The Darkening Garden reviewed by Sarah Monette

I’d make a new years themed post but I can’t really think of anything to put. It was uneventful, although the fireworks I went to see with Fergus and Alessa and Gavin were pretty awesome. So, onwards.

I’m very much interested in language and I guess just different ways of expressing things to people. Emotions and thoughts and feelings and expression. Videogames and multimedia in my mind have such power to deal with these things, and probably has a somewhat wider appeal than, say, the small-text edition of Crime and Punishment. And that’s the reason why I’m enjoying the course I’m on so much, that and the excitement of all the programming ;).

Sarah Monette writes beautifully, so I usually keep tabs on her livejournal and read her essays and so on. She’s clearly very intelligent and her opinions are always insightful and usually miles ahead of whatever I thought about writing and literature. So I was surprised when I saw my own thoughts about design mirrored in her review of John Clute’s The Darkening Garden: A Short Lexicon of Horror, which I think I’m going to have to dig out and read for myself (yes yes I know it’s terrible, reading a review before you’ve read the actual book, but there you have it).

The other thing that makes me uneasy about Clute’s argumentative definition of horror is his use of an explicitly prescriptive four-part structure in talking about the narrative progress of horror. I am dubious about this rhetorical move for several reasons. One is that, as a genre theorist myself, I am suspicious of and philosophically opposed to prescriptive definitions. In my experience, this leads to a habit of fitting the facts to the theory instead of modifying the theory to suit the facts.

I hate the thought of having a set structure to any form of art, be it writing or not. Yes of course I realise that if you look at things generally enough it works, and design processes are there to help and everything, but it still gets on my nerves for some reason. So, I thought I’d share.

Another interesting article on processes.

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