I read the opening pages of Thalia Field, ‘Writing as Experimental Practice’ (2014, pp. 324–7) (Chapter 31 in The Handbook of Creative Writing)
Here are the ways that Field defines experimental writing, and my thoughts on how they could change my way of thinking about genre:
- What happens when you open your mind a write about whatever you find there. I think that this is what I do already, so if I follow this recipe then I risk cooking up the same stuff that I’ve always cooked.
- Non-traditional (“polysemous, indeterminate, polyphonic, multi-genre, documentary, meditative, and puts the reader in an unstable position vis-a-vis the work’s meaning”) as opposed to traditional (“oriented to epiphany, closure, and a neat and tidy naturalism where visual details correlate to psychological ones and the author and characters are clear and coherent”). Now, this is where I really get mad because that’s what I did for my second assignment and it was slammed by my tutor. The early bird doesn’t always fare well.
- A way of moving away from the prevailing paradigm (social, cultural, psychological etc.) and towards a presentation of the facts of what is without a ‘moralising or transcendental lens’. Basically, this means taking the example of science by using the scientific/experimental method that uses experiments to find the nature of what is rather than taking things on faith (religion) or following rules and laws (politics (kinda)). Sounds easy when you say it quickly, but art and science are kind of different in those things that are reproducible in the one are not in the other. Next.
- Make it new and make it strange. Defamiliarisation is the name of the game here. That pot you see every day – wouldn’t it be great if it were a vase then a frozen piece of clay then a pre-shattered pile of shards then a part of a star then atoms in a new form then whatever your imagination can dream up. And as for that squeak, squeak, squeak upstairs at midnight – is it really the house settling down for the night? Yes, course it is! I’m all in favour of defamiliarising the world. See things afresh every day.
- The play of the unknown. Not just what you find in your mind but what is not in the mind that can be brought forth from a joining of what is in the world with what our experience of what’s in the world. Take a pinch of the unexpected next-word and join it to a touch of the random and then tie on a piece of an impulse never felt or acted on. Write.
Missed the point about ‘how they could change my way of thinking about genre’. But then again, why tie oneself down to such archaic concepts.