Saturday, 19 June 2010

Representations # 2

I have been mulling through the idea of ensuring my novel is not didactic. This has led me to thinking about mimesis where rather than representation it might be seen as resemblance. I am sorry but you are going to get a lot of this as this blog is partly notes for my PhD. A place where I can think random thoughts through. Anyway as you know I am reading Understanding Representation and Jen Webb compared e cummings' poem 'r-p-o-p-h-e-s-s-ag-r' and Lovelace's Seventeenth Century poem also on a grasshopper. It is suggested that Lovelace is didactic and cummings uses mimesis. Hence my mulling.
My PhD is looking at the representation of sex, drugs and alcohol but my novel is not about said issues instead they will be within the plot. As with real life for teenagers they are things the are aware of but don't necessarily partake in. This is where I think I want mimesis to come in as I do not want my novel to be didactic and laying down the rules as to how teenagers should behave and the dire consequences if you have sex, take drugs or drink alcohol (and it would be too easy to fall into that trap). It could be said that mimesis is 'showing' whilst didactism is 'telling'. As I tell my students over and over again 'show not tell'. Now something I must adhere to myself. But I think it is more complicated than that. It is more than just making the narrative come to life through dialogue and action. I think it is allowing, in my case, sex, drugs and alcohol to be just 'there' in the text,part of the plot and not the driving force of the narrative (or slapping you around the face type of text - 'the I am about to talk about sex narrative - pay attention, you will learn something.'. It is more a case where it is subsumed into the plot so the reader doesn't notice but at some later stage when thinking about sex for example can think 'Oh I remember reading something about that vaguely.' In other words they have learnt something but with out realising it.
Mimesis and resemblance are going to be the latest route I am going to take and how I can apply them to the novel. Is it something you need to be deliberately aware of or if you are do you risk the possibility of slipping into didactism because of your awareness? Is being a great writer one who works mimesis and resemblance rather than representation seamlessly into their work? More questions, more thoughts that I need to contemplate. More reading to be done!

No comments:

Post a Comment