writing and reality

Skipped over to another book focused on writers talking about writing–Writing Environments edited by Dobrin and Keller. In an interview with Annette Kolodny, the editors ask about the relationship between experience and writing. Here’s what she says:

“[T]he writer is never writing about what truly happened; no matter how hard writers try to capture what they understand as reality, in a sense, they are writing about the process of writing. They are writing about how they understand reality in the terms and language and story patterns made available to them by their culture. But the reader doesn’t know that. What comes out, finally, is the writer writing about what he or she has been able to understand of their experience through the narratives that have been available to him or her through culture.” (9)

On first encounter, I kept doubling back to reread that first sentence, particularly the last clause in which she states that writers are always writing about the process of writing. Writing is always a meta-operation, never quite dislocated from acts of transcribing words/ideas/stuff from body to surface. She doesn’t really indicate (here, at least) what’s entailed in “process,” but looping back to Haraway in previous post seems an interesting move. The next part of K’s reply, focused on story patterns and culture, has enriched my recent reading of the CCC issue devoted to indigenous and ethnic rhetorics (63.1). Up until very recently, there’s been no culture within the discipline to recognize (let alone understand) diverse rhetorical traditions; there’s been classical rhetoric, and then everything else. I appreciate that the authors skip efforts to explain the importance of this work in light of classical rhetoric’s dominance…the work doesn’t need justification, doesn’t need to be seen as an extension of or challenge/addition to…it’s important in its own right.

So, some fragments. I like to keep these short.


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