Thursday, September 30, 2004

Writing, elaboration, paranoia?

"I think that's pretty much how it is. You can't always see, I think, the reality of what we're doing in the pathological variant, because all—most—behavior has a pathological bearing. And writing and creating something is about elaboration. You have a few elements. You build something. You elaborate until you have something that looks like something. And elaboration is, of course, the device of paranoia. If you read texts written by paranoiacs, they're syntactically correct, the orthography is all right, but the content is insane, because they start on a series of axioms that are out of synch. And the elaboration is absolutely fantastic. It goes on and on and on. You can see from that that the degree of elaboration is not a measure of the truth. And that is exactly the same problem, certainly, in prose fiction: you have to elaborate. You have one image, and you have to make something of it—half a page, or three-quarters, or one and a half—and it only works through linguistic or imaginative elaboration. Of course, you might well think during the course of this process that you are directing some form of sham reality."

W G Sebald

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