Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The real McCoy, in carnis

In case you were wondering, my story "From the Forest Itself", which I recently posted here, about the man writing his life from within that story, really was/is written on ten sheets of beige paper. Like so:

For a while, that flimsy little guy was one my best friends in the world; and he is someone I will always cherish. He is tucked safely in my letters bin.

Typically, a literary work of art is produced either in order to say something or in order to evince a certain feeling. In those cases, the potency of the objet d'art is rooted in its message or its technical skill. By contrast, the sheer existence of this story is itself the act of art. From an aesthetic perspective, I'm actually less concerned with the contents of the story than with the very existence of it as an enduring "echo" of live creativity. It is a "living fossil" of a once fully active and yet incomplete artistic effort. Even with -- or, rather, precisely because of -- its imperfections as a message or technical production, "From the Forest Itself" makes permanent and tactile the transient and intangible process of creativity.

The story exists, in human terms, as if we humans were fully constituted by the experience our parents had while conceiving us. Fortunately for us (or not), we are not defined for life by the qualitative aspects of our conception; but "From the Forest Itself" is so defined. What happened in the creative action itself formed this story's entire being. Its what is its how. It is constituted, therefore, not by what it says, how well it says it, nor even by how well it is received. Rather, it is constituted by its own existence in the moment-by-moment swirl of creativity which it embodies over the span of ten pages. While it was being written, it was "live" -- yet incomplete and unborn. Once it was written, however, it was "dead" -- yet fully complete and immortal. As ungainly as it may sound (to me and you), this story is more a metaphysical than a literary work of art.

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