“Maybe writing can’t be taught, but editing can be taught—prayer, fasting and self-mutilation. Notions of the lousy can be taught. Ethics.” ~ Donald Bartheme, from The Paris Review

Reblogged from The Paris Review: (Click on link for full interview.)

“[T]he task is not so much to solve problems as to propose questions. To quote Karl Kraus, ‘A writer is someone who can make a riddle out of an answer.’ There’s also an element of reportage, the description of new situations or conditions, but that’s pretty much a matter of identifying them rather than talking about solutions. Baudelaire noticing that the boulevards of Paris were no longer a means of getting from here to there but had become more like theater lobbies, places to be, and writing about that. The search is for a question that will generate light and heat.

“All this has to do with a possible extension of means. Abstraction is a little heaven I can’t quite get to. How do you achieve, for example, “messy”? De Kooning can do ‘messy’ by making a charcoal stroke over paint and then smudging same with his talented thumb—in prose the same gesture tends to look like simple ineptitude. De Kooning has a whole vocabulary of bad behavior that enables him to set up the most fruitful kinds of contradictions. It frees him. I have trouble rendering breaking glass.”

~ Donald Barthelme, The Art of Fiction No. 66