2013년 3월 25일 월요일

[Reading Sennett's Craftsman] “Familiarity risks producing only more dead denotation.”

Source: Richard Sennett's The Craftsman


A short excerpt of which on p. 183, Out of its chapter, “Expressive Instructions” : 

* * *

(...) One remedy for dead denotation is to ‘‘write what you know,’’ a piece of advice frequently given to young writers. The idea is that a person can unpack instructive meaning in experiences he or she has lived through. However, this remedy is no remedy; what you know may be so familiar to you that you might take for granted its touchstone
references, assuming that others have identical touchstones. Thus you might write of an architect, ‘‘McGuppy’s slick mall resembles a Bon Jovi song.’’ A reader in Borneo might not be able to summon up the image of a slick shopping mall and I have never heard a Bon Jovi tune. Much contemporary writing is stuffed with casual references to consumer
products; in two generations, this writing will be incomprehensible. Familiarity risks producing only more dead denotation. The challenge posed by dead denotation is precisely to take apart tacit knowledge, which requires bringing to the surface of consciousness that knowledge which has become so self-evident and habitual that it
seems just natural. (...)

* * *

I wish some writers, who think some narrow span of their own experience to be something like universal and all-time culture, took into account the above remarks, especially:
Much contemporary writing is stuffed with casual references to consumer products; in two generations, this writing will be incomprehensible.

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