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Artistic Authenticity in Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life

Feb 25, 2023 | 0 comments

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Feb 25, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments

Dillard wrote her last book, The Writing Life. Inherent and conspicuous in all Dillard’s works are her focus on self−sacrifice and her try to get in touch with life’s beauty with its known horrors. Although she is known as a writer of nature, she can be described neither as an expert, nor as an appreciator of nature. Rather, she is a student of the person ideas and is passionate about how people perceive their surroundings and world. Actually, her idea of nature and art can be identified as the two factors of the same coin. This is especially apparent in The Writing Life. This material will discuss and evaluate the theme artistic authenticity and how it has been developed in the book (Dillard 24). In her previous works, Dillard (54) have a perception of the the world through her natural creatures analysis, but in The Writing Life, she decides the way of lifestyle and actions of other artists to come to understand the suffering life.

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In this book, she made a huge step from what she did in her previous works, and provides with, what is gradually, a wrong feeling of comfort from a group, as if to say artists are usually different from the public. It is apparent that Dillard seems left out from society and seriously desires to find others with whom she be identified with. She looks out for the neighbors’ views and at some aspect accepts that however fashionable her job might be, writing is just a job in the end.

The Writing Life main theme is the Dillard’s wish of authenticity in art. On an insignificant learning, one might neglect the grotesqueness of anecdotes and value of the metaphors. Clearly, Dillard wanted to make an exploration on the human conditions as an extension of the kinds she used in her formerly works. Those who belittled her work as disjointed also did not see it in the light of her formerly works. Dillard never wrote actions, which were truly complete in themselves but effective the growth of her designs through her actions to add our understanding of each of her actions.

One of the most amazing anecdotes in The Writing Life is the story of Dillard about the stunt pilot called Dave Rahm. Through the story, she explains her world vision. Dave Rahm was a climber of the mountain who became a mountain exert and explored many mountains from every view point for the desire to find out more about the mountains from every perspective. He furthermore studies geography and later became a professor of geology, yet both geology and geography seemed to be “too pedestrian” for Dave Rahm, and so he decided to pursue piloting (Dillard 76).

The narrator makes a parallel between the stunt pilot’s life and the writer’s life. She parallels the writing sensation to spinning, which brings out how seriously Dillard takes the writing of a book challenge, and how self absorbed she became in the process of realizing her goals as a writer. “The writing sensation of a book is the spinning sensation, blinded by daring and love. It is the sensation of peering and rearing from the bent tip of a grass blade, looking for a route.” (Dillard, 86)

While the narrator watches Dave Rahm passionately, she ponders over her own craft. It comes out clearly in the language applied to give a description her sensation as a writer that she gives it a consideration much like the show that Dave Rahm creates on his airplane (Dillard 85).

The first similarity pointed out by the narrator is that she neither sees them while they are performing. Neither is aware of their work developments, their art while they are in the process of doing out their task. “He could not see them himself. If he did not see it on a film, he never saw them at all, as if Beethoven could not hear his last symphonies because he was inside the paper he was writing and no9t that he was deaf” (Dillard, 62).

At the end of The Writing Life, the narrator make identification of herself with Dave Rahm and sees the world through the eyes of Dave Rahm, which makes her to have a perception  all forms of art including the writing act, as a vocation, a life honorable worthy of the ultimate sacrifice.

Dillard (19) uses Icarus and Dedalus to exemplify her art and invention understanding, which at time s demands sacrifice totally. Dillard respects people who give up themselves completely to their art and make a risk on everything for them to achieve perfection, just like what the stunt pilot and Icarus did in The Writing Life. She believes clearly that at least she should be esteemed for the sacrifices she had all along made. However, she also brings out the “not seeing” danger. She also critically examines herself as transcendentalist who concentrates much on seeing what her eyes are sometimes dimmed because of their self-importance. Now, she seems to have to have gotten over the set limits of the artists who were there before her (Dillard, 14).

In The Writing Life, she chooses different mediums through which she was able to see the world. The other artists descriptions which tell the readers more about writing or about herself than about the described artists: the stunt pilots analogy which seriously shows how she take her work, the Dedalus and Icarus myths  which tells the reader how significant is her ambition, sacrifice and achievement as a writer (Dillard, 64). Through these mediums, Dillard brigs out the basic question, how do we see the world around us? This is a question about the person who has the right to give interpretation and how best it should be accomplished. Moreover, what is the understanding behind per consistent pursuit of art in this The Writing Life book? Self-sacrifice in her art chosen is work frame and can be understood as her life ethics. Without understanding way of looking art, we cannot understand her way of getting to understand the nature. Because of she gives much respect to self-sacrifice in art and the life, she seeks worldly sacrifice and beauty in the natural world grotesqueness. Before examining and understanding her way of looking at nature, it is important to recognize her way of perceiving the world (Dillard, 72).

If we give definitions to nature and art in the broader sense, as Dillard did in The Writing Life, then we can see that she tends to ask fundamental questions about how we perceive and interpret the printed art forms. Arts such writing, but also how deeper understanding of these forms of art leads to a deeper understanding of life (Dillard 53).

Work cited

Dillard, Annie. The Writing Life. New York: Harper & Row, 1989. Print.




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