Sunday, May 02, 2010


I was wondering lately why so many people try to publish something they wrote. In my country there is a bitter joke about it. It says: "We have 300 thousands of poets and twice as much writers". I think it comes from the certainty that everyone who can write a short message by phone or a memo is able to write a novel. And here we are, poor readers of such created monstrosity. Maybe I'm biased, OK, I AM biased, but for me, true literature ended with:
poetry: in 1891 - death of Rimbaud,
short story: in 1927 - death of Akutagawa,
novel: well, Ursula Le Guin is still alive, but she's one of maybe 5 people I admire.
These people were, or still are, the masters of the word. OK, maybe I am too much into the first two, but I love those troubled geniuses with all my heart and mind. I love every, even weak work of theirs. Whenever I read L'Eternite, Ophelie, or any short story by Akutagawa, I got goosebumps. The rhytm, melody, and composition are just perfect.
 If I experience this, over a hundred years after Rimbaud's death, over
 80 years after Akutagawa took his own life, that means it is eternal.
In contrary to most of modern writers.
Writing. Nothing too difficult. In our times everyone can write. Literacy rate is around 100% in each developed country. So, writing is something as usual as eating breakfast.
This is one of the reasons. People think that writing is something easy.
Second reason is more complex.
Some people think they have monopoly for truth. They started to believe in some moment of their life that they have something important to say. This is bad. This is dangerous. Whenever back home, I like to watch everyday news, and each Thursday there is a small "Book corner" where an author can present his/her work.
I lost tracks of names, I never heard of 80% of them, and I considered myself a bookworm.
They talk about their books as if it was the only book left in the Universe. Why we should even bother to read?
For numerous reasons.
1. This book depicts the life of real people. Of everyday people as we meet on the streets on our way home or work.
2. Book illustrates the real characters and situations.
3. Book shines a light on different situations in life, sometimes hidden deep beneath the mask of neutrality. It tells us about all the horrible situations that can happen to everybody.
4. Book is about true love. By true author wants to say: hedonic. It depicts sexual acts as they are, without a trace of romatic feelings, they are just an act.
(Funny thing, I was reading a book by M. Eliade, and although I knew this all along, now it struck me again while writing here, that sexual act shouldn't be treated as "just an act". And if it is, the moral condition, both of the writer and readers is deteroriated. Long time ago, sexual act was a rite, was a holy act with meaning. If our society stripped this out of sacrum veils, it remained hideous, cursed, shameful. And soulless in the end).
5. I HAVE BEEN ENLIGHTENED. That is why I have been chosen to pass my unmistakeable message to the lesser of you.

Sometimes I heard "We artists..." from the mouth of someone who wrote a book or two about nothing (oh, sorry, reall life of real people), from someone who starred in one mediocre series and after it is known for commercials of laundry detergent.
I'm tired. That is why, instead of reading the flood of modern novels, I read Akutagawa's "Cogwheel" for the hundredth time.
Because, obviously, writing is not that simple as people think.
What will we remember from the wave, from the tsunami of modern novels and poetry? One name? Two? Who was the last discovered by me? Orson Scott Card? 20 years ago? (I don't count Akutagawa and Rimbaud). Murakami Haruki? Please, his writing in Japanese is on the level of every good student of Japanese Studies. Yoshimoto Banana? Give me a break, another hectic writing with no purpose.

Why, for the love of ink, everyone think they possessed the key to the truth and are bound to reveal it to us?
Oh, and another funny thing. Whenever I read the review of some sci-fi book, I have almost 100% certainty I will find the words like these: "The science-fiction is just a camouflage to show us our true society, to show us our true fears and selves, it's just a writer's twist." Sci-fi is regarded, at least here, as something of lesser quality. If a novel is really good, but it happens to be of pure sci-fi kind, the critics alway say something like above. They cannot accept that sci-fi ("ah, yes, green men and saucers") surpass nowadays every other kind of prose. And maybe yes, maybe sometimes there is our condition dressed in sci-fi clothes, but sometimes it's just sci-fi. Let's face it.

Writing is not that easy. Writing about non-existing countries is harder than about the real ones. Because, ultimately, to describe is easier than create.