Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Jimmy Abad's Talk Part Two

Now form is the bottom-line consideration when we regard the literary work as a work of art.

We said earlier that creative writing is that process of imagining by which a form or structure is imposed on the writer's material which is language.

That form is the very form of a human experience that has been simulated by a particular use of language.

Without a masterful use of language, no literary work can rise to the level of art.

For the writer, poem or short story is only a convenient label; when they write they do not adhere to any fixed criteria or theory of the literary work. They only aspire to creating something unique in their playing field which is the field of imagination; they make things anew or make new things.

This is why we need to restore to our reading of the literary text the performance of the text itself precisely by attending first to its form.

Form is "achieved content." (Mark Schorer). When Jose Y. Dalisay, Jr., was asked whether his stories are true, he said, Yes, because "on the page," where the story is, "is the life that matters." That life is achieved by the story's form.

Form is the matter of art, content the matter of interpretation.

In Horace's critical dictum, dulce et utile, "delightful and instructive, " I should think that utile refers to the literary work's content, which is the matter of interpretation, and dulce to the form that has been wrought, by which the content is achieved – that is, endowed with the meaningfulness of a human experience. Not a fixed meaning, but meaningfulness.

The appreciation of the form of the literary work is that which must direct and validate the interpretation of its content. Only then might a critique, from some theoretical standpoint – say, a Marxist or feminist perspective – be brought to bear on the poem's or the story's subject as interpreted.



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