The workshop of unconventional prose: the theory and practice of rule-breaking in the space of narrative

Program start
october 2021
Program duration
1 year

About program

Prose is much more in demand by the general reader than poetry. However, this higher interest in it may even act as a kind of obstacle to artistic inquiry. The reader and critic, faced with a written prose text, often has preconceived notions of what prose can and cannot be. These preconceptions are often not obvious, not spoken, but to a great extent determine the event of the encounter between reader and text preconceptions of perception. Much of contemporary fiction is commercial prose, that is, prose that is expected to sell. Non-commercial prose is often perceived as a niche and insufficiently professional phenomenon, and the encounter with it by readers unused to such texts often leads to a kind of cognitive dissonance. This cognitive dissonance may be due to the fact that such prose violates the very unspoken conventions that the very order of writing and circulation of books in society implies, and does not conform to the preconceptions that many readers have. In this course I would like to raise the question of these preconceptions of perception in relation to prose fiction, and try to understand what they are and where they come from. I would like to see the philosophical and theoretical background behind them, and the historical and material factors which underlie them (by material factors I mean, in particular, the very way books are produced and circulated in society, which inevitably have their stamp on texts themselves). I would also like to discuss what a productive departure from this "canon of perception" might be, how artistic texts can undermine or evade it, and, at the limit, change and recreate it. One could try to identify and discuss those rules that are in force in conditionally conventional prose, see how they are in conditionally unconventional prose, and try to suggest various crazy alternatives. This course does not imply that unconventional prose is necessarily better than conventional prose; rather, it wants to question those boundaries themselves. Unconventional prose is a higher risk space, and moving within that space is far more likely to lead to creative failure. Yet many of the most creatively remarkable pieces are precisely written on the edge of the foul. The aim of this course is not to deconstruct analytically, but to make sense of texts and ways of writing that offer an experience of artistic thinking above barriers. A way of thinking that would be equally free from the conventions that limit creative writing and from the obsessive desire to break these conventions. The prose considered in this course is not a protest or denial, but an experience of free writing that can re-create the deepest foundations of what counts as an artistic text. Thus, it is a course equally about breaking and establishing laws. It is written of Andrei Platonov that he once said that people now live not by the inner law of freedom but by an external precept and that they are all sons of bitches. The only requirement this course will have for a fiction text is that it be written according to the inner law of freedom, and it is such texts we will be talking about in order to understand - what it is, the inner law of freedom, and how it can be exercised in fiction prose. The course plans to address texts by Andrei Platonov, Venedikt Yerofeyev, Pimen Karpov, Friedrich Nietzsche, Andrei Belyi, William Burroughs, Carlos Castaneda, Victor Iwaniv, and Roman Mikhailov.

Program structure

1. Представление о том, что текст должен быть целым. Завершённость и незавершённость. Чистовик и черновик. Единство и множественность.

2. Пред-установки восприятия в отношении языка и возможности выхода за их пределы. Жанровые границы. Поэзия и проза, философия и проза, наука и проза.

3. Неконвенциональные темы в художественной прозе.

4. Претензии критиков, привыкших к коммерческой литературе, к неконвенциональной прозе. Что именно их возмущает и почему?

5. Расхожие задачи конвенциональной прозы: развлечение, поучение, хорошо рассказанная история и т.д. Альтернативные возможности понимания задач прозы. Зачем это всё?

6. Экран безопасности. Потребительская позиция по отношению к тексту. Тексты, представляющие опасность.

7. Дар и товар. Разные возможности экономики текста.

8. Социальная относительность пред-установок восприятия. Одновременное существование ряда параллельных канонов. Превращение неконвенционального в конвенциональное. Пред-установки, задаваемые рынком, или пред-установки, задаваемые Академией. Внутренний закон свободы.

Curators
and teachers

Cost
и terms of study

Education at the Moscow School of Arts and Sciences of the MMU involves 1 learning paths:
Московская школа новой литературы
Study term
One year cost
Monthly payment is possible.

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