Monday, August 29, 2011

John Fowles: from Wormholes

I'm slowly working my way through John Fowles' collection of personal essays, literary criticism, memoirs, and other writings. The following are quotations from an essay "I Write Therefore I Am," which he wrote in 1964.

In January of 1963 I decided to leave work. I can't imagine myself as a professional writer. Writing has always been with me a semireligious occupation, by which I certainly don't mean that I regard it with pious awe, but rather that I can't regard it simply as a craft, a job. I know when I am writing well that I am writing with more than the sum of my acquired knowledge, skill, and experience; with something from outside myself.

Inspiration, the muse experience, is like telepathy. Nowadays one hardly dares to say that inexplicable phenomena exist for fear of being kicked in the balls by the positivists and the behaviorists and the other hyperscientists. But there is a metatechnics that needs investigation.

I don't think of myself as "giving up work to be a writer." I'm giving up work to, at last, be.

To a career man, I suppose, the decision would seem lunatic, perhaps even courageous. But a bank vault is secure; an atomic shelter is secure; death is secure. Security is one of the prison walls of the affluent society; even since the pax Romana, being safe has been an unhealthy mega-European obsession

Back in 1964, anyway, he probably would be considered a bit of a romantic--writing as a form of being, inspiration coming from somewhere else, outside himself; disdain for the positivists and "hyperscientists. I could see him getting along comfortably with Keats, Byron, Wordsworth, LeFanu, Blackwood, or M. R. James.

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