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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: March ::
Re: Writing from Experience
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0442  Friday, 12 March 1999.

From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Thursday, 11 Mar 1999 17:30:01 -0000
Subject:        Re: Writing from Experience (was $ in Love)

Stephanie Hughes writes

>Even the most cursory study of the lives of great artists should show
>that the best art does indeed arise from what Terrence Hawkes calls
>these "deeply corrupting presuppostions," namely that great art arises
>from personal experience, and that artists write (paint, compose,
>choreograph) with most credibility and passion when they are dealing
>with personal issues.

Let us suppose for a moment that Hughes's claim in granted. Does that
mean science fiction cannot be among "the best art" because the writer
has not been to distance galaxies? If what is great about great science
fiction is how experiences lived on Earth are shown to be applicable
elsewhere in the universe, the entire genre need not exist and SF
writers might as well about life on Earth.

Experience might well matter, but even within liberal humanist
conceptions of art there is an important role for imagination, for going
beyond what you've known and felt. And I suggest that neither experience
nor imagination is going to take one far in accounting for what James
Joyce is up to in Finnegan's Wake.

>Science, IF read right, has much to tell us. One of the
>things it insists upon is that you can't get something from nothing

Alas this is quite untrue. In a vacuum a proton/anti-proton pair will
spontaneously appear and move away from one another.  While the total
energy will remain nil (since they cancel each other out) you certainly
can get two somethings from nothing.

Gabriel Egan

PS: There were a number of "scare quote" marks in this posting, but in
the light of recent discussions I've realized that I don't know what
they are for so I've removed them.
 

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