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Giving solidity to pure wind: temporising as transformation

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Version 1 2015-06-26, 08:16
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-17, 14:45 authored by JR Prendergast
Jared Diamond asked the acclaimed evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr (1904-2005) why Aristotle didn’t come up with the theory of evolution. Mayr’s answer was ‘Frage stellen’ which Diamond translates as ‘a way of asking questions [sic]’ (Byrne 2013). The idea that a particular way-of-asking might generate a particular way-of-knowing and, indeed, a particular branch-of-knowledge, is utterly intriguing, especially when we frame the practice of creative writing in those terms: as a way of asking questions. Drusilla Modjeska unpacks the concept of ‘temporising’ in her article ‘Writing Poppy’ (Modjeska 2002: 75). This discussion invites us to consider the generative capabilities of the temporising space – as an imaginative space for writers, as an alternate way of asking questions … of seeing, being, knowing. In narrative, the questions that underpin the work do not necessarily appear in the surface-content of the text. In this way, the story is a metaphorical representation of the questions that lie beneath. As Aristotle suggests, metaphor relies on ‘an intuitive perception of the similarity [to homoion theorein] in dissimilars’ (Ricoeur 1977: 23). In narrative we contemplate a question, or an idea, within the context of a metaphorical other. This is a form of temporising: of ‘slip[ping] into other time frames’ as a means of ‘retreat[ing] and consider[ing]’ (Modjeska 2002: 75, 76). In narrative time, we consider one thing through an alternate temporal lens. We prevaricate in otherness. Fiction-making represents a very particular way of asking questions. With reference to the process of writing the short story – ‘Everything that matters is silvery white’ – it is clear that ‘making’ narrative is a way of asking questions that is assisted by the transformative temporising space.

History

Journal

Text: journal of writing and writing courses

Volume

19

Pagination

1-26

Location

Melboune, Vic.

Open access

  • Yes

ISSN

1327-9556

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal, C Journal article

Copyright notice

2015, Australian Association of Writing Programs

Issue

1

Publisher

Australian Association of Writing Programs