The Novelist and the Neurobiologist Forum
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|welcome to the forum|
Name: Paul Grobstein
Date: 2005-10-15 13:13:16
Link to this Comment: 16511
|and literary critic makes 3|
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: 2005-10-18 20:36:14
Link to this Comment: 16538
So...I really don't know how much space has been left, here, for getting a word in edgewise, but I'm going to see if there' s just a little room, between the novelist and neurobiologist, where a literary critic might deposit her several cents' worth.
What struck me, first, in Michelle's account, was her opening description of an essay "grown out of her control," her realization of "exactly WHY it had swelled out of her control...." Reading as I can't-but-do for pattern and imagery, what I saw here was an anticipation of Grace's rogue symptoms, her hallucination of her mother's getting very large. Like her daughter, seeing her own essay looming huge, Michelle seemed to be looking about for some way to reduce, to manage, to cut it down to size -- perhaps via a little scientific dissection and explanation?
What struck me, second (laughing) was Paul's refusal to respond to this request by being neatly "reductive." He insisted instead on hauling out the whole attic of his unruly unconscious (or a large portion thereof): red-headed women of several generations, envelopes left and found, jackets lost and recovered....
in order to say (I think this is what is being said? it was pretty hard digging) that the making of stories always comes after, is always belated. The process of metaphor-making is not a process (this was your question, right, Michelle?) of retrieving what already exists in the unconscious, but rather of consciously creating something new, shaping what was hitherfore shapeless, bringing light into darkness, giving meaning to what, beforehand, had none. And this is directly counter to psychoanalytic presumptions that the project is one of excavating a story which is already there, just needing to be recovered.
What struck me, third, was the similarity between this argument and one I explored in an essay I wrote a couple of months ago, called "Why Words Arise--and Wherefore". I was thinking through, there, the idea that the indeterminate nature of the whole universe (of which, of course, the bipartite brain is one expression) motivates the making of stories. The
unpredictability of the future and irreducibility of the present--results of the emergent nature of the universe--lead...to those those remarkable constructions we call ... literature. Indeterminacy prods us to make up stories that explain how we got from what was to what is, from what is to what will be. Literature....is what we name the places where this meaning-making occurs...It is one of our ways...of acknowledging and responding to unknowability....
Name: Michelle H
Date: 2005-10-31 17:06:02
Link to this Comment: 16741
Date: 2006-08-08 10:38:18
Link to this Comment: 20139