The Art of Not Explaining Art — John Dyer Writes

In a video essay entitled The Nightmare Artist, YouTube creator In Praise of Shadows tells us about Zdzislaw Beksinski, an artist who emerged from the horrors of WWII Poland to produce a collection of stark, gloomy paintings. Beksinski never titled his works nor would he consent to explain himself except to say things like, “Meaning is meaningless to me” and “Interpretation is imposed by others”. Of course, that didn’t stop critics from saying what he was about, but I think he was smart to be silent. Certainly, if he’d said — about any one thing he did — “This is how I felt when the Jews were taken away”, then everything he produced would have been defined by the statement.

The appearance of this documentary on my recommended list was timely, as I’d been wringing my hands about whether to explain myself, and if so, in what way. Beksinski would say it’s a trap, that as soon as I reveal intentions, the audience will see nothing in the material except what I say it is. After publishing my first novel, The Illusion of Gravity, I said I was writing ‘Literary SciFi, for grown-ups’ — and while it’s an accurate description, it’s only one aspect of the work.

I’d prefer to let reviewers tell the audience what I’m up to — that way, if there’s a difference of opinion, I’m not in the middle of it. I can share this — I write from inspiration, as opposed to writing to market. There’s no template. The story suggests itself as I write. This approach doesn’t always produce great literature, but I’ve watched from the Amazon dashboard as readers devoured the catalog one after the other, sometimes in single sittings. I don’t think it was a mistake.

Every book isn’t for every reader. I can’t guess what you’re looking for. All I can do is write the stories I have; the rest is up to you. If you’re curious, find me on Amazon, here.

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