Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Alternatives to explanation

1. Don’t write at all. Don’t say a word. Be communicative by remaining silent.

2. Describe things, but as soon as you think about illuminating the whys and wherefores, stop. Go back over your writing. If you find that you slipped up, remove the offending passages.

3. Walk, walk, walk. Sooner or later something will distract you.

4. Make your writing so intensely personal that no one would even think that you were trying to explain something.

5. Confront your need to explain. Know where the thing is that you want to explain and then avoid it at all costs. Write around it, but never touch it. It will glow the way that phosphorescent fish in the water do.

6. There’s always more than one route to the same place; another way to say this is that multiple routes go to the same place. Find one of the other routes to the thing and describe it. Your reader will wind up in the same place, as if by magic.

7. Tell a story, but don’t say why.

James Pritchett (John Cage scholar at Princeton)

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