Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Blog Report: "The Constipated Writer"

This is the name of a famous lit-blog. You know it well. The name of it looks different sometimes, but "The Constipated Writer" is its real name all the same because it expresses the blog's fully achieved purpose. It's written, of course, by: The Constipated Writer!

The Constipated Writer's self-appointed task is to embalm literature as one would an insect in amber. To keep it static, unmoving, never changing. To turn literature not into a living flowing servant of our imaginations, but into a rock planted on the shore for eternity as the river of culture passes it by. The Constipated Writer-- famed lit-blogger-- sits on that rock watching currents of the future leave him behind. For this he's happy.

To achieve his task the Constipated Writer makes it his mission to discourage as many original writers as possible. He does this through his collection of rules. They exist in a moldy book as thick as a manual of government regulations, always handy in the steel-drawer desk of his mind when needed to pull forth to cite chapter and verse; Title 89, Section 40DD, paragraph 5, subsection (g).

The Constipated Writer is a literary bureaucrat whose manual is all he has to cling to, lacking-- like all good bureaucrats-- any spark of originality or imagination. He constructs competent papers, yes, which are copies of many thousands of similar papers produced over the past decades; recycled thoughts and analyses noteworthy only for their fidelity of similarity to what hundreds of other literary bureaucrats on other blogs are also producing; showing the wisdom of loyalty to the machine. The manual, in fact, shows how to write such papers. "Creative Writing Rulebook #501," a thousand pages long. The Constipated Writer follows the manual religiously.

Why, he thinks, without rules we have nothing! It would be the road away from order into chaos, into new territory. One might think that future writing will look different from what we have today. The idea of this, to him, is frightening. "We must not abandon the rules!" he cries out. He searches the landscape for unknown young writers who don't follow the rules, who break away from the System he's made it his Loyal Duty to defend. The obedient lapdog! Wearing on his chest a brass medallion with the words "Literary Bureaucrat" upon it. A servile flunkie.

The bridge troll monitors writings on other sites-- but not what the writings say, their truths or facts. How they affect the reader doesn't matter to him. It's not his job to be swayed by such considerations! Are the forms in triplicate, properly completed? If not, anything said on them is meaningless. They must be stamped in red bureaucratic ink "REJECTED" and returned to the offending party. (The Constipated Writer's behavior marks him as the essence of mediocrity. He wraps himself in this, taking pride in the fact.)

Case in point: A story has come to his attention. Intolerable! He's crying in frustration. The writer isn't playing by the rules! He's instead striving for new ways to look at the world; different ways to express things-- INSTEAD of writing his story the same controlled constipated way. Anarchist! Look, look! The Constipated Writer is desperate to show what he means.

"What is this, 'explodes from the room'" The Constipated Writer asks? "Is a man a firecracker that he explodes?" Forget that now the reader can see the actions of the character better. This should not be the aim! The rules; the rules! The goal isn't to entertain the reader! The goal always every instance all the time without exception should be to write PROPERLY. It's to follow the rules. Otherwise the literary universe won't proceed comfortably; our precious Literature won't stay "our own thing"-- the Constipated Writer's cherished baby-- but might instead reach out to other people, who may accidentally incautiously look at a website or pick up a zeen and enjoy what they read.

This Malvolio-- Champion of the Safe and the Bland-- is more of a mindset than a person. Himself brainwashed, he represents the brainwashing of "craft" which leaves us with literary story after literary story that's polished, refined, gutted, similar, dull to the eye, dead to the brain, fit for leaving the reader sleepy and yawning, but ready for the approval of monitoring bureaucrats like the Constipated Writer.

(Have a happy Thanksgiving everybody-- or at least a survivable one!)