What Is Artful?

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polymath
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What Is Artful?

Post by polymath » July 26th, 2011, 11:17 am

Simple answers; difficult to do. One, drama is artful. Two, prose that doesn't call undue attention to itself is artful.

What is drama? Certainly not two people having a heated discussion in a public place where anyone nearby can overhear, though that usage of the term is one of the frequently used ones. There's drama there in the senses the argument logically has a cause and it's tense and antagonistic and it has a beginning, middle, and ending. But not if the audience has little to no clue about those facets and the underlying dramatic conflict of the argument; in other words, the plot. Those facets do need to be appreciated by an audience in order to engage in the participation mystique. You know, take sides.

Prose that calls attention to itself disrupts a participation mystique because It signals a writer's guiding, if not omnipotent, influence. Readers become aware of the writer mediating the action, opening narrative distance between readers and a narrative's immediate setting or meaning space so wide a supertanker could plow through the gap. An awkward word. Bump. Clumsy syntax. Bump. Overly clever wordplay. Bump. Excessive, untimely, injudicious recital--the dreaded tell or diegesis. Bump, Bump, Bump. To name a few offenders.
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wordranger
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Re: What Is Artful?

Post by wordranger » July 26th, 2011, 9:53 pm

When you talk about being artful, I think many try to create “art” for the sake of “art” and end up with something that is very hard to read. For me, if it doesn’t flow… if it isn’t “natural” then it doesn’t draw me in.

The really great author is the one who can make me totally forget that I am reading a book. The one who bores me being “artful” is the one whose book I put down, and frankly, probably never finish.

Now… the writer who can infuse just the right amount of “art” without boring me is a genius. :)
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GKJeyasingham
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Re: What Is Artful?

Post by GKJeyasingham » July 26th, 2011, 10:36 pm

polymath wrote:Prose that calls attention to itself disrupts a participation mystique because It signals a writer's guiding, if not omnipotent, influence. Readers become aware of the writer mediating the action, opening narrative distance between readers and a narrative's immediate setting or meaning space so wide a supertanker could plow through the gap. An awkward word. Bump. Clumsy syntax. Bump. Overly clever wordplay. Bump. Excessive, untimely, injudicious recital--the dreaded tell or diegesis. Bump, Bump, Bump. To name a few offenders.
Hmm...I both agree and disagree! In many cases, the writer should be able to disappear and let the prose become "invisible" to the reader. But what about poetic prose? It may well avoid things like awkward diction and clumsy syntax, but it does bring attention to itself. Nevertheless, it can play a vital role in some stories (Michael Ondaatje's THE ENGLISH PATIENT is the first novel that comes to mind here). If that novel's prose was any different, its effect on the reader and its messages would almost completely vanish. The same can be said about the prose in Woolf's TO THE LIGHTHOUSE, as well.

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polymath
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Re: What Is Artful?

Post by polymath » July 26th, 2011, 11:20 pm

GKJeyasingham wrote:Hmm...I both agree and disagree! In many cases, the writer should be able to disappear and let the prose become "invisible" to the reader. But what about poetic prose? It may well avoid things like awkward diction and clumsy syntax, but it does bring attention to itself. Nevertheless, it can play a vital role in some stories (Michael Ondaatje's THE ENGLISH PATIENT is the first novel that comes to mind here). If that novel's prose was any different, its effect on the reader and its messages would almost completely vanish. The same can be said about the prose in Woolf's TO THE LIGHTHOUSE, as well.
Touching simultaneously on wordranger's comment and yours, GKJeyasingham, the paradox, if you will, or dichotomy, as it were, of reconciling poetic prose calling attention to itself and invisible prose not calling attention to itself follows by keeping close narrative distance in either case to a narrative's immediate time, place, and situation of setting, and characters' viewpoints and so forth so the writer's setting, etc., doesn't intrude upon or unsettle the participation mystique. Unless, of course, the writer's reported setting is the narrative's setting, as is often the case with personal narratives, and was a longstanding and noble tradition for fiction not so long ago, though long enough ago where it's considered out of vogue lately.

This, yes, A-number one.
wordranger wrote:The really great author is the one who can make me totally forget that I am reading a book.
Give readers such a private, intimate experience they are transported to a narrative's setting as at least invisible bystanders if not a feeling of unwitting participation in the mystique. That's artful.
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Re: What Is Artful?

Post by washingtonwriter1968 » July 26th, 2011, 11:57 pm

why does an argument in any situation have the word artful in it? Am argument in my opinion has but one purpose to to display the opinions, character and conflict within your story! Done right an argument will in and of itself say more about your MC than hours of exposition. As an inciting argument it it makes the conflict clear. especially when you unravel the reasons and purposes for the reactions immediately after the argument. Of course it does depend on where the argument occurs.
For instance. My MC and on of my two important characters have an argument , but they have it in the close intimacy of a lunch room table. This to some may seem public. But I happen to know that most of the time a Jr. or High school tables are loud and frankly most people are trying very hard not to know what is going on at other tables. Unless my Characters are screaming most people would not know an argument is occurring. I know poly you suggested at one time that a argument should be done else where,away from supervision. I do not believe there is such a place anymore,in school. What with all the litigation that has occurred.

It is difficult to not alienate your reader if you have your MC to be argumentative to quickly but I think it can be dome.
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Re: What Is Artful?

Post by polymath » July 27th, 2011, 12:32 am

washingtonwriter1968 wrote:why does an argument in any situation have the word artful in it?
An artful argument in terms of literature is to me one that's report is so fully realized I feel strong emotional stimulation. Do I cringe? Flinch? Take sides? Join in, though I cannot really? Flee? Am I hurt? Outraged? Sickened? Saddened? Traumatized? Gleeful because my side scores on points? Inspired because some points open my eyes to an underappreciated perception? That's an artful argument.
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