Thursday, July 31, 2014

Quote of the Day (Jonathan Raban, on How Travel and Writing Differ)

“Writing—real writing, in the iron discipline of a book—is the mirror opposite of traveling. A book is a strictly subordinated world. Its logic, of symbol and metaphor, is at once tantalizingly suggestive and ruthlessly exclusive. From the moment that a narrative begins to develop its own momentum, it insists on what it needs and what it has no time for. It's at his peril that the writer loses sight of where the book began and where it's destined to find an ending. (Endings almost invariably change as the book develops, but the sense of an ending is crucial, even if it turns out to be nothing like the ending.) Writing is—in the terms of Philosophy 101—all cause, cause, cause, where traveling is a long cascade of one damn contingency after another. Good writing demands the long view, under a sky of unbroken blue; good traveling requires one to submit to the fogginess of things, the short-term, minute-by-minute experiencing of the world. It’s no wonder that my alter ego and I are on such bad terms.”—Jonathan Raban, “Notes From the Road,” in The Writing Life: Writers on How They Think and Work, edited by Marie Arana (2003)

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