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Reality Hunger: A Manifesto by David Shields

Reality Hunger: A Manifesto

by David Shields

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4141639,864 (3.47)8
An open call for new literary and other art forms to match the complexities of the twenty-first century. Author David Shields argues that our culture is obsessed with "reality" precisely because we experience hardly any. The questions Reality Hunger explores--the bending of form and genre, the lure and blur of the real--play out constantly all around us. Think of the controversy surrounding the provenance and authenticity of the "real": A Million Little Pieces, the Obama "Hope" poster, the boy who wasn't in the balloon. Reality Hunger is a rigorous and radical attempt to reframe how we think about "truthiness," literary license, quotation, appropriation. Shields has written this for a burgeoning group of interrelated but unconnected artists in a variety of forms and media who, living in an unbearably manufactured and artificial world, are striving to stay open to the possibility of randomness, accident, serendipity, spontaneity.--From publisher description.… (more)
Recently added byp1l3ofst1x, Adammmmm, hrebml, jrmypttrsn, Sebastian-sarti, private library, laerm, katie



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this insanely stupid book has aged like a handful of mayonnaise ( )
  Adammmmm | Sep 10, 2019 |
Shields, David (2010). Reality Hunger: A Manifesto. New York: Vintage. 2010. ISBN 9780307387974. Pagine 242. 13.79$

Libro difficile da classificare, per esplicita scelta dell'autore. David Shields è (era?) essenzialmente un romanziere, ma la stessa Wikipedia lo definisce "an American author of non-fiction, fiction, and works that resist generic classification."

Il libro ha molti temi, ma la sua tesi principale mi sembra essere quella che in una cultura così frammentata e ricca di informazione, le persone (i lettori) sono affamati realtà, mentre il romanzo, la fiction, più in generale la forma-libro sono rimasti legati a categorie tradizionali. Frammentazione e ubiquità dell'informazione spingono ineluttabilmente verso il mash-up (più che il collage) e la letteratura non può sottrarsi a questa tendenza. Inevitabilmente, un altro tema di fondo del testo è il plagio (e la proprietà intellettuale).

Sotto il profilo strutturale, il libro è articolato in 26 capitoli (uno per ogni lettera dell'alfabeto inglese) a lòoro volta articolati in 618 paragrafi numerati (confesso che non ho potuto fare a meno di pensare al Tractatus logico-philosophicus di Wittgenstein, anche se è una somiglianza assolutamente superficiale).

Il libro è ampiamente debitore di citazioni di altri autori, di ogni epoca e di ogni disciplina, citati letteralmente o parafrasate o rielaborate. Mai citate tra virgolette, anche se metà delle parole del libro (per ammissione dell'autore) non sono originali. Su richiesta dei legali dell'editore, alla fine del libro le attribuzioni sono riconosciute paragrafo per paragrafo, ma Shields invita a non leggere quelle pagine, anzi a tagliarle via dal volume (cosa alquanto difficile nella versione elettronica) per conservare il desiderato effetto di disorientamento.

This book contains hundreds of quotations that go unacknowledged in the body of the text. I’m trying to regain a freedom that writers from Montaigne to Burroughs took for granted and that we have lost. Your uncertainty about whose words you’ve just read is not a bug but a feature.
A major focus of Reality Hunger is appropriation and plagiarism and what these terms mean. I can hardly treat the topic deeply without engaging in it. That would be like writing a book about lying and not being permitted to lie in it. Or writing a book about destroying capitalism but being told it can’t be published because it might harm the publishing industry.
However, Random House lawyers determined that it was necessary for me to provide a complete list of citations; the list follows (except, of course, for any sources I couldn’t find or forgot along the way).
If you would like to restore this book to the form in which I intended it to be read, simply grab a sharp pair of scissors or a razor blade or box cutter and remove by cutting along the dotted line.
Who owns the words? Who owns the music and the rest of our culture? We do—all of us—though not all of us know it yet. Reality cannot be copyrighted.
Stop; don’t read any farther. [p. 208]

Quello di Shields è insieme un manifesto (nel senso politico del termine) e un esperimento. Il manifesto mi trova largamente d'accordo. Quanto all'esperimento, va detto che non è del tutto originale: in questo blog ho recensito, tempo fa, Una storia romantica di Antonio Scurati (e ci sono tornato su anche qui) e, più di recente, Il cimitero di Praga di Umberto Eco, entrambi scritti come pastiche di testi altrui più o meno rielaborati. Eppure, nei casi nostrani gli uffici legali delle case esitrici non hanno obbligato gli autori a denunciare il prestito: resta il dubbio se la differenza dipenda dal fatto che in Europa siamo più avanti o più indietro degli Stati Uniti su questo terreno.

Qui un po' di materiale promozionale, giusto per darvi un'idea di che tipo è questo David Shields:


Se volete (ma serve molto più tempo e più pazienza) un suo intervento all'università di Richmond:


* * *

E adesso, come di consueto, la parola al testo (non all'autore, ovviamente, perché non saprete mai di chi è la citazione originaria):

74. The opposite of broadcast: the distribution economics of the internet favor infinite niches, not one-size-fits-all. The web’s peer-to-peer architecture: a symmetrical traffic load, with as many senders as receivers and data transmissions spread out over geography and time. [...] Art is a conversation, not a patent office. The citation of sources belongs to the realms of journalism and scholarship, not art. Reality can’t be copyrighted. [pp. 26-27]

