Monday, July 23, 2012

follow the brush

A phrase that makes me think about writing. I read an essay called In Praise of Shadows by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki. He wrote the meandering piece in 1933. In 48 pages he shifts from architecture to lacquer bowls and discusses light and darkness. The places of shadow in between. His thoughts took me back to my time in Japan. To ideas and insights I forgot. Thomas Harper wrote an afterward. I’m happy he didn’t write a usual preface. Harper discussed the Japanese way of writing that has no structure. I’m used to a beginning, a middle and an end. Harper explains the Japanese way of “following the brush”, what we often call a stream of consciousness. Stream of consciousness is a general term. I know one when I read one. I follow the brush often without having named it. I allow myself to write. But there’s place for structure. People need structural writing that reads with a purpose when purpose is appropriate. Yet, I don’t want to write in a wandering way just to wander. Perhaps this is defeating the purpose of writing if writing is too self-conscious. In other words, if I’m aware of the method or style, does that detract from the act of writing. I want to write with an outcome. I want to make things. I’m learning to balance the process and the longing for a good product. Following the brush makes sense today. But I want to file that away into what I know I don’t realize I already know and just dip the brush in dark black ink and start moving.

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