probably the longest letter I have ever written to all of you.
But after dealing with many idiot reviewers, publishers, and
booksellers. I now realize I have to do their work for them
Vanishing Point: Myth to modern writing and Back
Who is telling the story to whom and under what circumstances?
How a story is told is crucial and tells a lot about the story
itself. Different writing techniques reflect different kinds
of intent, effect, meaning, and theme and as the techniques
change throughout a story so do these elements as well.
Harvest is a type of work that changes techniques constantly,
like a movie, the work is an exploration as well as an experiment
in different narrative techniques. The narrative techniques
range from first to second to third person and the use of this
narrative triple counter-point both in sequence and in unison
throughout the work give Harvest an unusual flavor.
shall explore in this letter the various forms of narrative
technique used in modern western literature as well as in more
ancient forms of mythological writing and will show where Harvest
of gems fits in this larger context and how it also pioneers
a novel fusion of old and new forms of narrative technique and
style. This new style has both a conscious and unconscious agenda;
and the agenda along with the writers intent cannot be
separated from todays emerging global environment which
has been undergoing historical and stressful changes.
want to start with modern first person techniques and work my
way to the third person which was used almost exclusively in
ancient times. Along the way I will show how Harvest of Gems
picks and chooses different kinds of techniques from this narrative
range to create a new artistic vision and way to see things
in todays complex world.
of the most pronounced narrative techniques of modern fiction
is the interior monologue. Not only is it first person this
soliloquy-like technique gives the inner life of the character
a voice so the audience can hear it. This is a poetic technique
that arrived late in modern fiction. T.S. Eliot used it in the
Love song of J. Alfred Prufock and John Keats
used it in Ode to a Nightengale, but it was only
later that such giant writers like James Joyce and William Faulkner
used it in a heavy way and weaved it in and out of other techniques.
Virginia Woolf even rotated multiple interior monologues in
of Gems also uses this technique in many ways. In doing so it
is a thoroughly modern work. The special structure and language
used in the interior monologue often reflects subverbal and
subconscious material. The speaker is speaking to himself in
an effort to tune into the deeper layers of his mind and to
raise critical information from his subconscious to the surface.
This is a hallmark of Harvest and it spills into the next technique
of narrative fiction. That of dramatic monologue.
Here there is a speaker talking to an unknown person. Its
a show with no host. But important information is revealed this
way. This technique was pioneered by Geoffry Chaucer in his
Canterbury Tales, by Colderidge in his Rime of the Ancient
Mariner, and by Dostoyevsky in many of his works, by
Mark Twain in Huck Finn, and Albert Camus in
The Fall. Harvest of Gems fuses this technique with the
technique of letter narration. A technique pioneered by J.J.
Rosseau in the 18th century to make fiction prose at the time
more platable to his audience. It is a confessional form of
writing which is a variation of the dramatic monologue which
is used often in the Dear guardian Angel letters in the Asian
chapters of Harvest of Gems. In these letters first and second
persons are invoked with even a faint echo of a third person
and all this forces the reader to make sense of the unfolding
confessional drama all on his own and to be drawn into the drama
in an intimate way.
first person narrative technique, diary narration is a cousin
of letter narration and Harvest of Gems also borrows heavily
from this technique throughout the entire book. There is often
no listener in particular, but the tone is often confessional
and to a confident who seems close to the speaker, but also
remote in distance. The diary technique was a favorite of Goethe,
Gogol, De Maupassant and Dostoyevsky. Daniel Defoe used the
technique in Robinson Crusoe and the famous American
short-story writer Daniel Keyes used the diary technique n a
stunning way in Flowers for Algernon. Through
the use of diary entries a double story unfolds as Keyes eeirely
depicts how a retarded person is transformed into a genius.
The inner events that bring this about are recorded through
the inner mind shifts that are documented. The writer of Harvest
shamelessly admits that he read this story multiple times in
high school during a difficult six years in Israel and that
he was greatly transformed by this reading experience.
leads us now to subjective narration where a character starts
talking about past events to a remote audience that starts to
resemble the general public. Time and space are also vague and
often modern writers using this technique deliberately want
their words to stand alone uncorrected, seemingly incomplete,
immature, prejudiced, or self-serving, even as their values
appear superior to their societys. This adolescent tone
was seriously misunderstood by some of the more serious
members of our translation team and also by some
well-read and educated Harvest readers who didnt
understand the strategy and intent of this narrative technique.
