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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Structure vs. Character

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 12:00 PM

“… Reality is not a given whole. An understanding of this,
a respect for the contingent, is essential to imagination
as opposed to fantasy. Our sense of form, which is an
aspect of our desire for consolation, can be a danger to
our sense of reality as a rich receding background.
Against the consolations of form, the clean crystalline
work, the simplified fantasy-myth, we must pit the
destructive power of the now so unfashionable naturalistic
idea of character.

Real people are destructive of myth, contingency is
destructive of fantasy and opens the way for imagination.
Think of the Russians, those great masters of the contingent.
Too much contingency of course may turn art into journalism.
But since reality is incomplete, art must not be too much
afraid of incompleteness. Literature must always represent a
battle between real people and images; and what it requires
now is a much stronger and more complex conception of the
former.”

— Iris Murdoch, January 1961, “Against Dryness

See also the recent posts Structure and Character.

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