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Sunday, 30 November 2014

Making the Familiar Seem Strange

“And so life is reckoned as nothing. Habitualization devours works, clothes, furniture, one’s wife, and the fear of war. ‘If the whole complex lives of many people go on unconsciously, then such lives are as if they had never been.’ And art exists that one may recover the sensation of life; it exists to make one feel things, to make the stone stony.  The purpose of art is to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known. The technique of art is to make objects ‘unfamiliar’, to make forms difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged. Art is a way of experiencing the artfulness of an object; the object is not important.”

The above is an extract from a 1917 paper by Victor Shklovsky entitled Art as Technique. It is quote that should help you to make some sense of my writing: that which appears in my blogs, my tweets, and my works of fiction. When I write I continually strive to make the familiar seem strange. By deliberately making my work the way it is, I hope to extend the difficulty and length of perception.

We live in a world where making the familiar seem strange is one of the most important things any artist can engage in. Habitualization is everywhere, especially in science, engineering, technology, economics, and politics, and also in art as well, and one of the most notable institutions where habitualization has taken hold, is the European Commission, where one can list many programmes and initiatives that have ceased to exist for the people caught up in them.

Shklovsky was a member of a literary school known as Russian Formalism, which took the position that it is verbal strategies that make literature literary, and that these strategies are based on the foregrounding of language itself, and the making strange of the experiences that they create. Thus it is not the author that should be the centre of attention but the verbal devices that the writer uses. What therefore matters is form and technique.

And the above is the aesthetic that underlies my work, which is why all my writing seems so strange. It is also what drives me forward, for, like all art, the quest to perfect a style never ends, and thus it happens that work evolves and develops over the years, and it was with this in mind that I started exploring and developing … something that can be described as the unity of, what most people see as opposites. More about this in due course!

And with this idea of making the familiar seem strange, I pave the way for future  blogs which – most definitely will make the familiar seem strange …

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