Thursday, July 12, 2012

Craft Is Not The Enemy, But It Ain't Everything. - Parabasis:

I believe craft is very important. I am not a craft-is-the-enemy type of person. As an artist, you should be striving to make your work ever better and working to expand your toolbox so that your work can do more. One hopes that writers are working on crafting great sentences. Certainly, on the book I'm working on, I'm working on doing this, and working fairly hard at it. But it worries me that Cunningham is so overly obsessed with sentences, because there's all sorts of things one misses when that's all they pay attention to. Particularly with the rise of the "lyric essay,"-- a form where, often, the nothing your essay has to say gains value by being said beautifully and where structural thorniness is its own reward regardless of what it has to do with content-- I worry that we're starting to value composition above all else. Furthermore, as craft can be taught easily while the ineffable action of a work cannot, I worry that we've started to judge work on the very checklist Cunningham articulates here as being inadequate rather than recognizing how few good-to-great books actually obey most of the craft works we're teaching.