140. Plot, like erected scaffolding, is torn down, and what stands in its place is the thing itself. [p. 47. So che auto citarsi – citarsi addosso, per direla con Woody Allen – non è elegante, ma ho usato la stessa metafora in un articolo scritto insieme a una collega: Gauss trovava che per rendere elegante una dimostrazione fosse necessario abbattere i ponteggi intellettuali che ne avevano permesso la costruzione, mentre Renzo Piano nell'edificio del Beaubourg ne capovolge la concezione, facendo dell'infrastruttura l'involucro formale]

162. Reality takes shape in memory alone.
163. Memory: the past rewritten in the direction of feeling.
164. Human memory, driven by emotional self-interest, goes to extraordinary lengths to provide evidence to back up whatever understanding of the world we have our hearts set on—however removed that may be from reality. [p. 54]

173. [...] In a sense, all memories have been forgotten. [p. 56]

183. In a sense, all memories have been forgotten. [p. 61]

197. We all stretch the truth and tell lies by omission. Just getting along with people involves both. Humans are hardwired to deceive. We deceive when we’re competing with other members of the same sex; we deceive when we’re trying to attract the other sex. Deception is more the state of nature than not deceiving. In the animal kingdom, virtually every species deceives all the time. Why don’t we lie even more? It helps our reputation for people to know they can believe us. [p. 64]

201. [...] Everything is always already invented; we merely articulate, arrange. [p. 66]

224. [...] friend of the great, the near great, the ingrate. [p. 72]

252. [...] We like nonfiction because we live in fictitious times. [p. 83]

253. People like you are in what we call the reality-based community. You believe that solutions emerge from judicious study of discernible reality. That’s not the way the world really works anymore. We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality (judiciously, as you will), we’ll act again, creating other realities, which you can study, too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors, and you—all of you—will be left to just study what we do. [p. 83]

289. [...] Replication isn’t reproduction. The copy transcends the original. The original is nothing but a collection of previous cultural movements. All of culture is an appropriation game. [p. 98]

307. There’s no longer any such thing as fiction or nonfiction; there’s only narrative. (Is there even narrative?) [p. 108]

330. Everything I write, I believe instinctively, is to some extent collage. Meaning, ultimately, is a matter of adjacent data. [p. 113. Meaning is a matter of adjacent data. È vero? Quanto è vero? È una strada verso il web semantico? È un suggerimento su come offrire informazione (anche) statistica? Quanto conta il contesto? Quanto conta il montaggio? È deontologico il montaggio?]

350. Thomas Jefferson went through the New Testament and removed all the miracles, leaving only the teachings. Take a source, extract what appeals to you, discard the rest. Such an act of editorship is bound to reflect something of the individual doing the editing: a plaster cast of an aesthetic—not the actual thing, but the imprint of it. [p. 117]

382. The line of beauty is the line of perfect economy.
383. It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what everyone else says in a whole book—what everyone else does not say in a whole book. [p. 117]

403. Negative capability: capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason. [p. 134]

448. [...] To go on for five hundred pages developing an idea whose perfect oral exposition is possible in a few minutes! A better course of procedure is to pretend that these books already exist and then offer a résumé, a commentary. [p. 145]

525. I do not know if it has ever been noted before that one of the main characteristics of life is discreteness. Unless a film of flesh envelops us, we die. Man exists only insofar as he is separated from his surroundings. The cranium is a space traveler’s helmet. Stay inside or you perish. Death is divestment; death is communion. It may be wonderful to mix with the landscape, but to do so is the end of the tender ego. [p. 178. Contravvengo alle regole mie e di Shields: l'osservazione è di Nabokov]

566. We have too many things and not enough forms. [p. 185: questa è di Flaubert]

575. You can always recognize the pioneers by the number of arrows in their back. [p. 186: questa è di Nicholas Perricone, un dermatologo. Giuro]

597. A novel, for most readers—and critics—is primarily a “story.” A true novelist is one who knows how to “tell a story.” To “tell a story well” is to make what one writes resemble the schemes people are used to—in other words, their ready-made idea of reality. But a work of art, like the world, is a living form. It’s in its form that its reality resides. [p. 198: Alain Robbe-Grillet]

617. Never again will a single story be told as though it were the only one. [p. 202] ( )
  Boris.Limpopo | Apr 29, 2019 |
Interesting. Like many good books, I ended up arguing with it. ( )
  maryroberta | Mar 9, 2019 |
I really found it bothersome to refer to the Appendix to see who wrote or said each epigram. And I did refer to that section often despite Shields' admonition to "Stop; don't read any farther." Some of the thoughts contained in this book are interesting, others baffling. In No. 583 Shields writes: "I see the movement of the poems as a working out of the narcissist dilemma.The speaker moves from American narcissism to universal luck. The book feels so lived-in and hard-won. I love your willingness to be wrong, dumb, blind, embarrassing." I think that last sentence sums up my overall impression of the book. ( )
  ucla70 | Apr 4, 2016 |
I really like most of the ideas in this book and it had some great thought-provoking pieces and describes itself thus:

There is only one memoir I can see to write and that's a slippery, playful, impish, exasperating on, shaped, if it could be, like a question mark.
( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
I am grateful for Shields's sometimes brutal interrogation of what I believe. His critiques led me to reconsider my own creative process. How had I gotten to a particular moment at the end of some book or essay? What had been my intention? What had I wanted the audience to think about my characters—or about me, for that matter? Taking the time to consider these ideas felt extremely decadent—allowing a little bit of the luxurious contemplation Shields would wish for all readers.
added by Shortride | editBookforum, Jan Attenberg (Feb 1, 2010)
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