Monday, January 09, 2012

Do we pick our mental mentors, or do they pick us? (and more long sentences)

Best thing I read in this weekend's papers:
“Who are these figures who take residence inside our heads,” Pico Iyer asks in The Man Within My Head, “to the point where we can hear their voices even when we’re trying to make contact with our own?”

“Who put them there?... “ Iyer adds, noting how, if he were to choose a “secret companion, an invisible alter ego,” he would select someone more “dashing” than British novelist Graham Greene. Greene, he admits, “is not a hero or a counsellor” to him. Instead, he is the ongoing presence who whispers the “secrets and fears” that burrow to the core of Iyer’s preoccupations. --Charles Foran, "He shoots! He waits! How a young writer found Samuel Beckett", in The Globe and Mail
For Pico Iyer, it's Graham Greene.

For Charles Foran, it's Samuel Beckett.  Foran doesn't try to write like Beckett, he says: "Much as I adore his mordant, cadenced prose, I’ve never tried to write like him. Nor do I have either the temperament or courage to address so frontally the strangeness, and unease, of being human. Most writers, it should be said, stop short of where Samuel Beckett starts."  For him, Beckett is more of a reminding voice, something that keeps him on track with where he wants to be in his own writing.
George Bailey: Well, you look about the kind of angel I'd get.
Do you have an imaginary "mentoring relationship" with someone you've never met?  Is it someone you "chose", or did they "choose you?"

P.S. Pico Iyer has an essay here called "The Writing Life: The point of the long and winding sentence." "Not everyone wants to be reduced to a sound bite or a bumper sticker."

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