Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

V For Venn Diagram

Voice: What many people mean when they say "style" -- the rhythmic and rhetorical constructions in syntax, the dialect and jargon of vocabulary, the discourse patterns by which character is revealed through the text itself. The voice of a narrative may be that of a single viewpoint character, or it may shift with changes in point of view. It may be that of a distinct narrator outside the narrative but unique to that work, or it may be a voice developed by the author and used throughout their work.

Vengeance: Is Mine, saith the Lord. This is all very well. Justice, however, is the domain of Athena, as anyone who has read The Oresteia by Aeschylus should know full well. Anyone who has not read The Oresteia should go and read it now. On you go. I'll wait.

Vicarious Thrills: Often confused with "escapism" by writers and readers attempting to justify their own literary or pulp preferences over those of others, vicarious thrills are what we get from stories where we identify with a protagonist who does lots of Really Cool Things. We would like to do these Really Cool Things, but in this irritatingly rigid reality we can't; so we settle for seeing others do these Really Cool Things, imagining ourselves in their place. The sucky aspect of reality in which we are unable to do these Really Cool Things is what leads to the idea that vicarious thrills automatically render a story "escapist", the assumption being that we, as readers, are seeking no more than a compensatory fantasy, a temporary reprieve from the bleak misery of our banal existence. In truth, the presence of vicarious thrills in a story does not necessitate the absence of mimetic versimilitude or thematic resonance -- which is to say, insight; indeed, the vicarious thrills can often be seen as a series of "left jabs", softening the reader up for an almighty "right hook" which will send them reeling onto the ropes and wondering what the fuck just happened.

Venusian Slime Boys: are green and sexy. One day I shall have a Venusian Slime Boy all of my very own, though this will require a trip to the city of Interzone, a place of decadence and iniquity and rather inconveniently fictional. Regardless of this, I am currently saving up money for my return ticket. I am not overly fond of centipedes but, well, those mugwumps are something else.

Virtue and Vice: The abstraction of ethical judgements of deed into ethical judgements of state. Roman Catholicism posits seven cardinal vices and seven corresponding virtues: Pride & Humility; Envy & Kindness; Wrath & Patience; Sloth & Diligence; Greed & Generosity; Gluttony & Temperance; Lust & Chastity. Applying the principle of the Aristotelian Mean -- the idea that virtue is the middle ground between two vices, one of excess, the other of deficiency -- it is apparent that we have here only half the story. These judgements of (wrongful) excess versus (righteous) restraint immediately raise the question of whether one might not identify another set of complementary virtues and vices which mirror these -- i.e. states of (wrongful) deficiency versus (righteous) adequacy: Shame & Honour; Hauteur & Respect; Timidity & Courage; Zeal & Doubt; Unction & Prudence; Severity & Tolerance; Mortification & Appetence. Where the Catholic set of vices and virtues construct a notion of the Good Christian versus the Wicked Heathen, I would suggest a corresponding model of the Good Heathen (a person of Honour, Respect, Courage, Doubt, Prudence, Indulgence, Tolerance & Appetence) and the Wicked Christian (a person of Shame, Hauteur, Timidity, Zeal, Unction, Severity & Mortification).

Vacant: We're so pretty, oh so pretty... we're vacant. We're so pretty, oh so pretty... we're vacant. We're so pretty, oh so pretty... we're vacant. And we don't care.

Verdant: The colour of vines and veins, viands and victuals, green is viridian, vernal vegetation of a vineyard, venereal disease on a virile member, the viper with its venom. It is Venus as virgin and virago. It is vulgar and it is voracious, the viral and visceral force of appetence. It is the Virgilian pastoral with a snake in the grass. It is vitality and it is vital. We must recover the sexual idyll of our past.

Vellum: There are three dimensions to time, just as there are three dimensions to space. Looking only in front of us and behind us, we see only the frontal dimension of past, present and future. But there is also lateral time, the field of alternative possibilities, parallel worlds in which we took different choices, became different people. If those people are still us then our story must incorporate those other versions, not a straight line from cradle to grave, but a tangle of branches and roots, divergances and convergances, as in some Greek myth expounded by Robert Graves: the people of Thrace tell this story of Dionysus; the people of Athens tell another; Dionysus is the product of all those variant tales. The third dimension of time is the residual, the dead realities beneath us, laid down as sedimental strata of morphologies, metaphysics complexifying through each iteration of a cosmos in a process of involution, of evolution, order emerging out of chaos until we find ourselves here on the solid surface of a world run by scientific principles. Dig down and we might find the graves of gods under our feet, the bones of giants, their more primal realities palimpsested by our own, as a faded text upon a reused scrap of parchment -- the Vellum.

Vision: What many people mean when they say "substance" -- the weavework of observation and insight which is manifested in a work of prose or poetry through direct mimetic representations of, reflective comments upon, and thematic implicities regarding, the world and our role within it, our physical, metaphysical and pataphysical reality. Importance is generally put upon the vision being original -- unique to the writer and new to the reader -- although three thousand years of literature might well lead us to question just how possible it is to say something truly original. In fact, one might well wonder if the most relevant observations and insights are not in fact the most banal and obvious, such patent truisms that we blithely ignore them in our day-to-day life. People die. This is as trite and easy to say as its ramifications are unfathomable and well nigh impossible to accept. This is what I see when I look at the world. It is not a terribly original vision, I would have to say. So sue me.

Vermouth: Just show the bottle to the cocktail shaker. When I say "dry gin Martini" I mean dry.


This meme was brought to you by the letter V (as presented by Ben Peek). If you want to play then post a comment; you shall receive your very own letter for your own blog / journal entry.


Blogger paul f cockburn said...

Confused: do you mean post a comment to Ben Peek, or to you?

5:43 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

Joe: Nah, they're cuter than Treens.

Anyhoo... Hmmm. Ye haven't said if ye wanted a letter, but I'll throw an "R" at you, anyway, to do with as you will.

Paul: Here... like what you have done. And hence I endow thee with the letter "Q", since you were championing it a few weeks back.

5:58 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should come over to livejournal.
More drama, more people, more fun.
I for one would comment more often.

7:57 pm  
Blogger Joe said...

Okay, Hal, I finally got round to doing ten with the letter 'R'. And didn't stoop to mentioned the ragged rascal running round the rugged rocks, not even once :-)

2:11 pm  

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