Hello Monarch Writers!
Join our writing critique and discussion group either in person (St. Louis Area) with MEETUP.com or online with our GOODREADS.com forums
Below are the details of the next Monday Monarch Writers Meeting. It will be another special Potluck Meet. Click the link just below to R.S.V.P. so I can send you my address and leave a comment with what you’re bringing.
We’re continuing our opening dive into the study of Literary Theory and discussion of the influential and difficult article by Michel Foucault ‘WHAT IS AN AUTHOR?’ and survey of the free Yale Lecture Course on Youtube.com ‘Introduction to Theory of Literature’.
We’re doing another potlatch (aka potluck) dinner for the writers group, this time with Spanish/Mexican dishes, perhaps some food that has a little bit of SPICE. Why spice? Because we’ll be discussing how rules of form and technical considerations of the craft impose constraints on the artists, yes, but they also can free us from that imposing, yawning abyss of the blank page, that absolute-anything that terrifies us into paralysis, hurling so many options our way that we are crushed beneath the weight of them all! And how these bland, seemingly base foundations allow us to run free above them, once we have them firmly strapped into the dish, to embellish with flair our own personal ingredients to set fire to the whole affair.
We need to jump into studying Literary Theory. It’s such a big topic that I advise trying to learn a bit on your own as we go, and recommend checking out a few sources to follow along with the group in the coming months, to get a bit of perspective on what we’re discussing. Questions like ‘what is literature’, ‘what should writing do?’ ‘what is fiction or poetry for’? Big questions for writers like ‘Why do I write?’ That you might really want to find an answer for, or maybe just want to see what other people have said, and already have an answer you are pretty satisfied with.
In order to dive right into the discussion, we’re looking at a difficult article and starting the free youtube course of Literary Theory from Yale University. The article, which Professor Fry discusses toward the end of the second lecture, is ‘What Is An Author’ by Michel Foucault (available readily online). And as he lays it out, it speaks to a lot of the big issues and, if you can plow through all the philosophy and literary history packed into the first two lectures, to kind of arrive at the idea that, okay, we’re talking about – how do we read a ‘text’ (buzzword for any work, -fiction, poem, or if you’re being clever, a Fox News segment is a ‘text’ you’re critiquing), how we can turn our kaleidoscope to pick out patterns of meaning from diverse perspectives, perhaps which cut through the ideas with a sharp knife and reveal things that are very revealing about the author, things that strip the author-emperor of their clothes, or just find interesting new ideas, the way you would find the relations of compartments and machinery exposed in a cross-section view of a battleship in a picture book on the Navy.
That’s where this Foucault article ‘What is An Author’ is coming from -from the perspective of looking at texts from such vivisecting points of view- what role is there for the person who, though the creator of the life we are peeking into, has officially released it into the world, like a parent’s child, ‘It’ has left the nest.
As the Yale Lecture says, this was written in the 60’s when ‘author’ meant ‘authority’ and ‘authority’ always conjured up ‘cops’. This provides very interesting contrapuntal theme to the populist ‘anything I believe is truth and anything that contradicts is a lie’ Fascist Theology disease going around these days. Skepticism of the idea of authority, the idea of power, is not the same thing as saying, ‘we should debase expertise and anything someone who has studied a great deal to learn can be simply intuited by someone brazen enough.’
Recommend reading this before the meeting and trying to watch the first two Yale videos, at least before the potluck on the third Monday of the month, so we can have a great discussion together. And as always, I want us to bring it back to what YOU’re writing, what YOU’re working on. So jot down some notes on how it applies to those perspectives, and bring them in to share!
Good Hunting, Writers,