Thursday, September 22, 2016

A FRESH START FOR FICTION -- ALAIN ROBBE-GRILLET





"Even the least "conditioned" observer is unable to look
at the world which surrounds him with entirely unprejudiced
eyes. There is no question of reviving that naive concern for
objectivity at which the analyst of the soul (subjective) finds
it so easy to smile. Objectivity in the general sense of the
term—total impersonality of observation—is all too evidently
an illusion. But freedom of observation should be possible,
and yet, unfortunately, it is not. At every instant, a continuous
fringe of culture (psychology, ethics, metaphysics, etc.)
is being added to things, disguising their real strangeness,
making them more comprehensible, more reassuring. Sometimes
the camouflage is complete: a gesture slips from our
mind, supplanted by the emotions which supposedly produced
it, and we remember a landscape as austere or calm without
being able to evoke a single outline, a single determining
element. Even if we immediately think, "That's literary," we
don't try to react against it. We accept the fact that what is
literary (the word has become pejorative) functions as a
screen set with bits of variously colored glass that fracture
our field of vision into tiny assimilable facets.
And if something resists this systematic appropriation of
the visual, if an element of the world breaks in on us without
finding any place in the interpretive screen, we can always
make use of our convenient category of the "absurd" to absorb
this awkward residue.

But the world is neither significant nor absurd. It is, quite
simply. That, in any case, is the most remarkable thing about
it. And suddenly this evidence strikes us with irresistible force.
All at once the whole beautiful construction collapses: opening
our eyes to the unexpected, we have experienced once
too often the shock of this stubborn reality we were pretending
to have mastered. Around us, defying the mob of our animistic
or protective adjectives, the things are there. Their
surfaces are clear and smooth, intact, neither dubiously glittering,
nor transparent. All our literature has not yet
succeeded in penetrating their smallest corner, in softening
their slightest curve."


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