“Toxic Flora,” by Kimiko Hahn
Speaking about form and substance, I must say I love Kimiko Hahn. Her prose poems, her ambiguity, the boundaries of genres broken down, her suggestions are a discovery to me. “Ambiguity is the opposite of clarity – so, in my mind, it shares a necessary relationship with clarity, if that makes sense. We know it as an important tool in poetry… Also, leaving things partial can either be or be akin to synecdoche. I’ve read that Japanese refer to such suggestion as fragrance, kaoru. You don’t need to say everything, because the fragrance will continue, and you can keep experiencing what the fragment suggests even after the piece formally closes. Just because something is partial doesn’t mean that the whole is not, somehow, present.” “Just because something is partial doesn’t mean that the whole is not, somehow, present. It just means that something is not going to be fully extended or even fully realized as an image… I wondered how much could be left out before losing, completely, the sense of a piece.”
When I read a great page, I feel that kind of fragrance Kimiko Hahn is talking about. Some pages of Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman, for example, are nothing but an endless fragrance. And similar to the pages of Kimiko Hahn, the ones of Grossman show a sort of timidity, of reserve I like so much since it is connected with a concept of privacy that for me is an important value. It is not necessary to say everything, I agree. There are borders that I must respect; there is a red zone.
It is easy to go back to Flaubert and Kafka, for example. Kafka wrote to Max Brod: “Here in Flaubert there are only ideas that concern facts, not sentimental chats.” In Flaubert and Kafka (there is an evident affinity between them) there is a great concept of privacy. The artistic world of Kafka is a castle of privacy, and Flaubert said: “The artist must convince the future readers he didn’t exist.” And isn’t this the same lesson by Shakespeare, in the end?
Nowadays, many authors confuse art with their desire of outing, of confession, as if the reader were their Freudian analyst.
So near my fireplace I am a storyteller and a Good Samaritan, not a show-off. I play with my audience’s heartstrings (I try, I’m improving), little have my stories to do with truth, rather with pity and consolation. Truth is an over valuated concept, for me. Truth, my truth, the only truth I know, is a dangerous weapon, often son of pride or egotism, of mental alibis, of excuses or hidden objectives. The pretence of owing the truth is at the base of each dictatorship, as Hayek and Pepper demonstrated.
Maliciously, William Somerset Maugham said: “I’m not sure you really want sincerity in your lives.” Reading the essay “Sincerity” by R. Jay Magill jr., it is possible to understand why so many Non-Fiction pieces are not ‘real’, but derived from different goals.
I prefer kaoru, fragrance and suggestion; sabi, beauty of irregularity; zuihitsu, running brush; mystery, resonance, closure and anti-closure. I prefer relationship better than the show of my feelings or my dears’ ones.
There is another pillar (for me): art is innovation, invention. How can I write about my life and my dears, using invention? It is my doubt and my limit, perhaps. So I like better my genre, my NFN, Non Fiction Novels, in which I can play with invention and innovation too, with honesty.