Saturday 27 February 2010

Throughness and Ambivalence

This is a beautiful picture by George Kennedy of a horse doing dressage. Why? Well apart from the fact I have loved riding since I was very young I read the most wonderful and enlightening piece by Meg Rosoff in her blog on how she discusses a term used in dressage - 'throughness' and applies it to the connection between writer and reader - see her blog on 'Throughness' is a dressage term that describes that perfect communication between rider and horse. She perceives that it is a communication that is also achieve able between reader and writer. Where something she has written she knows is so good that the reader will understand exactly what she means. Meg suggests that she knows which pieces in a book will be used in a review and the considers that they often come from one of these 'throughness' moments where her writing has almost come straight from the subconscious.
I think this is the most wonderful concept and defines something I have been thinking about for several weeks not just as a writer but as a reader as well. We all know the best books to read are the ones we fell like we have walked into. As a reader you are so totally immersed in the story you become part of the plot with everything going on around you fading into oblivion. As a writer it is that moment when the words just fall out of the end of your fingers and you almost have no control on what is being said, it is the writer deep inside that doesn't have to think too much that has made a rare trip to the forefront of your brain because it is has something really important irresistible to say. This state either for reader or writer cannot be forced not can be it be predicted.But it is a moment of pure 'throughness' where the writer and reader are connected by a pulsating umbilical cord of understanding, they could be perceived as one at that particular moment.
I have one of those glorious weeks where I have had the opportunity to discuss my own work quite a bit. It is very self indulgent but also very useful when doing a creative writing PhD. It gives ideas that have been fermenting away a forum allowing those concepts, now fully formed, to make an entrance into the real world. They become clear and focused when verbalised.
This leads me onto another word I have been exploring this week and that is 'ambivalence'. Both Angela Carter and Freud suggest that ambivalence allows something to move from being 'othered' to being 'normal' implying that the more something is written about the more ambivalent people become to it. It seems a bit of an oxymoron in that ambivalence means to me that someone doesn't care but by writing about it a lot surely implies that you do care. However, as a concept it works and works well. It makes it to explain that sort of movement - for example in Melvin Burgess's Junk in 1996 uses cannabis and heroin to illustrate drug use. Now cannabis has become invisible and part of the plot, just every day life, whilst cocaine is used where cannabis was previously. It is often the drug of choice by writers to highlight drug use now.
Throughness and ambivalence two words I need to do more thinking about...I will let you know.

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