22 July 2008


"The sentence, through you, seeks its form, and its form is the endeavoring of a desire, the outline of a feeling, the description of a perception, the construction of a concept, the dreaming of an image. ... So the sentence, in search of its birth, is passing through the company of writers the writer has stored like so many bars of soap, barrels of pickles, sacks of coffee, candles connected by uncut wicks. It wants a rhythm the way infants need feet; it hopes for a satisfactory rhetorical shape; it curses its bad luck and low-class diction; it likes to hum a tune as it rolls along. ...A description is an arrangement of properties, qualities, and features that the author must pick (choose, select), but the art lies in the order of their release—visually, audibly, conceptually—and consequently in the order of their interaction, including the social standing of every word. ...Of course most sentences need not, nor should, be built like a museum or a palace, but built they will be, well or ill or so-so, and their paragraphs, like towns they partially comprise, will also be commodious or cramped—a Paris Texas or a Paris France. ...my final example of some of those aspects of writing whose neglect, in favor of the famous 'plot' and 'character' and 'moral aim,' has so often fatally damaged just those prized factors. The 'image' is the element I mean: the sudden transformative lens through whcih a commonplace can become as mesmerizing as a religious mystery." Wm. H. Gass, "The Sentence Seeks It Form," in A Temple of Texts p. 275, 279-80, 285, 286.
Well, I guess I can pack up my bags and go home now; my work here is done. jk.

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