A gaze you could meet

“Fictional writing has no value, documentary narrative has no value. The only genres I saw value in, which still conferred meaning, were diaries and essays, the types of literature that did not deal with narrative, that were not about anything, but just consisted of a voice, the voice of your own personality, a life, a face, a gaze you could meet. What is a work of art if not the gaze of another person? Not directed above us, nor beneath us, but at the same height as our own gaze. Art cannot be experienced collectively, nothing can, art is something you are alone with. You meet its gaze alone.”

Knausgaard  “My Struggle”

I like this quote, and this is what I mean when I say that I read for the writer, not the story, but to say that “fictional writing has no value” is to miss seeing the writer behind the story. It’s true that much fictional writing is superficial and gives you nothing like that, but great fiction surely does, and therein lies the difference.

 

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