Wait, wait, don’t tell me

“ ‘Information,’ writes Walter Benjamin, is ‘incompatible with the spirit of storytelling.’ For Benjamin, ‘half the art’ of telling a story lies in learning not to tell the news; narrative should suppress reportage, achieving instead ‘an amplitude that information lacks.’ Another name for this ‘amplitude’ might be what Flannery O’Connor calls ‘mystery’— fiction’s capacity, as she puts it, ‘to penetrate the concrete world’ of everyday facts, revealing ‘the image of ultimate reality.’ What she means is that reading allows us to face away from the world, and, in so doing, see through it. We read because we want to be somewhere else, but the best books make us realize that ‘elsewhere’ is where we already are. So, writing can turn toward or away from the known and the knowable, aiming at either information or mystery. One direction reports, reproduces, represents; the other points elsewhere, bringing the unprecedented into presence.” – David Winters, “Patterns of Anticipation”

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