The joy of stream of consciousness writing
A journey into the deep silence
Hi all — first off, please tell us about your trip back to the Middle Ages:
I just finished Jon Fosse’s mesmerizing novel, The Other Name: Septology I-II — the first of a 3-book stream of consciousness about life, death, god and art. The novel takes the form of a single, 351-page sentence that ends without a period so the next book begins where the last one left off.
I’ve always loved stream of consciousness writing, but I’ve treated the form as more of a ‘writing playground’ than one for ‘serious prose.’
To me, this book is a beautiful illustration of how that does not have to be the case. Watch as the writer begins describing his neighbor’s house upkeep before casting his own judgments and then ending up in… the void:
“And so there's a lot to do on a farm, the buildings need a lot of work, Asleik says
and he says that he's tried to the best of his ability to take good care of the buildings, the house, the barn, the outbuilding, the smokehouse, the boathouse, but in recent years he'd let things go a bit, so the house needed painting, well in fact all the buildings did, yes, they’ve needed it for a while, but the avalanche might still come, he was sure about that, and the time was approaching, the time was always coming closer and closer, and so that's why he'd let things go a bit, since there wasn't much reason to paint the house, or the other buildings, yes, or maintain them in other ways either, when the avalanche was going to come any day now, that's how he saw it, but now thoughts like that weren't exactly pearls of wisdom, no, really they were more like an excuse not to do any-thing, a kind of cover for his own laziness, it was crazy really, everyone before him had done so much to keep up the farm, and the buildings had stood there all that time and they were still there, the same as they'd always been, yes, the house, the barn, the shed, the smoke-house, the boathouse, and a lot of work had gone into all of them, done by both of his parents, his grandparents, his great-grandparents, his great-great-grandparents, however far back in time you wanted to go, but there wasn't much point in going back too much farther than the grandparents, that's what he thought, the rest was part of the great silence, he said, that's more or less how he thought of it, and there's not really anything that you can think about what's part of the great silence, there's no point, it's just there, it just is what it is, yes, he says
Yes, I say
The great silence, he says”
It’s one thought to the next, not always coherent but always connected on some deeper level (plus, as I often like to point out, there are no big words in here). From what I can tell, this is how my mind works. It’s really something to see it on a page.
When you throw out the rules and begin to mess with form, you give yourself the freedom to push your writing to new places. I hope you’ll try it out.
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