Monday, September 20, 2010

Shame vs. ignominy

"The law of ‘find your voice’ and ‘write what you know’ originates in a phenomenon perhaps most clearly documented by the blog and book Stuff White People Like: the loss of cultural capital associated with whiteness, and the attempts of White People to compensate for this loss by displaying knowledge of non-white cultures. Hence Stuff White People Like #20, ‘Being an Expert on Your Culture’, and #116, ‘Black Music that Black People Don’t Listen to Anymore’. Non-white, non-college-educated or non-middle or upper-class people may write what they know, but White People have to find the voice of a Vietnamese woman impregnated by a member of the American army that killed her only true love."

Great Elf Batman article on MFA writing.

PS: Don't like this bit: "As long as it views writing as shameful, the programme will not generate good books, except by accident [...] if everyone wrote like Eggers, what would happen to the novel?" If everyone wrote like Dave (in the sense of writing with serious and reflexive ethical curiosity, not in the sense of liking to say "adobe" and "frisbee") then whatever happened to the novel, it would be far less interesting than whatever would have already happened to the world. Not that "overcoming culture" isn't more stuff white people like.

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