Vernacular language is freely used to reveal a personality that
is still growing and not fixed. Often the character is highly
distinguished from the author when this technique is used; as
well as the amateur writer from the professional one. Harvest
of Gems shamelessly borrows this adolescent narrative style
from such writers as J.D. Salinger who wrote Catcher
in the Rye and Mark Twain who immortalized Huck Finn
to the whole world. Harvest has a big debt here indeed. Especially
its earlier volumes.
technique of detached autobiography covers a more traditional
range of story-telling. Here a reliable narrator frames events
and the reader usually accepts the narrators version.
There is less interpretation. The speakers relation to
the third party in the story is more critical than his relation
with the audience. Its an exercise in both gaining and
understanding distance and hints of a more broader context.
Dickens in David Coppefield , Bronte in
Jane Eyre , and Mann in Buddenbrooks all
use this technique to good effect. It is also interesting how
J.D. Salingers protagonist in Catcher openly
denounces this writing technique as well as Dickens and
David Copperfield in general. The writer of Harvest does not
echo this sentiment, but is still however sympathetic with Salinger.
continue our narrative journey with the memoir/ observor technique.
The speaker becomes more observor rather than participant. Dr.
Watson talks about Sherlock Holmes. The first person is almost
eclipsed by his observations of a third person. This technique
is the hinge between autobiography and biography. Harvest of
Gems only flirts with this technique.
now begin our final phase of our narrative journey. First there
is anonymous narration from a single characters point
of view. This moves to an anonymous narration from dual characters
point of view. A single character gives a point of view about
two third person characters. Sherwood Anderson and D.H. Lawrence
often expanded their stories with this technique.
there is anonymous narration from multiple characters
point of view. The same single narrator gives the views of multiple
characters. More scope is employed than short fiction can command
in this territory. A classic example is Tolstoys
War and Peace. The third person is now beginning to dominate
exclusively until there is no point of view at all. The character
is a pure eye-witness with complete detachment. He is almost
a member of a chorus.
1,2,3 to 0 is the range of narrative techniques as our spectrum
ends in legend, myth, and folktale. Deeds begin to speak for
feelings and characters become archetypal. There is no going
inside the characters minds. The reader must fill this
role and rely on a communal or universal consciousness. This
external technique is the most transpersonal. This is where
fiction ends and depersonalized history begins. The character
is no longer a confidant or eye-witness. But is just the member
of a chorus. The powerful climax of Harvest of Gems in the Swyambhu
chapter boldly fuses first and second persons with the third
in a startling and unconventional way. This is the signature
of a major transition in the artists personal transformation
and this erupts full flower in Harvest vol.4 and Two Short Stories.
This new fusion of modern and ancient writing styles generates
not only a gripping story, but an all enveloping atmosphere.
It is both trance and meditation.
very idea of a central intelligence in fiction that filters
the experience of the story takes on a new meaning. Narrative
art and everyday expression begin to morph in a new way as the
very psychic fabric of the universe is tackled head on. The
experience of this narrative process stretches the mind of the
reader in profound and subtle ways. The reader is now part of
the story and his mind unites with the authors mind. The
experience becomes a multiplex kind of meditation. A meditation
that can be constantly re-experienced in new ways.
looking at and understanding the full range of narrative colors
on the authors palate, the reader will get more meaning
out of the story. How a story is told often tells what its
about. Every message has an intent. Different techniques have
different meaning especially when they are combined in new ways.
Its always a good idea to look at the techniques of the
author without trying to analyze the meaning of the story.
Vanity fair was told by an all-knowing author.
Fitzgeralds Great Gatsby by someone who knew Gatsby on
the periphery and Dickens Great Expectations
by an anonymous narrator who stuck only to the protagonists
thoughts and no one else. Harvest would have less power if it
was written only in one style. The earlier volumes are less
complex and the dramatic multiplex shifts in the later volumes
beginning with the book all of you have edited and translated
shows this abrupt transition in narrative complexity in a radical
way. But the simpler and earlier volumes prepare the reader
for this by creating a necessary biographical background. This
is important because intent, meaning, and theme all change when
narrative technique changes.
monologue and dramatic monologue mimic actual discourse going
on NOW in the present. You are there NOW with the speaker. This
is precisely why the Harvest author chose this technique. It
has an immediacy and urgency that it personal and intimate.
It is anti-mythological yet the subjects discussed are ancient
ones that are usually handled by mythological and religious
tracts. By throwing subjective narration as well which highlights
vernacular American speech the story becomes not only anti-mythological,
but contemporary as well.
next five narrative techniques have more distance in both space
and time. They are almost documentary in the sense that there
are documents written by somebody to an unknown someone. Either
letters, diaries, or memoirs. Harvest indulges this range too.
Almost like a movie with its longer shots zooming out from a
sequence of intimate and intense close shots. The zoom outs
become even greater n distance in their relation to space and
time when they start to mimic third person documents, biographies,
case histories, or chronicles.