Friday, August 18, 2017

Art That Uses Words: Words Beyond Words

"When you can state the theme of a story, when you can separate it from the story itself, then you can be sure the story is not a very good one. The meaning of a story has to be embodied in it, has to be made concrete in it. A story is a way to say something that can't be said any other way, and it takes every word in the story to say what the meaning is. You tell a story because a statement would be inadequate. When anybody asks what a story is about, the only proper thing is to tell him to read the story. The meaning of fiction is not abstract meaning but experienced meaning, and the purpose of making statements about the meaning of a story is only to help you to experience the meaning more fully." -Flannery O'Connor

On Parshat He'ezinu, Nechama Leibowitz says something quite similar about poetry and how it can't be simply decoded into other words because if it could be then those were the words that would have been used in the first place.


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