Thursday, October 21, 2004

Didactic Writing/Research

William Gibson talks about writing, and didactic novels, arguing that a novel loses aesthetic quality if it seeks to further a point of view. In another way of saying it,
...no genuinely valuable interrogation of reality can take place, and the result will be a literary virtuality built as exclusively from the author's expressed political philosophy as that author can manage. This is best understood, an excellent teacher of mine said, by asking ourselves whether or not a fascist can write a good novel.

...A fascist can't write a good novel because writing a good novel, in the end, is about relinquishing control of the text.
In a way, this could be true for research as well. In theoretical work we often possess a hammer, and go hunting nails to pound, but some of the best kind of research is the kind that beautifully slots into the problem being addressed, to the extent that one can only say 'How else could this problem have been tackled ?', and yet, possesses a generality (akin to universal truths in good literature) that appeals to our shared aesthetic of beauty and enriches the field as a whole.
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