“Because it is himself that the Southerner is writing about, not about his environment: who has, figuratively speaking, taken the artist in him in one hand and his milieu in the other and thrust the one into the other like a clawing and spitting cat into a croker sack. And he writes. [….] That cold intellect which can write with calm and complete detachment and gusto of its contemporary scene is not among us; I do not believe there lives the Southern writer who can say without lying that writing is any fun to him. Perhaps we do not want it to be.”
William Faulkner, intro to The Sound and the Fury
Once upon a time, feeling the vague pinch of mortality, I gave my father paper and pen and asked if he would record family recollections. Much time went by wherein he finally scribbled a few pages. Starting out in a factual manner, it descended into a furious telling of wrongs done to him by various brothers and sisters (counting eight all together) and resentments approaching a biblical scale, frightening in the condemnations. The calm diagesis and hermeneutic of the progressive airing (e.g., public radio’s audio story board) of grievances had no place in this old testament landscape. Writing did not act as some cathartic release but rather was lava like in its heat and subsequent hardening when exposed. There was no artifice here but rather the raw, unmediated ding an sich of genealogical defenestration. And that was the end of that experiment. Perhaps Ortega Y Gasset got it wrong: much of the time, the past repeats not because we have forgotten it but because we remember.