In Taoist writings the eye represents the yang and the ear the ying. The ear can measure while the eye can only guess. You can tell if a book has substance not too long after you begin reading it, not because of what the words are saying but because of the way they sound (I don't mean quite literally but en masse). A composer tunes into a certain wave length to first hear and then write down what he has heard in a way not too different from that of a writer. All the great writers had a distinct voice, and some of the greatest writers wrote simply, and these writers would be great at any time and any place. I am sure it is possible that a writer writes things that 'sound' good to her but might not necessarily be able to extrapolate what they 'mean' exactly. Is this bad practice? Writing a sentence is not much different to writing a melody. If something sounds good (I don't mean 'clever') it usually is.  Surface and depth are one and meaning echoes throughout the whole.

    Of course different things sound good to different people. But in general there is a consensus. Why is that? Are we attuned (note the musical reference again) to find certain patterns of sound and associations of words satisfying in the same way that certain relations between shapes and planes make a 'beautiful' face and the relation between notes and chords make a great piece of music? It has been proven that babies respond differently to beautiful faces, and humans find certain sounds (such as babies crying) distressing. It seems that humans naturally find certain accumulations of vibration (sound) and of sight (image) pleasing or displeasing. But when it comes to taste in literature tastes differ vastly.

          Note 18:

The Master's Voice


stories and things



leaving the text alone

Beckett and mysticism

why real directors are writers

Dr Seuss and Tom McCarthy

why the novelist's job is harder than God's

the thing about autobiographical fiction

how to write a successful novel

George Herbert and Judith McPherson

the value of not doing

thoughts on TLOD

don't judge a book

things I was thinking when writing TLOD

time, words, are the enemy

the master's voice


why I didn't want to write anymore

the value of not knowing

when do you give up on a book?


what makes a book great

divine fancy


time, identity and fiction