“By what seemed then and still seems a chance, the suggestion of a moment’s idle thought followed up upon familiar lines and paths that I had tracked a hundred times already, the great truth burst upon me, and I saw, mapped out in lines of light, a whole world, a sphere unknown; continents and islands, and great oceans in which no ship has sailed (to my belief) since a Man first lifted up his eyes and beheld the sun, and the stars of heaven, and the quiet earth beneath.”
Arthur Machen – The Great God Pan
I have just finished reading this (short) novel, and besides being a great tale, there was one thing that struck me most of all. It is about the style of writing. The structure of the work.
Nowadays, we are all about speed, everything needs to be set up in a fashion that minimizes time investment, while maximizing results. Be it in the workplace or at home, having fun. Even relaxing and enjoying hobbies, it would seem has become a quest for fulfilling ones desires in as short a time as possible.
Because we are all too busy. Too many places to go, people to see. We have emails to check, blogs to read, blogs to write, friends to call, acquaintances to text, we have YouTube videos to watch, likes to return, respects and tweets that need to be favorited, and re-tweeted, not to mention the required responses and ensuing 140 character conversations. There are hash-tags to remember and create, and of course, real relationships to be maintained, household chores to do, TV programs to watch, record and download. It is no wonder we are all in such a rush.
Back in the 1890’s there was not such a rush in the way of life, not as we see it today. That relaxed, laid back way was part of that generation, and it is displayed in the writing. Especially within the Great God Pan. I brushed on this in my review of the book here.
The long flowing sentences of the book, and I daresay of other writings at that time, exude a decadence that even the best modern writers cannot truly reproduce, because, deep down, we are no wired to think that way anymore.
Personally, I find is a disheartening truth, and I hope that you all agree with me, when I say that we rush needlessly through life, and all often forget to stop and smell the roses, or spend a few hours watching the world go by for no reason other than the fact we wanted to. We felt like stopping and letting go.
I am by no means claiming that we should be lazy, or that the people of previous centuries were lazy, rather, I aim my views at the way of life that society dictates we follow.
This post has strayed somewhat away from the topic I had planned to write about, and so that shall come at a later day, but in the meantime, let us consider the tempo with which we live out lives.
How often do we really just sit back and let things go, completely.
E-readers, as great as they are, have not helped. They delivery books instantly, they have lowered the cost of books so we can buy more, and therefore as an indirect result, read more. With freebie promotions being thrown around like a cake at a birthday party, we are being inundated with reading material, and I at least, feel obligated to read them all.
To revert back to the Great God Pan, as a mere singular example. There were passages in the book where one paragraph consumed multiple pages. Nowadays, with the modern style of writing, this would be an assault on our senses, as well as an affront to our speed conscious sensibilities. How can we monitor our progress reading through one big chunk of text, while short, sharp paragraphs help us monitor our march that much more efficiently.
However, in this text, with the flowing words and the grace with which each one was slotted into position, the blocks of text became not a challenge, but a pleasure. Maybe it is just me, maybe I am sentimental and possibly even a man born in the wrong era, but I found myself growing sad at the loss of such sentence structure and languid style prose.
Is there a place for such free-flowing thoughts and bodies of fiction in modern life, or are they outdated. Could a modern author pull it off, and even is so successful, would readers accept it, or jump upon with negativity?
Do we all move too fast, or am I just slow and holding onto something that I wish I had been able to experience.