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Irony Alert!: This blog may be a tad contrary.

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August 02, 2007

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Pavlov's Cat

"I'm a bit tired of the pseudomysticism which sometimes seems to accompany the idea of being a 'writer'."

OH, yeah. Amen to that.

It all sounds really interesting. Especially the 'need for translation' part. Looking forward to hearing more adventures.

elsewhere

It is interesting...sometimes the content of what people say seems facile, other times it doesn't. Also, various debates in creative nonfiction (CNF) seem to have moved on different ways I can't quite reconstruct yet, especially about the ethics of interviewing and profiling. People have big problems with a lot of what Capote did, for example. When I've heard CNF discussed in Australia, it's often as if the Tom Wolfe generation was 'it', but of course it's moved on since then.

All of the 'faculty' members here have given readings and they've all been very good. They all have good reputations as teachers; there's been no bitching or backbiting about faculty members or other students' writing (tho there has been criticism -- our workshopping has been fairly intense). However, someone pointed out to me that the Faculty only spend a few weeks together each year, so they're probably not tired of each other yet.

I've also been stockpiling creative nonfiction readers to ship back to Australia.

Oh, and I've been told to write for an Australian audience, because that's where my market will be (and where my passion to communicate really lies), tho I have to provide a glossary of terms and endnotes of explanations. My workshop thought that Americans were generally too ethnocentric to want to hear about anywhere else but the States -- except maybe a Harpers-level audience...

ThirdCat

I'm glad to hear you've been told to write for an Australian audience...I was a bit worried that you were going to have to write three things to get one (not that I was tossing and turning all night, just I was concerned).

TPS

It is great to hear that summer camp has a lot to give - and that the people ar so interesting. I also think the 'need for translation' bit is fascinating, and as you say, we encounter this issue all the time in many worlds of cultural communication. I wonder what happens when the need for translation is not met? Surely when we read american prose there is a certain need for translation (to the same extent? I dont know) and I would like to think we bridge this.

Perhaps the american audience is not accustomed to doing this or doesnt feel obliged too. Is that the point of their ethnocentrism?

elsewhere

TC -- glad to know you're not suffering.

TPS -- good question. Re: 'them': Probably a bit of both. I think in the case of my workshop that it was more the case that they weren't used to doing it.
Re: us -- I'm sure there are certain nuances we miss, but on the whole I'm sure it's a bit of both, varies, etc. Thinking about things later, I thought, well, I did watch Sesame Street from the age of three...I knew all about 'trash cans'...and I also watched British playschool (it ran back then when there weren't enough episodes of Australian playschool). Do Australians receive more encouragement to adapt culturally from an early age?

craftydabbler

I've been meaning to comment on this post for a while, but I get all jumbled up trying figure out what it is I want to say and then figuring how to say it.

Candy coating and positivism are rampant in the US. I knew it was to a certain extent, but I've been paying more attention since I read this post. The person who cuts my hair changed her hair color from a lovely dark brunette to an orangey-blond color. The only thing I could think to say was, "Oh, how exciting." (I had asked her if the color was new and then realised I would have to make some sort of positive comment. It was the best I could come up with.)

One of the things that bothers me so much about being an American is that there is so little curiosity about the world. If it is any consolation there often isn't that much interest in exploring what the US is and what it could be. We get an awful lot of canned BS about ourselves and the world when we are in grade school. We, as a nation, don't read. I could go on telling you things you probably already know, but I'm getting depressed.

I didn't know about the word "chook" until I started reading Mother Goose to my daughter. Chook, chook, chook, chook, chook/Good morning Mrs Hen/How many chickens have you got/Madame, I've got ten/Four of them are yellow/And four of them are brown/And two of them are speckled red/The nicest in the town. This was the first poem that she asked for over and over.

Regarding the pseudomysticism of being a writer, I think for me that is because I fear being a bad writer. People who can do it and do it well impress me, and cause a bit of envy. : )

elsewhere

thanks for that. being in the US made me ponder whether our 'cultural cringe' and sense of being at the margins made us Aussies & kiwis more curious about things. Whereas being brought up in the 'centre' of things might make one tend to be less curious.

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