Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thoughts on The Craft -- c.anne.gardner

Love knows no virtue, no merit; it loves and forgives and tolerates everything because it must. We are not guided by reason. -- Leopold von Sacher-Masoch

Masoch was the author of the infamous “Venus in Furs” a brilliant treatise on obsessive desperation in love. Masoch was also considered the poet of Masochism after having been awarded the illustrious title in 1886 by the Austrian psychiatrist Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing in his book Psychopathia Sexualis where he named this “sexual proclivity” after Masoch.

The quote struck me not because it speaks to the limitless bounds of love, or because I write about obsessive love such as Masoch did. No, it wasn’t that. It struck me because sometimes being a writer feels like an extremely masochistic endeavour. I’ll make a few changes to the quote and you’ll see what I mean:

The word knows no virtue, no merit; it loves and forgives and tolerates everything because it must. Authors are not guided by reason.

By that I mean the word allows for endless possibilities: poetry and magic, beauty and horror. We, as writers, are not guided by reason: we are guided by instinct. We write what we see and feel to be true, and the worlds we create have boundaries that are at best illusory. The substance, the pathology of a story -- its truth if you will -- is never more than a subtle betrayal hidden within the ambiguity of the word. Illusion. That’s what writing fiction is about, in my opinion. Suffering in the dark to create a believable illusion. How masochistic is that?

Cheryl Anne Gardner


Jim Murdoch said...

No, we're not guided by reason but we are searching for it. We know it's there, in the dark, and we use words (because that is all we have) as stepping stones to get to it.

Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

Amen to that Jim.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking the other day about writing.


I have wondered about the point of it (what is the point of anything?), what good (if any) it will do, whether it's something I do simply because I can or whether I do it because I love it.

You know. Those kinds of thoughts.

And then, lying in bed one night after a fight, I thought about the day and about a passage I'd written that I was particularly proud of.

And, even after the fight, I smiled, and I felt happy.

And I thought, "How lucky I am to have this other love in my life."

Without it, everything I have would be ALL I have. And everything I have is wonderful - don't get me wrong - but to have THIS?

I must have THIS.

Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

Agreed Kristen.

I think artists are particularly lucky in that we have an alternative way to articulate our emotions. We create truth through illusion and that is something when you really think about it.

I suppose that's why writers and all artists in general really "love" their craft. It is an extension of the soul in the most pure and honest sense of the word.