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Roger E. Eichorn's Blog: Fantasy, Philosophy, and whatever else I feel like writing about
(For R. Scott Bakker…)
Artistic conventions. — Three-fourths of Homer is convention; and the same holds true for all the Greek artists, who had no reason to adopt the modern rage for originality. They were completely lacking in any fear of convention; this was precisely what held them together with their public. Conventions, namely, are the aesthetic means that have been conquered for the sake of the audience’s understanding, the laboriously acquired common language with which the artist really can communicate himself. If he, like the Greek poets and musicians, sometimes wants to triumph immediately with each of his works of art—because he is used to contending publicly with one or two competitors—the first condition is that he also be understood immediately: which is, however, possible only by means of convention. What the artist invents beyond the conventions, he voluntarily attaches importance to and wagers himself upon, succeeding in the best of cases in creating a new convention. Originality is ordinarily seen with astonishment, sometimes even worshipped, but rarely understood; stubbornly diverting from convention means: wanting not to be understood. Toward what, then, does the modern rage for originality point?
– Nietzsche, The Wanderer and His Shadow, §122
(Continuing from here…)
The OWW was my own informal MFA program. I posted regularly, from late 1999 through maybe 2002. I put up dozens of chapters (most from that first version of Three Roses), along with a number of short stories (not my strong suit), and hundreds of reviews.
Being a stubbornly ‘self-taught’ high-school dropout, I’d never experienced anything like it before. The feedback I received from the other workshoppers was eye-opening. Perhaps equally important was learning how to assess other people’s works-in-progress. I discovered my latent copyeditor’s obsession with style and punctuation. One workshopper dubbed me “the Dark Lord of the Nits,” because my lists of niggling little questions and corrections sometimes amounted to full-blown copyediting jobs. This was sometimes appreciated, oftentimes not. Cecilia Dart Thornton, for one, went absolutely ballistic when she read my comments on the opening chapter of what would become Book One of The Bitterbynde. (To be fair, I responded to her response in spectacularly ill-advised fashion, and the drama escalated from there.)
Toward the end of my time on the OWW, I put together some of what I had learned about critiquing and being critiqued into a document that is still on the site.
Truth wants no gods beside it. — The belief in truth begins with doubting all the “truths” that have previously been believed.
— Nietzsche, Mixed Opinions and Maxims, §20