture.”

          The author is the picture. The entire story is directed to impart something decided by the author. (Not necessarily condoned or supported by the author, but chosen anyway.)

          Whether or not the reader agrees with the work is another matter.

          • Prior to publication, what is the object that the author wants us to see his way? For a novel, it doesn’t exist. How can that object be seen any other way? It can’t be seen.

            The author creates the object. Readers then argue about how to see it. The author can be dead. That’s way out of the picture. Dead authors overrate their importance.

            After the book is in circulation, the live author may join in a discussion about how it should be seen.

            The reviewer wants us to see the book his way. The book is the object he wants seen in some specific way.

      • The article from Paris Review is profound. Thanks…

  3. Yet another authorial intent debate.
    YAAID.
    They never end, just mutate.

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