Writing as Knowing

Making language is making knowledge.


Bare with me on this, because these are not new ideas, and yet, I feel that these ideas are kind of lost in the typical way of thinking about things. Writing in that is taught as creative writing is seen as expressive writing and we are taught to be expressive writers by learning how to write with the tools of craft — as if we need to acquire the proper tools and materials, scissors, exacto knives, templates, construction paper — before we can begin to build our mobiles, model houses, memoirs, and poems. However, this sidesteps the critical aspect of the term creative. Creative to me means engagement with the world — and this means a kind of dialogue. In dialogue we question, disagree, and change our minds.

At one time writing was seen as a form of investigation or a way of learning and knowing the world. The scientific method, itself, is essentially one form of lyrical process. Newton’s journals to me seem closer to Lecretius than they do to the current issue of Scientific American. When writers say they use science in their writing, they often mean they use scientific nouns and the odd verb.

Rather to see writing as a form of knowing, is to see at as a form of investigation, then, how does this transform then the act of writing? Writers no longer proceed then with the idea that they are in direct dialogue with other writers. (Although they are in a sense because in this way other writers have already discovered their won continents. James Joyce (as T.S. Elliott has said, has already used the “mythical method”) produced Ulysses and Finnegan’s Wake, Raymond Queneau has already produced a Billion Sonnets, ec.

So, I recently began to think of Regionalism a method, in the way that Surrealism is a method.

The poet Mark Svenvold once said to me that although he likes to think about regionalism it doesn’t make a difference at all when he sits down to confront a blank sheet of paper.

For writers who devise a method of investigation, this isn’t true. The entire enterprise of investigation is the entire point of sitting down with a blank piece of paper. In this way then making language is making knowledge.

Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: