After reading David Shield’s unconventional extract, I was dumbstruck. I was unsure of what is actually was, how to read it, and it was making no sense to me. It didn’t take long for me to catch on however, as his contrast to conventional writing forms soon intrigued me. The information Shield conveys within his text is description of reasoning behind the structure in which he presents it. By beginning with outrageous statements such as “Plots are for dead people: and “long live the antinovel”, Shield’s distaste towards traditional narrative structure emerges as he demonstrates his visionary evolvement beyond what we currently expect of writing.
Sheild sways from customary linear essay and paragraph writing and discusses his own form of text formation, where sequence, beginning and end are eliminated. The approach acts as an art form, a collage or mosaic, constructed by non-linear ideas and information. His method of discussing editing importance possessed some very viable points. Meaning and emotion are created by the relationships of images to one another, not by their individual content. The Kuleshov effect, which I had previously discovered in my film studies class demonstrated this idea.
Emotionless face + image of bread = hungry
Emotionless face + image of coffin = mourning
Emotionless face + image of seductive woman on couch = lust
The complimentary image changes the perception of subject’s expression.
Usually I find readings tedious, time-consuming and dull. It doesn’t take long for me to get distracted once I’m emerged in a text that makes no sense. In saying that, the brief, irregular paragraph system, worked exceptionally well in capturing and maintaining my attention. Perhaps this is the way the world and particularly literature is heading towards. With younger generations’ attention spans deteriorating thanks to digital technology, simplicity is becoming more and more beneficial to learning.
The unusual nature of Shield’s piece caused me to question during the reading; what happens if I read it backwards? Can I skip sections and it still make sense? The answers are yes to each. It would result in slightly different interpretations, yet Shield’s message would still come across as it is interwoven throughout many of the tiny numbered paragraphs. The freedom to jump from one section to another reminded me of hypertext, although not in the same level as Ted Nelson’s work, which i discussed in The Mechanical Hand ,
It has come to my attention that I’m still writing in almost-essay format. Why? Maybe with more exposure to different writing forms I’ll be able to develop different methods. Up to this point, I have been raised as an essay writing robot through the education system, where “this way is the only way”. Not anymore.