27 July 2006

Beauty as interconnection

From a 1981 interview with William Gass:
There is a view that some ideas are so obnoxious that they can't be put into a form that would be rather beautiful. Some believe there is a conflict between, for example, moral value and aesthetic value, such that viciousness can't be beautiful. I claim it can. One way of doing that is to demonstrate it. It is perfectly possible, it seems to me, for there to be a beautiful anti-Semitic speech. My present work requires me to do just that. So some of it is the challenge of creating something out of garbage, and there's a philosophical point there if you can make it. But also, the words are nothing by themselves until they're placed in relationships. For me, there are no bad words; there are just ill-written things. So the idea is to find contexts so integrated and interconnected that they have the beauty some mathematicians speak of. Everything fits. Everything's functioning fully. You have a complete system. It's sometimes a challenge to make that system out of things people find rather awful or objectionable. It's careless to associate what the characters say with what the author thinks. I frequently don't agree with what mine say. The challenge is, to me, to be able to say it as well as I can and represent and fit it into the larger scheme. It doesn't matter whether what I'm saying is nice or true.
(via wood s lot)

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