Metaphysics and Gossip: Notes Towards a Manifesto for a Novel of the Future
The subtitle of this chapter from Theorrhoea and After is ‘Notes Towards a Manifesto for a Novel of the Future’, and it consists of a further reworking of the theme of the relation between the particularities of experience and the general ideas that organise that experience. Tallis contrasts metaphysics and gossip: these are the two poles around which fiction moves. It is the achievement of the major novel to bring together what Tallis calls the small facts that detain us with the large facts that enclose us, so that, even if we are not unified by this integration of elements, it may perhaps be that we are, in some sense, composed by it. The pun here captures both the idea of how our experience of ourselves may achieve a certain order at the same time as we reach to a certain degree of rest. We are moved by that ‘moving unmoved’ which is the form of art. Unlike Henry James, of whom Eliot remarked: ‘He had a mind so fine no idea could violate it’, the novelist of the future will have a mind so fine it can be violated by many ideas, without thereby losing its refinement. For Tallis, being conscious of ourselves is to be conscious of how utterly particular, how utterly unique, we are; at the same time, we are open to generalities of the highest order. The achievement that brings these two distinctive aspects of our lives together is the achievement that makes us whole.
KeywordsSmall Fact Price Ticket Fiction Move Patience Neces Contrived Attribution
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