(Just another short note in response to Tim O’Neil and this comment:)
“If you’re into layers, issues of construction just add that much more to play with, you know?”
Absolutely! But “intricate structure” qua “intricate structure” is meaningless! It’s either part of what stimulates thought, or it’s useless ornamentation… my first novel is planned out to the last comma, and it was written that way in the hopes of expressing certain things that absolutely could never be conveyed in discursive/linear terms (which is not to say that I succeeded mind you!)
What I do object to, though, is criticism which stops at statements like–“this is a finer work of art because it is more intricately structured”… That’s a purely subjective statement that reveals nothing about the grounds of the appreciation… you don’t read a book and say to yourself “wow, that was a brilliantly structured book!” do you? Don’t you, rather, say: “wow, the way in which this particular aspect of the text plays off of this other aspect of the text, especially in light of the larger context of the work as a whole–and all of the works it can be construed as being in dialogue with–, really switched a gear in my brain!”… And if the second formulatIon is a closer approximation of the way in which a reader reacts to formal complexity (which I’m as appreciative of as anyone, believe me–inattention to the formal complexity of, say It’s A Wonderful Life, or the Gwen Stacy Clone Saga, is the bane of my existence!) why not write criticism in the same way? Write about where the craft takes you!
Anyway–this is all just to say: 1. “form and content” are always in sync, ’cause they’re the same thing–anytime you express an idea, you’re expressing an idea, not planting that idea directly in another person’s mind… It stands to reason, therefore, that we can forget about the “idea” and focus purely on the expression of it—that’s what I try to do (and of course I like complex “expressions of ideas” more than simple ones!) And 2. I’m glad Tim is planning to reread Squadron Supreme, and I look forward to hearing what he has to say about it! Okay, back to work!
Good Afternoon Friends!