Sunday, 13 June 2010

Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois

How many mediocre, petty-minded, convention-bound writers have consoled themselves with Flaubert's famous words to to Gertrude Tennant (December 25, 1876): 'Soyez réglé dans votre vie et ordinaire comme un bourgeois, afin d'être violent et original dans vos œuvres.' Of course the second portion of this sentiment does not flow inevitably, or even naturally, from the first. Of course in 90% of writers, being regular and orderly in their life like a bourgeois does nothing more than enable them to produce regular, orderly and bourgeois art. Moreover, there's the question of habit: as with any drug, prolonged exposure to regularity and order in life alters the brain chemistry, until regularity and orderliness become the whole horizon of art. Let's say you wish to be violent and original in your work. Fair enough. Then be violent and original in your work, by (as Malcolm X might say) any means necessary. You'll need to discover the means for yourself, you know.

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