I'm not linking to the actual story I'm talking about, which is written by Chuck Palahniuk. If you're interested, google it or track it down from one of the links below. It's one of those things I can't give you in good conscience. You have to take the responsibility for deciding to read this yourself. The actual story...I had trouble reading it. I'm going to try to compliment it without recommending that you read it as well, and without really saying what it's about. That said, the meaning of the story was amazingly clear to me, and equally as evocative in many ways. Fair warning on both counts.
The story has apparently caused people to vomit and faint at live readings(I'm not kidding) and more about that can be found here
and Chuck's audioblog is here
A collection of opinions and comments about the story is here
It's strong, strong stuff. I'm serious. I am fairly fearless when it comes to reading. I'll read the most graphic stuff ever if it is well written at the same time. This story might very well be the most graphically disturbing thing I've ever read. It fits the theme of the story to tell you that about three quarters of the way through I had to stop reading and collect myself before going back to finish reading. And when I did, I had to read it in small chunks with only the object of finishing in mind. I had to finish, because I was in the middle of it and it was too late to go back, even though truthfully I did not really feel inclined to keep feeling the way the story was making me feel.
The way it made me feel was pretty squeamish. It was an amazing piece of writing though, and the intellectual meaning I took from it was perhaps more deeply impressed on me because of the physical reaction it evoked. The fact that it was so graphically disturbing at the same time that it was...resonating personally in its theme was what disturbed me beyond the mere gross-out factor of the writing. This is something Chuck seems to come up against and challenge often in his writing, and here he has raised quite a reaction on both fronts.
This story made me think about that as much as what it personally meant to me so I will spare you my self-analysis and explore that angle a bit. The idea that in some cases an emotional response(assuming the feeling is felt to the degree that it could affect one's thinking) to writing can improve the comprehension of the meaning contained within the text of the writing.
And conversely, the idea that in some cases the emotional response can serve to completely impede the efficacy of the meaning intended by the writer to positively influence the reader. I'm sure both cases exist and it's all subjective. I probably heard this idea before, or you have. At least I'm having the decency to plagiarize by memory, and what's more such a faulty memory that I don't recall having read it before. Stay off the drugs, kids. They lead to academic misconduct. Fair warning. The whole thing ended up being a test for me of dispassionately moving beyond the physical reaction in order to critically acquire the meaning contained within, which I don't claim is the best way to do things in every case. Just that it can be done.
As I said, the story is quite literally a viscerally displeasing thing to read.
posted by M@ at 11:14 PM