Monday, February 18, 2013

Timothy Findlay on the nature of writing, madness and the relationship of dance and theatre to his writing...


“It’s vicious being a writer...one of the worst things is the inner demand that you be professional. You have to be a professional. You have to be utterly disciplined about whatever you’re ding, which is to say you have to make yourself do the thing your integrity has told you is the right thing to do, despite all the fearful and cautionary advice you get from your mind. All authors are whispered to by their characters. The characters want life, and you have to give it to them. It’s a little like rape, with no recourse to abortion. They take your body, and you have to give birth. So ‘professionalism’ is obedience, to be obedient to the whispering inside of you, among others...”



(1971)


“I don’t make the map before I go...It’s all a question of recognition on my part. Testing the inner thing, whether it’s instinct or whatever you’re trusting. Trusting instinct does mean dispensing with your internal editor, but, rather, being willing to set it aside in order to explore areas of thought and experience that may be painful, frightening, and fraught with various taboos...”


(1984)

“...the mad person can see things—the heart of things. Of hurt, for instance—that we do not see, because he or she has no protective walls: one thing about the ‘mad’, you see, is they don’t like lies. So this is why I seize so often upon these people as the heroes of my work. It’s only because they have this straight, flung-out connection through the mind to some kind of absolute clarity. And this is what fiction is about: achieving the clarity obscured by facts.”


(1990)

“...take dance. What a dancer does is make a series of statements. And the statements are made out of gestures: gestures in a sequence. So words – words are the vocabulary of literate gesture. And the combination of your words have be a precise as the combination of gestures used by a dancer to make an articulate statement in dance. And there’s something else, I think to be said about this. You know, when you learn to dance–when you learn to move—you learn to move from the centre of your body: from the solar plexus—from the diaphragm. You learn that everything must originate and grow outward towards the conclusion of the gesture: the formation of the statement. And, as an actor, when you learn how to speak—you learn to speak from there: from the centre—from the diaphragm. And, oddly enough—and here we come to the writing—when a sentence hits—or when a paragraph hits—that’s where it hits. In the solar plexus...Words in a sentence are a written gesture. And if the cadence is wrong—if the rhythm is wrong—if a single syllable is out of place—the sentence fails...the book fails. Why? Because you have failed to impel the reader forward with every gesture...right to the ‘fingertips’—all the way from the solar plexus. That’s where books are written. That’s where readers read.”


(1992)

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