Saturday, 25 August 2007

The rough edges

It may be that an increasing professionalisation of writing, linked to increasing levels not only of functional literacy but semiotic and metacultural literacy, have resulted in cultural production that is much more technically finished, smoother and more polished than has ever existed before. But something is lost in this, as well as gained. A work such as--to pick an example--Macbeth, though it contains some of the very best writing in English, is rough-edged; it enacts a sort of violence upon literary texture and form. I don't mean this only in the obvious sense that the play is full of characters being violent to other characters, nor in the sense that many of its images are 'violent' or wrenching to convention. I mean something more: there's a powerful unfinished jaggedness in the weft and warp of the piece; a quality a writer can only achieve by forcing the writing at pressure, not spending too much time blotting the words. Something that articulates the necessarily rough-edged way experience presents itself to us; or perhaps it would be more accurate to say, the necessarily rough-edged way our sensoria access that experience.

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