I have always loved reading and was already familiar to some extent with the notion of creative writing but the concept of reading creatively is fundamentally new to me and this part of the course has been important to put it in focus. After being introduced to the reader-response theory I now see the word ‘creative’, so far a rather general term with a vague meaning, under a different and more precise light. I find particularly stimulating the idea of a living and evolving relationship among authors, texts and readers and of a real exchange and influence in all directions.
Initially, when I started concentrating on this part, I was considering that of the reader a basically passive role and the reader as someone standing on the recipient side, as I said in my beginning post Reasons to read, reasons to write. My perspective has certainly changed. In this respect also the experience of close reading has been very interesting and has activated in me a different kind of response as against what I used to have back in high school when confronted with construing texts in more traditional ways, based on studying authors and context first and only afterwards interpreting their texts as if from a distance. It was study first and analysing later, here the process has been reversed, from what I understand of it.
All this made me also consider how connected all creative activities fundamentally are and how similar the role of the reader of a text is to that of the visitor of an art exhibition or of a member of the public of a film or theatrical performance, and conversely how much writers, visual artists, performers have in common and share.
When I knew lately that the literature Nobel prize had been assigned to Bob Dylan my first thought was: notwithstanding all the debates if this was a right or a wrong choice the fact is that probably fifty years ago nobody would have thought to give this award to a songwriter, and to draw a parallel between Dylan and ancient poets and performers like Homer and Sappho. As such I believe it was a very destabilising, postmodern decision. Speaking in ‘performative’ terms, Dylan’s art songs have been considered ‘speech acts’ that have a real influence on the world.
I had all these thoughts at the back of my mind as I was doing my close reading of Don DeLillo’s extract from White Noise. What I tried to do was to stay as close to the text as I was able as a reader, to ‘crawl’ on it to use one word from the extract, do my utmost to not be intimidated by a celebrated novel by a very influential author, and to look at its words only, forgetting the rest. I also made an effort to remain aware of myself and my circumstances, feelings, environment as a reader and of how these were being mirrored back into my close reading. I start to see that I could reread it perhaps in one year time and possibly write very different things. All in all I could say that if I started this course as a modernist I’m getting postmodernist along the way!