Reading Proust Was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer this weekend and in particular about Gertrude Stein who I used in my MFA "thesis." Those many years ago, I was fascinated by her playing with language. I misunderstood that she was trying to grasp the essence of a thing but that our language structure kept us from achieving that "understanding." Now, I see that she was trying to get away from the words to expose the structure and that the structure is what is hardwired in our brains and so there is no getting away from the structure. I thought she was trying to use the words differently, to reach behind them and wrench out of them some sort of a priori essence that one could grasp if the reader could escape, even for a second, the structured logic and traditional meaning, kind of like meditation. As soon as you notice that you're meditating, you no longer are. I thought she was striving to show the reader a more full meaning and that putting words together in different unexpected, nonsensical ways, we could "sense" their meaning anew. But, she was trying to get away from words and expose structure.
Link to Jonah Lehrer's web page.
In my own work, I'm realizing that all I can hope to do is evoke, to summon or call forth from the reader's imagination.
One exciting thing is that my MFA project still has relevance for me after 20 years, even with its confusing and ill-written thoughts and questions. I think maybe the reason I like to write short stories is that I'm still trying to answer that question I had as a kid, "Does everybody see the same?" I still cannot word it any better but I know what I mean.
I want to buy Tess Gallagher's new book, The Man From Kinvara: Selected Stories.